Month: April 2013

A Beginner’s Guide to Lip Products.

I absolutely love lip products. This sounds like a simple sentiment, but before I was a makeup junkie (those dark, old days from long ago), I always was more visually attracted to eye makeup. Fierce shadow/liner/lashes combinations are still to die for, but bright, bold lips have earned an equally special place in my heart. (Well, some more than others.) In this Beginner’s Guide, I’m going to introduce the different cosmetic items intended for the lips, and make a few recommendations.

On a spectrum from most to least basic, there is:

1) Lip Balm: Even the women with the most simple, basic makeup routines tend to reach for lip balm. In fact, I’d say women who otherwise forgo makeup completely probably use balm regularly. Many balms are made with beeswax. The wax is designed to provide a barrier over the lips, sealing in moisture and preventing outside irritants, such as wind or cold temperature, from drying out the lips even further. A common misconception is that balm actually restores moisture to the mouth. This is not true; Balm simply prevents further dehydration of the lips. This explains the need for continuous reapplication in the case of severely dry lips. Over the years, balms have developed to include sunscreen benefits, as well as tints, flavors, and much cuter packaging.

Chapstick was the first to market lip balm in the 1880s and remains popular today. Burt’s Bees and Carmex are also classic balm brands. Lip Smackers are filled with deliciously-scented and wondefully flavored childhood nostaliga. In recent years, EOS’ spherical balms and Maybelline’s Baby Lips have become very popular. I highly recommend the latter, despite it’s higher-than-average price. The packaging is adorable, and there is a generous amount of product included. Baby :Lips smell great, and feel very emollient on the mouth.

Image via Beautylish

2) Lip Gloss: Gloss is another product that most of us are familiar with, often beginning our makeup-loving careers with some (in hindsight) pretty horrible frosty/glittery ones in our early teens. Gloss is designed, as the name implies, to add a glossy sheen to the mouth. Various finishes have developed over time, including the aforementioned glittery and frosty looks. But there are simpler textures; often times, gloss just adds various degrees of shiny pigment. The most basic lip glosses are clear. They can range from this to completely opaque, some include shimmer, others do not. They’re a versatile product suiting a variety of needs. That, plus the toned-down look of a gloss (compared to more pigment-rich lipstick) tends to make them popular with teenagers attending school. Lip gloss can be packaged in hard plastic tubes with screw-on caps that reveal (often doe-foot applicator) wands, or softer, squeeze-tube products that are designed to be applied directly on the mouth. Using a lip brush is also an option when it comes to applying this type of product.  Gloss ranges in texture, from tackier (think MAC) to milkier (think NARS).
MAC Tinted Lipglass, NARS lip gloss, Lancome Juicy Tubes, and OCC Lip Tars are established, popular picks when it comes to this type of product. However, there are some great drugstore lip glosses. Maybelline Color Sensational and Revlon Super Lustrous lip glosses are both affordable, easily-accessible, and great quality.
Image via Beautylish

3) Lip Stain: Stains are long-wearing products that leave a subtler color than lipstick (but stronger, and matter, than gloss). These tend to come in pencil forms and can be “drawn” onto the lips. However, alternative formulas, such as liquid stains, also exist. These can sometimes fly under a beauty junkie’s radar, as they seem less popular and have an unfortunate reputation for being drying. The length of wear, without sacrificing color, makes this type of product great for busier, or less “fussy” women, who don’t have time or the desire to reapply their makeup throughout the day. Stains are also great for dinner dates, since they’re more transfer-proof and won’t dissolve throughout the meal or kiss off. While stains do have a softer finish than lipstick, they’re not all matte; some stains retain a nice, subtle sheen. 
Tarte Lipsurgence is a popular high-end stain. Benefit Benetint, which comes in a nail polish-like screw-top container with a brush applicator, is also well-known and often used. Recently, Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain was released in drugstores and is doing quite well. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with stains, and can’t make a personal recommendation.
Image via Beautylish

4) Lip Liner: Lip liner, unfortunately, always seemed like a product for old people to me. As my cosmetic knowledge grew, I realized that this helpful tool was useful to others, not just grandmas going to bingo. Liner, often wax-based, is designed to provide a base for lipstick/gloss. This base keeps the overlaying product from unflattering bleeding and feathering, giving lip color a precise shape. Also, when used to fill in the entire mouth (as opposed to outlining the lip shape), liner provides a long-wearing hint of color that can outlast lipstick or gloss, reducing the need to reapply as the top layer of color fades (since the matching liner underneath will remain). Liners come in a variety of hues, designed to match popular lipstick shades (think pink, red, and nude color families). However, there are also clear lip liners, which act as sheer primers for the lips, while retaining the anti-bleeding benefits. 
MAC pencils are quite popular, and Too Faced Perfect Lips are highly rated online as well. On the more affordable end, Rimmel 1000 Kisses Stay On Lip Liner has left a positive impression on me. Unfortunately, I also have no experience with liner this far. 😦
Image via Beautylish

5) Lipstick: Probably the most well-known and iconic of lip products, lipsticks are my absolute favorite thing to wear on the mouth. I love the color range of lipsticks (I’m a total sucker for pinks!), as well as the pigment and sheen variation of different brands. It’s the versatility of this product that makes it such a staple and well-loved item for many women. Sheerer nude shades are very professional-looking, reds are classic and bold, pinks are playful and feminine, etc. Bolder colors, such as purple (in all it’s varieties-plum, lilac, violet) and browns have been having their time in the sun lately as well. There is a finish for every woman’s needs as well. Matte (no shimmer/glitter/sheen, just pure, bold color) are strong, fun, and many women say, empowering (but this long-wearing formula can, unfortunately, be drying). Frost finishes are metallic, bold and modern. Glaze-like lipsticks have a glossy sheen, but compromise pigment (these tend to be sheer, varying from gloss mostly in texture). Cream lipsticks are the standard, providing solid pigment with a subtle shine, applying smoothly to the lips. Your troubles with a lipstick can depend on the brand and formula. Some lesser quality lippies can settle into lip lines, bunch up on themselves, bleed/feather, transfer, be too sheer (or too pigmented), or dry out the lips over time, making them appear cracked and flaky. While most come in twist-up tubes, liquid lipsticks and lipstick pencils exist as well.
MAC, every beauty junkie’s gateway drug, makes wonderful lipsticks in a large variety of shades and formulas. However, lippies are one item that drugstore brands have been knocking out of the park lately. Cover Girl Lip Perfection, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter, Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Color, and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick are all great, affordable, and accessible. 
Image via Beautylish

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Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Haight Review

Image via Beautylish

I have a love-hate relationship with blue eyeshadow. The colors always look so pretty in the pan, but I find them difficult for me to wear. I’m always drawn to the interesting blues available, but scarcely end up wearing them. Urban Decay’s Haight eyeshadow is a slight exception. The feelings are reversed with this one. While it appears to be a straightforward primary blue in the pan, it goes on rather lovely. The color swatches as a shimmery blue-teal with a silver sheen, and applies as a rich, bold blue, with just a hint of teal noticeable. I’m pleased to see this color go on opaquely without primer. If primer is used, the blue is much, much more vibrant, with the green further receding, as if it were an undertone. The sheen is heightened over primer as well. Lovely!
Haight feels slightly dry when swatched, but the shadow isn’t powdery or difficult to work with. With or without a base, it blends without a problem. While the powder is strong over bare lids, primer really enhances this shadow. Looking at swatches of them side by side (one with a base, one without) the results seem like the same shadow was not used. The blue was much bolder with primer, the colors looked more like cousins than sisters. I see this as a plus; Being able to build up the vibrancy makes Haight more versatile, as the softer blue (without primer) is still rich, opaque, and performs well.
Without primer, Haight looked a wee bit faded and translucent after 2 hours. The fading looked more marked at 6 hours, and even less visible at 10. With primer, I had no fading issues at all, even after 10 hours. With or without a base, there was no fallout. 
I have no complaints with UD’s packaging. The “tokens” are small and easy to store, with no wasteful, unnecessary plastic. There is a clear window in the lid of each individual shade, allowing the owner to see the color within, which is helpful in organization. If you’re a fan of magnetic palettes, the new packages let the pan pop right out, making palette creation much easier. While the quality of UD shadows can range from “meh” to “awesome”, I don’t think the cost of the better shades ($18 USD) is unpalatable. Also, Urban Decay items are quite easy to come across. They’re available in department store boutiques, in specialty retailers such as Ulta and Sephora, and, of course, online. The brand is cruelty-free, but UD’s parent company, L’Oreal, does routinely do animal testing. Haight is one of the few Urban Decay shadows that predates the famous formula swap, and for good reason. It’s great to see a stellar permanent shade stick around (a lot of awesome shadows were lost!).
WITH PRIMER:
Color: 5/5
Wear: 5/5
Formula: 5/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 5/5
Overall: 5 (A+)

WITHOUT PRIMER:
Color:
5/5
Wear: 4/5
Formula: 5/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.7 (A)

Combined Scores: 4.9 (A+)
Recommend: Yes! Blue can be intimidating to wear, but I think the versatility and quality of Haight make it a good choice. Cosplayers, concert-goers, and bold shadow fans alike would love this.
Urban Decay products can be purchased from department stores, makeup shops, and online at urbandecay.com

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MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Shy Girl Review

Image via Dluxedition

Way back when I was a newcomer to the world of beauty, there were three basic shades of lipstick I felt I needed to own: pink, red, and nude. With the first two promptly checked off, I was on the hunt for a nice -nude to wear from the MAC counter. Myth was appallingly corpse-like on my fair skin. Creme Cup was adorable, but a touch too pink to be a true nude. I was torn, but eventually I decided on Shy Girl, a “creamy, neutral coral beige.” Color-wise, I’ve never regretted that decision. It’s not as dark as it appears in the photo above. On me, it goes on as a peachy-pink nude with a sheen. There was nothing coral about it!
Like a true cremesheen, it went on smoothly and with a shine without being overly emollient or wet feeling. It also applied with good pigmentation, as the formula promises. However, this would not go onto the lips evenly, even with manipulation tactics. Shy Girl settles into lip lines and bunches up over itself right from the get-go. From a distance, the hue is presentable, but the problems are clearly noticeable in a mirror. This has a MAC tackiness that develops as it wears. I don’t mind that texture, however, so it did not bother me. Because of the creaminess in the formula, this will transfer onto a cup if you take a drink.
This wore decently. I noticed some fading after just 3 hours. The pigment was still intact, just sheerer. It still felt creamy and non-drying, however. After 4 hours and light eating, the color was hanging on, but just barely. It looks very, very sheer at this point. By 5 hours, the color was completely gone. While it felt comfortable to wear throughout that time frame, my lips were peeling by the time it was over. (They were in good condition before testing Shy Girl). So don’t be deceived by the product’s creaminess! It’s actually a bit drying to wear, even if you can’t feel it happening.
MAC’s line of lipsticks comes in sleek, bullet-shaped matte black packaging, with a silver metal tube. These are nicely shaped and easy to store due to their modest size. Housed in the simple packaging is the standard amount of lipstick (0.01 oz). True to form, this lipstick is vanilla-scented with no taste. This range of lipsticks cost $15 USD. MAC is relatively easy to access via department stores (Macy’s, Nordstrom) and online, but cosmetic shops (like Sephora and Ulta) do not carry their products. MAC does animal test, “only where mandated by law.” Also, their parent company, Estee Lauder, does do animal testing.
Color: 4/5
Wear:
 3/5
Formula: 2/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Wow Factor: 2/5
Overall: 3.2 (C-)
Recommend: No. It’s a pretty color, but it’s relatively basic. Shy Girl performs too poorly at too high of a price to be worth purchasing. 
MAC products are available in department stores and online at maccosmetics.com

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Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero Review

Image via Sephora

There are always those few products on the market that get a lot of hype. Youtube gurus to professional makeup artists to the regular consumer often agree that a certain item is a must-have, and can go on and on about how wonderful it is. This cult status can not only be annoying to those who haven’t tried the said product, but it can create some skepticism as well. However, there should be absolutely no doubt about Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. All the claims are true: they’re creamy, pigmented, and have staying power, as well as a fab color selection. For many, these pencils are the standard, and many  liners are often compared to the quality of these (and often fall short!). I agree. I’m firmly in the “love these” camp, and consider them an HG product.
The first of these famous pencils that I had the pleasure of trying was the simple Zero, humbly listed as “black” on Sephora’s site. The swatch they include is actually pretty true to life as well, which is rare for a digital image. In my personal use, I found this to be a dark, rich, demi-matte, but not as dark or matte as it’s cousin, Perversion. 

The formula of this range of liners is really top-notch. They feel so creamy and smooth, but I’ve never had any trouble with them migrating. The pigment is excellent as well. Zero applied excellently to the lash line without pulling, dragging, or skipping, I got the color I desired in one pass. The liner also showed up richly on the waterline as well.
Another factor that boosts Zero’s ability to leave a lasting impression is how amazingly it wears. On the lash line, this wore like a dream for an unprecedented 10 hours. It looked 100% freshly applied at that mark-not a hint of fading, smudging, or migrating. The line was still rich, black, and solid. Stunning! Wear on the waterline was not as mind-blowing, but still impressive compared to other liners on the market. It was still pigmented and strong on the waterline after an hour; however the color was a little bit patchy. It was holding up, but looking patchier, by 3 hours. It began to wear away at the 4 hour mark, and was completely gone by 5 hours. 
The full-size liner comes with 0.04 oz of product, which is average. The full-size, however, is quite large (lengthwise), but they’re thin, so I imagine storing them is no more challenging than with the much more petite travel/sample size liners. The wood and label of the pencil is tinted the same hue as the color. In this case, the exterior is black, with silver lettering identifying the brand, product, and color name. Zero comes with a silver cylindrical cap and a silver end. I really like that the brand color-matched the pencil itself to the pigment. I think it’s convenient and also quite cute and different. However, UD pencils are notoriously tricky to sharpen, because they are so creamy. When one does sharpen the pencil, some product inevitably gets shaved off as well. I hear freezing the pencil before sharpening is useful in combating this. These retail for $19 USD, which seems pricey, but I believe it’s worth every penny in the quality you get out of these. UD is a cruelty-free brand. However, their parent company, L’Oreal, does not share their cruelty-free stance.
Color: 4.5/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 5/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 4.5/5
Wow Factor: 5/5
Overall: 4.8 (A)
Recommend: 100% absolutely, to everybody. Everyone could use a great, wearable black liner, and Zero delivers in all areas.

Urban Decay products are available at department stores and at specialty shops like Sephora.

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Beauty Snapshot: Cover Girl

Image via disneydreaming

“Easy, breezy, beautiful.”

Who: The Noxzema Chemical Company
What: An extensive, easily-accessible, affordable line of makeup.
Where: Maryland
When: 1961
What made Cover Girl different from it’s competitor’s at the time of it’s release was the use of widely-recognized public figures as models. Since it’s beginnings, this tactic proved beneficial to the brand. One of their earliest models, Jennifer O’Neill, helped garner widespread popularity for the company (and endorsed them for a stunning 30 years). American model Christie Brinkley also increased mass interest in the brand during 1985. In more recent years, the brand has been represented by wholesome “girls next door” such as Drew Barrymore, Ellen Degeneres, Rihanna, Janelle Monae, Pink, and Taylor Swift (above). A $100,000 USD contract and ad campaign for the brand was also a reward for America’s Next Top Model winners from the series’ third to eighteenth cycles. 
But apart from their friendly, relateable spokesmodels, the brand’s products speak for themselves. Undeniably, their line of Lashblast mascara and Lip Perfection Lipsticks keep interest in the brand high. Both of these products are high quality, long lasting, and affordable. Lashblast is reaching classic status with it’s widely-recognized pleasing results, and the Lip Perfection range is comfortable to wear with an awesome color selection. (Read PV’s review of Lashblast here and my review of two of the Lip Perfections, in Burn and Flame). 

Both images via Beautylish
In 1989, the brand was acquired by Proctor & Gamble. The brand itself no longer tests on animals; however, their parent company continues to do so. However, the brand supported it’s parent company’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water campaign by donating the proceeds of their 50th anniversary powders to the charity. CG has also given money to people in need via the Ellen Degeneres Show, such as a 13-year-old cancer patient, who hoped to be a makeup artist.

Cover Girl products are easily available at drugstores, mass retailers, and online, on their own website, and through specialty stores like Ulta. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Money Review (PALETTE EXCLUSIVE)

Image via Temptalia

I was stunned to learn that Urban Decay did not release the shade Money when they improved their shadow formula. At risk of sounding redundant, the brand famously discontinued nearly their entire line to usher in new shades, as well as single pans of shadows that previously had only been seen in palettes, with their new formula. Money is a great, complex, cool silvery-green shade that is interesting and not quite like any other shade I own. I’m disappointed there’s never been a single of this available, especially since many shadows of lesser quality and originality were introduced to UD’s new lineup.
This shadow swatched nicely with a smooth texture. Without primer, the color goes on with a touch of sheerness, and appears predominantly silver on the lid. It can be built up, but there is some fallout. With primer, this goes on opaquely. The color is still largely silver at a glance, but the greenish tinge is more pronounced than without primer. There was no fallout with primer. With or without a base, this shade blends without a problem.
After an hour, there was more fallout when used without a primer. It also looked faded and patchy by this time without a base. By 3 hours, there was just a sheer, faded, silver tinge. It wore this way until I removed the shadow. However, by 6 hours, I did experience a bit more fallout. With primer, this held up much better. There was slight fading by 3 hours, but the pigment was still richer than without using a primer. The color was still strong and opaque, and wore excellently like this, without fallout, for 10 hours.
Money was originally included in the Book of Shadows 3 (which launched in October 2010), and then was repromoted in the Mariposa palette (for the holiday season in 2011). There’s not much powder kickup when you dip your brush into this shadow, which is especially important with palettes, as you don’t want crossover into the other shades. While I can’t speak on the Mariposa palette, the BoS III is not at all large, making it quite travel-friendly and easy to store. Money is unfortunately a little smaller than UD’s full-size shadows (0.03 oz versus 0.05 oz). I can’t fairly judge this hue on price and packaging, though. It appeared in 2 separate palettes at 2 dramatically different prices with a variety of different products included influencing the overall cost. The Mariposa palette is still available from UD, at a discount. The BoS, however, would vary dramatically in price and package condition depending on the seller (think used on eBay vs new on Amazon). Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand, but has recently been purchased by L’Oreal, a brand that does animal test. 
WITH PRIMER:
Color: 4/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: –
Price:
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.25 (B)


WITHOUT PRIMER:
Color:
4/5

Wear: 2/5
Formula: 3/5
Packaging: –
Price:
Wow Factor: 2/5
Overall: 2.75 (D+)


Combined Scores: 3.5 (C)

Recommend: It’s an interesting color with the green tinge, but not interesting enough to where I can justify the hunt for a palette that contains this (plus the slew of other products in it, and the more expensive price).

Urban Decay’s products are widely available online and at various retailers. You can still purchase the Mariposa palette, which includes Money, on their website (at a discount!). medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo Review

Image via Now Magazine

I have a special place in my heart for MAC’s lipstick in Ruby Woo. It was one of the first lipsticks I’d bought myself when I first got into makeup. I was looking for a great red lippie, looking for something blue based to match my cooler undertones. I tried Russian Red, but found it was strikingly orange on me. The MUA recommended Ruby Red instead, and I was smitten.
I feel like this shade is a cult classic. However, there’s some polarity in the beauty community. People either love it or hate it. However, I think it’s a great, worthwhile red to purchase. MAC describes it as a “very matte vivid blue red.” This description is spot-on. The color is pigment-packed and very vibrant. It’s richness and impact looks great across a spectrum of skin tones, and it’s also a great candidate for an old-Hollywood, classic ’40’s look. It’s definitely a confidant, attention-getting shade.
The wear with this lipstick is also pleasing. It looked freshly applied, although slightly less rich at 2 hours. After 4 hours and a full meal, the color was still wholly intact and vibrant. Some of that shocking redness had lessened since initial application, but it still packed a pigment punch. The color was still bold and would get attention from across the room, so I wouldn’t describe what occurred as “fading.” The “dullness” of the shade did come on evenly, though. Some fading did occur by 6 hours, and it was a bit uneven. The top lip looked more worn off than the bottom lip. At 7 hours (and another, more oily meal) the red shade was still intact, but it was faded. The color was more pronounced around the outside of the lips (as the meal had worn away  some of the pigment in the center of the mouth). The natural lip color also began to peek through. Despite this, one could either reapply the color, or continue wearing it the way it is (as these “flaws” are not too noticeable from a normal viewing distance). By 8 hours, though, there was an unflattering ring of color around my mouth, and some pigment had settled into lip lines at that point. Otherwise, it had completely worn off, so it would be best to reapply or remove at this point. 
Ruby Woo is famously a matte formula. It’s one of the more traditional, “matter” formulas. By this, I mean that it does go on feeling very dry from the tube. There’s a stiffness in the product. That stiffness makes it a little difficult to work with. A lip brush and an emollient base, like a balm or mixing medium, perhaps, could assists in easing the application.When applying this, I noticed it had a strange, powdery feeling. That powderiness persists the entire time this product wears. If there are dry patches on the lips, you’ll need to go over them with this to get the color to show evenly. 
However, there was nothing inherently drying about this formula. After wearing it for 8 hours, my lips didn’t feel worse for wear or in need of balm. Also, my mouth wasn’t peeling or flaky. Having said that, my lips were in good condition when I tested this. There have been times when I’ve applied this having very dry, cracked lips. In those instances, this lippie felt like a nightmare to wear. My lips felt like they were shrink-wrapped by the product and the formula seemed to suck the life out of them more. So it’s not that the matte formula itself is drying. It really depends on the condition of your lips before wear. Moisturized lips make for a better base for this shade.
Like all MAC lipsticks, this comes in a black, bullet shaped case with a silver inner tube. The cap snaps shut firmly. This also has the standard pleasing vanilla scent that is signature to the brand. These are small enough in size to store easily and I find the packaging to be quite sleek. There’s 0.1 oz of product in the tube, retailing for $15 USD. MAC’s animal testing policy states that they do not test on animals “except when absolutely mandated by law.” This sentiment is also true for the brand’s parent company, Estee Lauder.
Color: 5/5
Wear: 4/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.5 (A-)
Recommend: Yes, it’s a great, classic red. However, it’s a little dry, and it’s prettiness depends on the condition of your lips. 
MAC products are available online and at retailers like Nordstrom.

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Benefit They’re Real! Mascara Review

Image via Beautylish

I had heard about Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara, and was interested if it lived up to it’s claims. That was a tall order, considering that this mascara claims to do it all-“lengthen, curl, volumize, lift, and separate”! Maybe it was the cute packaging or the retro ad that got me. Whatever it was, I wanted this mascara as soon as I saw it. 
And fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. This does have the dark, rich black color the brand claims. However, when it comes to their other statements, well… whether or not They’re Real! lives up to your expectations depends on how you define “lengthen, curl, volumize, lift, and separate.” While I did technically see all these results, some were impressive, and some were negligible. 
I did not get base-to-tip curl when wearing this, there was just a very, very slight upturn of the tips of my lashes. There was also a very minor volumizing effect-slightly thicker, but nothing like a true volumizing formula would give. There was also a wee bit of separation, but not much. However, when it comes to length, this mascara smacks you in the face with it. The length you get is impressive and excellent, which serves as this mascaras best purpose. Over prepped lashes (manually curled and separated), the curl and length are even more impressive. The lashes become lifted and fanned out, creating a crazy false-lash effect.
They’re Real! also holds up excellently as a mascara, with the curl (over prepped lashes) 5 hours before it began to wilt. The curl gradually drooped, but wasn’t gone completely until 11 hours of wear. If you are one of the rare people who don’t prep their lashes and just apply mascara from the tube, you will find that your lashes will begin to look more natural after 8 hours of solid wear from this formula. If you curl/comb your lashes, you’ll find that this mascara didn’t begin to fade until about 10 hours, which is more than average. It did not completely wear off when I had curled/combed my lashes, and lasted my until I removed the product (after 11 hours of pretty great wear). Apart from the curl very slowly diminishing, the product stayed put. But with either treatment of the lashes, there was no smudging, flaking, or clumping, ever.
This mascara gets it’s oomph undeniably from the wand design. The wand is made of dense, spiky plastic bristles of varying lengths. The brush really hooks onto your lashes and feels like it’s combing through each one from root to tip. There’s also a small collection of bristles forming a ball at the tip to help reach those baby hairs that are tricky to get to. This tool is very helpful and effective. However, these bristles are very sharp, and will cause your eyes to water should you happen to poke yourself (and hence, product runoff from the tears). So please be careful and take your time using a wand like this. 
The full-size product comes in a tapered shiny silver tube with black and orange text. The tube contains 0.3 oz of product, which is about average. You can purchase the full size of the mascara for $23 USD, or a sample size (like I did) for $10 USD. The sample size is in a black, more matte tube with the same lettering, and contains 0.14 oz of product. Benefit has a wishy-washy animal testing policy (stating they don’t test on animals on their site but can’t stand by that saying 100%, etc), but as far as I can tell, their parent company, LVMH, does not conduct animal testing.
Color: 5/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 5/5
Packaging: 4.5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 5/5
Overall: 4.9 (A+)
Recommend: Absolutely! This is a great mascara with color, length, and staying power. It even lives up to its other claims, even if it is in a small way. This is great standalone or for layering over volumizing mascara for a real false lash effect.

Benefit products are available online and at specialty shops like Sephora. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

ELF Shimmer Eye Pencil in Twinkle Teal Review

Image via Ubernova

I had heard about ELF cosmetics for a while before gaining the opportunity to try them. I had first heard about their brushes (and I’m proud to say I own a few), but it wasn’t until my mother gifted me this Shimmer Eye Pencil did I get a chance to try out their makeup. The color she gave me is called Twinkle Teal; However, I only discovered this after sleuthing the internet (the hue is not labeled on the pencil).The title is apt, though. On the lid, this appears to be a bright, shimmery, medium blue teal.
I was impressed with the pigment an inexpensive liner like this achieved. One pass wasn’t enough to get a solid line, but it only needed a quick once-over. It didn’t drag, tug, or skip, either. While the liner does seem sharply pointed at first, it only hurts for a split second when applied to the lash line. It melds into something more comfortable to use very quickly (unlike, say, Wet ‘n’ Wild eyeliners, which need a good rubbing down before being usable). This wasn’t stiff or dry, but didn’t have Urban Decay quality creaminess, either. However, there was enough creaminess to cause some migration after a few hours, unfortunately. 
The color that results seemed great, on par with the more expensive liners on the market. However, I was disappointed to discover that this had faded slightly after just an hour (although the fading was even). The color remained noticeably blue, but it wasn’t as bright or shimmery as it was at first. But it didn’t stop there; the color faded consistently, looking even less blue at 3 hours, wearing down into a shade of blue with a bizarre grayish tinge after 4 hours, and wearing away unevenly and migrated to the lower lash line by 5 hours. Tsk Tsk. The shade remained like this for more than 6 hours, though (resulting in more than 11 hours of wear). However, I recommend removing or reapplying after the 5 hour mark, to get a prettier, more even line of blue.
The packaging of this line of pencils is also worth discussing. While petite (the size of UD’s travel/sample liners), the pack just as much product as their competitors’ full-size liners (which is 0.05 oz). However, the odd thing about the Shimmer Eye Pencils is that they come with a clear plastic cap that has a built-in sharpener. “Oh, convenient!” you might say. But all is not what it seems. The cap-sharpener did a surprisingly great job of sharpening the pencil-that is, until I pulled it out and realized a ton of leftover product got jammed inside the blade! Not only is this wasteful of product, but it’s gross to look at and unhygienic  And because the sharpener is placed at a tricky angle, it’s difficult to remove the buildup. I recommend using a separate sharpener, or maybe freezing the liner before ever using the sharpener in the cap to reduce waste. I’d love to hear of a way to clean this type of cap out!
ELF products are pretty widely available. While not peppering the aisles of every corner drugstore, they are well-stocked at the likes of Target and K-Mart, which are still very common (I’d say most cities have at least one or the other). Their products are affordable (these liners are only $1!) and not terrible quality in spite of the price. Also, remarkably, ELF is both independently-owned and 100% cruelty-free, with no animal testing or animal ingredients used, ever.
Color: 4/5
Wear: 3/5
Formula: 3/5
Packaging: 4/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 3/5
Overall: 3.7 (C+)
Recommend: Yes, if you’re looking for cruelty-free eyeliners in fun colors and don’t want to shell out the cash for something more expensive, and don’t mind the relatively short wear time. No, if you need your liner to stay put and wear vibrantly. 
ELF products are available at mass retailers and online at eyeslipsface.com

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Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Midnight Cowboy Rides Again Review

Image via Beautylish

Moving on in my seemingly never-ending litany of Urban Decay eyeshadows is the shimmery/glittery champagne gold neutral, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again. UD describes this shade as a “Shimmer” (shimmery) and “Sparkle” (glittery) hue, and both textures are spot on-this shade has ’em both. On an unprimed eyelid, this goes on a lot less glittery and more neutral than in a swatch. It does retain a shimmer, though. This was surprisingly a great everyday shade in terms of hue (not texture-there was fallout)-on the lid, it appears as a soft rose gold that blocks out veins and discoloration on the lid. Over a primer, the rose gold is more pronounced, and the glitter manages to make it to the eye. The glitter twinkles in the light, but the shade still looks subtle and “daytime.” The sparkly chunks also didn’t feel too large or gritty. Both with and without primer, this shade went on opaquely and had no trouble blending.
While the color is undeniably pretty, MCRA is incredibly prone to fallout. Within an hour, I had glitter all over my undereye and browbone areas, as well as some near my mouth, surprisingly. The color itself remains nicely on the lid without fading, but all the glitter is going to, unfortunately, migrate all over your face. However, in true UD formula, the product stayed this way until the 8 hour mark. At that point, the unprimed eye was faded and translucent, but the hue had faded evenly. With primer, the color remained without fading for over 10 hours. However, that glitter that had fallen out also remained over my face during the wear period, so that is worth factoring in if you’re considering this product.
UD’s single shadows come packaged in small, circular plastic containers that hold 0.05 oz of product (which is average). There is a small window in the lid to see the color within. I like that these are easy to store and don’t have a bunch of wasteful, unnecessary plastic in the packaging. UD’s new formula also has pans that pop out easily, if you’re into the magnetic palette thing. Their shadows retail for $18 USD. The brand famously is cruelty-free; however, their parent company is L’Oreal, which is equally famous for their animal testing. 
WITH PRIMER:
Color:
 5/5
Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Wow Factor: 2/5
Overall: 4 (B-)

WITHOUT PRIMER:
Color:
5/5
Wear: 4/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Wow Factor: 2/5
Overall: 3.8 (C+)

Combined Scores: 3.9 (C+)
Recommend: Yes, without primer, because it’s a very pretty, rosy daytime hue. Using it without primer may compromise richness, but the fallout will be far less severe. If you’re willing to go the extra step and use a glitter glue, you should have no problems with this shade.
Urban Decay products are available online and at specialty shops like Sephora.

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