Month: September 2013

Essie Braziliant Nail Polish Review

Image via essie

Essie quickly became one of my favorite polish brands due to it’s affordability and ease of access, not to mention the quality and color selection! The second Essie polish I’ve tried (and has been in my stash for quite a while now), is Braziliant, a “hot orange nail lacquer with a touch of shimmer,” which came out with the brand’s Summer 2011 Braziliant Collection. The brand’s description is spot-on: it’s a warm, summery, bright orange, with a smattering of fine gold shimmer that’s subtle, but clearly visible in bright light. 
I had no trouble with applying this polish. The brush isn’t too wide or short, so it was easy to maneuver and get the polish evenly across the nail. The formula itself is thin without being watered down or runny, so it doesn’t take forever to dry down. This has good coverage in one coat, but two is required for flawless opacity. There’s a natural shine to it on it’s own, but of course, it can be enhanced with a shiny top coat (I use Revlon’s). I was also impressed with how long I was able to wear this shade. I achieved 10 days of pretty looking nails, with moderate tip wear.
Essie’s packaging is cute: sturdy glass bottles with the brand’s name carved lengthwise into it, with somewhat short white plastic caps. As previously mentioned, the brush isn’t too long or short, but the cap is small enough to wear I think those with longer fingers may find it a bit small. Essie polishes contain 0.5 oz of polish for $8 USD, which is equal in both weight and price as famous salon brand, OPI. (For those keeping track, both are $16 per ounce.) However, Essie has slightly more availability-it’s common to find a brand display at any local drugstore, as well as Ulta and Target. OPI can be found at the latter two locations as well, but as mentioned, it’s more of a salon brand that hasn’t quite made it’s way to the drugstore. 
Essie polishes have great color selections, as well as frequently coming out with cute new collections, which was the way Braziliant came to us. As far as I can tell, it’s still available for purchase. But what’s really great about this shade is that it is 3-free (formulated without DBP, Touluene, and Formaldehyde). Cute, affordable, quality color that doesn’t harm your nails? Yes, please. Also, Essie bottles are small and squared off, so they store easily and neatly. However, since the caps match, they could use a tactic to store, such as arranging them alphabetically by shade name or in the order you purchased them, to avoid confusion.
Color: 5/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4.5/5
Packaging: 4.5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.75 (A)
Recommend: Yes. Braziliant is a gorgeous color that even looked great (although, bold!) against my cool, fair skin, as well as on darker beauties. The formula is not harmful and easy to work with, and while it’s on the higher end of drugstore, the price is still manageable. It’s got great quality that definitely delivers.

Essie polishes are available at drugstores, mass retailers, and online at essie.com.

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Shiro Loose Eyeshadow in Mistrust Review

Image via Shiro Cosmetics

Next up in my reviews of Shiro’s The Notebook Collection is the “dirty orange-brown with silver sparkles” shade, Mistrust. The brand description isn’t too far off. To me, it looked like a warm, chocolaty brown with silver and orange sparkles. As with all the shadows in this collection, I applied mine foiled (wet). Initially, it looks a little browner when applied over primer, but as it dries down, there’s not visible difference between using the shade with or without a neutral base.  
Shiro Divine Justice has a warmer, browner base, is frostier, and has a duochrome. Also, the orange-brown tones in Divine Justice have a very unique layered effect, whereas Mistrust is distinctly brown, the orange tones are only in the glitter. Divine Justice has no glitter. Mistrust looks lighter and more orange in comparison. When I wore them on my eyes together, truthfully, I couldn’t tell them apart, so I definitely don’t think you need both. 
Mistrust went on easily, evenly, and opaque. It wasn’t a problem to blend. Oddly, I had a bit of application fallout when I used this with a primer, but no issues with fallout when I put this shade over my bare lids. Also strangely, within moments, the orange and brown in this shade begin to look patchy, as if they were separating, a la Divine Justice. However, even without a base, Mistrust still looked clearly brown. I didn’t get any of the patchiness when I used this with a base, though. 
After eight hours of wear, Mistrust was still looking fresh, as if I had just applied it: no creasing, no fading, and no additional fallout. So apart from the initial issues, it was a solid shade. I found the glitter in this hue really pretty and autumnal. Even though Divine Justice’s layered effect was cool, and even though Mistrust had some issues, I would pick this shade over the former if I was stuck between the two. This is because the pigment in Mistrust is bound better (Divine Justice just looks muddy and dirty). However, Divine Justice had pretty much no application issues, so of course, the choice is yours!
I purchased my Shiro shadows in the “medium”, 1g size. Mine came in small, circular, clear plastic jars, with screw-on lids, a sifter inside, and a color-label sticker/ingredients list on the bottom of each one. Since Shiro is an indie brand, there can be some inconsistencies with the packaging, e.g, some sifters can be difficult (dispensing too much or too little), some lids can be tricky to screw on, etc. The plastic isn’t super thick, and these are pretty small in size, so I don’t think they’re ideal for travel. Even if you put them in a plastic bag, so they wouldn’t get lost in the bottom of your travel makeup bag, a good amount of product will come out of the sifter as the shadows get tumbled around (the lids screw on nice and tight, so there’s little risk of product waste, but if you’re very neat, opening up the lid and finding a ton of product already sifted out may be annoying or inconvenient). Also, because of the sifter, the lids can get quite dirty.
Shiro sells their shades in three different sizes, sample baggies for $1, 1g jars for $.350 USD each, and the full, 2g size for $5 USD each. Shiro features a permanent “buy the whole collection and get 10% off” deal with this collection, as well as with most of the brand’s other collections. Each shadow is hand-made, cruelty-free, and vegan. And, like many of the shadows in this collection, Mistrust is safe for use on the lips, if you desire. However, since the brand is pretty small, their availability is limited to their online site. However, their customer service is amazing, and I received my package within 2 weeks of placing my order.
Color: 4/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.1 (B-)
Recommend: As I’ve said, you don’t need both Mistrust and Divine Justice. Mistrust is a pretty brown shade, but a lot of that prettiness comes from the glitter. I don’t think it’s highly dupe-able, but I don’t think it’s the most unique shade, either. If you really love it, the quality and price point could be worth a purchase.

 Shiro Cosmetics are available at shirocosmetics.com

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Shiro Loose Eyeshadow in Heaven Nor Hell Review

Image via Shiro Cosmetics

Next in my review of Shiro’s The Notebook Collection is the “velvety, shimmery, gunmetal grey” Heaven Nor Hell. This is a pretty accurate description; I saw it as a steely, gunmetal blue-grey. It definitely has that cool, clearly blue tone to it. This is a frosty shade with no glitter, but it looked more frosty without a base. Over Urban Decay Primer Potion, it looked softer and more like a satin.
UDPP was not the best base for this shade, though. I found it made the application of HNH a bit difficult, although I was able to smooth it out and get it even. This shade did go on vibrantly and opaque, though. It also blends easily, and I can say I don’t have any other shades like this. 
I’m happy to report that this is another winner from Shiro-I achieved flawless wear for a full 8 hours. Once the shadow dried down after blending, it didn’t budge. It looked exactly the same as when I first applied it, no creasing (even though I used mine wet), no fading, no fallout, no problems. 
As I’ve mentioned in all my Shiro reviews, the products come in a variety of sizes, and mine are the “medium” 1 gram jars. They’re very small, circular, clear plastic, with a sifter included and a screw-on lid. The lid can take a bit of getting used to (you have to press down on it, then twist it shut, not screw it from the top, down) but they tend to stay sealed and keep the product in there. Although depending on your storage and application methods, the lids can get a bit messy. 
But, because Shiro is an indie brand, they’re able to put out excellent quality like this at a very wallet-friendly price. My medium size jars only cost $3.50 each (a full size of one is only $5 USD). And because I purchased the whole collection at once, I was able to utilize the sites offer and get a 10% discount. Shiro is a great brand for many reasons, including the fact that they understand that a person-like me-may be tempted to buy a whole collection based on what inspired it (in this case, it was one of my favorite anime) and they continuously offer the “buy the whole collection, get 10% off” deal, for nearly any collection you want. There’s no size limit, either, as in, buy the sample bags, the 1g jars, or the full size, you still get 10% off when you buy the whole shebang together.
Not to mention what else makes this brand top-notch: shipping was considerably quick (my order was in my mailbox in less than 2 weeks), and the founder, Caitlin Johnstone, included a hand-written note thanking me for my order, and she even threw in some candies and 2 sample shadows, just to say thanks. That’s what I love about indie brands, they really put their heart, passion, and appreciation in every product they make. Also, as is de rigueur with indie brands, all of Shiro’s products are affordable, cruelty-free, vegan, and hand-made. The only downside is, they’re only available online.
Color: 4/5

Wear: 5/5 
Formula: 5/5
Packaging: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.3 (B+)
Recommend: Yes, Heaven Nor Hell is a great, unique shade that would look awesome as an alternative to black for a nighttime smoky eye, or as an accent color. The only thing really knocking this shadow’s grade down is the packaging, which I find frustrating.

Shiro Cosmetics are available for purchase at shirocosmetics.com

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Shiro Loose Eyeshadow in Heart Attack Review

Image via Shiro Cosmetics

When I received my order of The Notebook Collection from indie brand Shiro, the “deep maroon with blue duochrome” shade Heart Attack was one of the hues I was most excited about. The brand’s description isn’t totally accurate, though. I found this shade to be a frosty, cranberry/wine color, with silver and blue glitter. There was no duochrome, but the shade was still really pretty. As with all loose shadows, I foiled mine, and Heart Attack looked the same on the lid with or without a base. I had a few slight lookalikes in my collection: Urban Decay Last Call, when foiled, is lighter, warmer, and less berry, and also has a golden sheen and no glitter. This is the closest dupe though, as the base colors, when foiled, are only slightly different. L’Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Glistening Garnet (foiled) is lighter, pinker, has a gold sheen, and no glitter. MAC Star Ruby (foiled)  is much lighter, rosier, and golder, and has no glitter.
I used Urban Decay Primer Potion to test this shadow, and oddly, I noticed that the base made the shadow more difficult to apply. The powder went on patchy and was more fussy to blend, and the base didn’t add any of the promised color intensity. However, when applied without a base, the shade was smooth, easy to blend, and opaque. It went on without a hitch. I had no fallout when I applied this either way.
Like the other Shiro shadows I’ve tried so far, Heart Attack completely impressed me in terms of wear. Once it dried down, it stayed put for a full eight hours and didn’t budge. Even though this shade has glitter in it, I experienced no fallout whatsoever. It stayed bright and solid, with no unevenness, or fading around the edges. It continued to look the same as when I initially applied it.
I have the “medium” size of these shadows, (aka, a small, 1 gram jar). The packaging is small, circular clear plastic with a sifter included, a screw-on lid, and a sticker marking the color name and ingredients on the bottom. I think it’s a nice touch they included their ingredients right on the packaging. However, I noticed some inconsistencies between the different shadows’ packaging (which is kind of expected, considering Shiro is an indie brand). In this case, the sifter on my Heart Attack let out way too much product to use at one time. However, the lid screws on tightly, and none goes to waste. The interior of the lid is prone to getting dirty, though.
The cost of the 1 gram jars is $3.50 each. A full-size (2 gram) jar will set you back only $5. I purchased the entire Notebook Collection at once, though, which came with a special 10% discount for doing so (many of Shiro’s collections feature the discount). Also, many of the loose eyeshadows, including Heart Attack, are safe for use on the lips. The brand is also completely cruelty-free and vegan. So needless to say, Shiro shadows are value-packed, especially given the quality you get. The only downside, though, is that, like many other indie brands, Shiro is only available online.
Color: 4/5

Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4.5/5
Packaging: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.3 (B+)
Recommend: Yes. Even though Heart Attack is pretty dupable, this version is super pretty (with the extra touch of glitter), wears nonstop, is the most affordable, and is completely cruelty-free and vegan.

Shiro Cosmetics are available for purchase online at shirocosmetics.com

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Urban Decay Vice 2 Palette for Holiday 2013


For the holiday season, Urban Decay launched the second iteration of thier Vice Palette. This time around, the palette contains 20 new shades, featuring different levels of boldness and textures. The packaging is not much different than the first version of the palette, e.g, purple magnetic case, full-size mirror, a double-ended brush included, etc. The palette seems to contain more shimmer/glitters than mattes, and a good mix of neutrals and bright hues. The colors also seem to mix well enough-a good combo of lid colors, darker colors, and brow highlights, but they also seem like they can be used easily with other shades in the brand’s range or your own personal stash. 
All of UD’s products (including the brushes) are cruelty-free. However, the brand’s parent company is L’Oreal, which does utilize unkind animal practices. Hence, buying UD products will benefit their parent company’s less-kind animal practices. Each pan contains 0.03 oz of product, and a full-size UD shadow has 0.05 oz. But none of these shades are currently available for solo purchase, so if you love most of them, it’s pretty value-packed: the whole shebang is only $59 USD. 
The Vice 2 palette is currently available for purchase on urbandecay.com and will in stores soon.

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Back to School Makeup

It’s that time of year again, when makeup needs to simple and quick to help students achieve a fresh-faced look on early mornings. The great thing about this sort of makeup is that it’s easy to customize: if you have trouble-free skin, skip foundation. If you have soft, pigmented lips, skip a lip color. It fits all women (we’ve all been there), all races, and all budgets. And generally, back to school makeup is limitless: if you want a little color or want to experiment with a new technique, this is a place without rules that’ll allow you to go for it (given you don’t hold yourself back by caring what others think-which you shouldn’t!)

(P.S., all of these images are via Beautylish)

So, let’s get started. First, the face. Foundation helps with achieving a smooth, fresh, awake look, but can vary widely depending on your needs. Whatever you choose, it should feel light and comfortable on the skin for a full day of wear. I like Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation for sheer coverage, while Revlon Colorstay is a popular drugstore option that covers a bit more. Depending on the condition of your skin, concealer may be an even more important step than foundation, as it does more to achieve the awake glow by hiding dark circles and redness. Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer is a full-coverage option in 20 shades. Truthfully, any setting powder that doesn’t cake will help you stay matte and get the job done. MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder remains a popular choice.

For eyes, a simple color wash/highlight adds life to the face and helps you look more awake. Urban Decay Naked Basics has great neutral options for a serious student. Wet ‘n’ Wild makes great trios in soft shades of color that are good quality for those who want to experiment with hues that are a little more bold. Black or brown liner is a great and common choice-Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are still the best of the best. Any mascara that you love will work for class; my favorite is Maybelline Colossal Volum’Express.

And the finishing touches: blush is another one of those whatever-you-like products that will work well for school. Powder, cream, pink, peach, coral, shimmery, matte, whatever. NARS Blush is arguably what the brand does best, but the drugstore is full of awesome picks; I’ve heard great things about Wet ‘n’ Wild’s in particular. For lips, you can have a bit of fun, especially in high school. I like Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss for sheer, fun color. If you prefer a more natural look, Maybelline Baby Lips balm instantly makes your lips look better, while adding a nice, natural shine.

Finally, if you’re really in a rush, don’t forget time savers! A dark shadow can be used wet in place of liner, a soft, shimmery shadow can also be used as a cheek highlighter, and multipurpose products, like NARS The Multiple can be used on the eyes, cheeks, and lips (in a pinch, any cream product can generally be used the same way-make sure they’re eye/lip safe first!).
 

What did you wear on your first day back to school?

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