cruelty free

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara Review + Photos

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Effectiveness: Perversion promises to be “lengthening and volumizing.” This description is accurate enough. I found this mascara to be more lengthening than volumizing, but I did notice both results.The results weren’t amazing, but not disappointing, either. (4/5)

Wear: I achieved perfect wear using this mascara. It lasted a full 8 hours looking good as new. It held a curl for the duration of the testing period and the lashes stayed a rich, dark black. (5/5)

Formula: Urban Decay describes Perversion mascara as “ultracreamy,” and I have to agree. This mascara feels really wet. This can lead to some clumps if you rush application. However, the mascara dries down and does not budge (I accidentally rubbed my eye and there wasn’t the tiniest flake or smudge). (4.5/5)

Packaging: The tube is sleek, shiny plastic with stylish lilac lettering. The wand is chubby with bristles that are varied in size. I didn’t find it cumbersome to use, although as with all thicker brushes, it can take some care to get into the tiny baby hairs in the inner corners. (5/5)

Price: I received this as a 100-point perk from Sephora, but the full size is $22 USD for 0.4 oz of product. You can also purchase a travel size for $12 USD. For the full size, it comes out to $55 an ounce, which isn’t terrible. (For comparison, Benefit’s They’re Real! is $2 more expensive and contains 0.1 oz less product).

As always, I weigh in on whether or not I believe a product is worth the price. Perversion delivers on rich color, ease of use, staying power, and doing what it says it will, even if it’s not the most innovative or amazing in the industry. It’s a reliable mascara without any bells and whistles, so I believe it warrants it’s price tag. (5/5)

Wow Factor: I wasn’t blown away by Perversion. I have less expensive mascaras that give better length and volume. However, I wasn’t let down by the product, because it shines in it’s staying power, ability to hold a curl, lack of smudging, and dark, rich color. (3.5/5)

Overall: I enjoy this mascara, but I often find myself reaching for other mascaras. It’s nice and gets the job done well enough, but it didn’t make enough of an impression in length or volume to really stand out to me. (4.5) A-

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Useful Information:
-I received this product as a 100-point perk from Sephora.
-Urban Decay is cruelty free, but its parent company, L’Oreal, is not.

Availability:
-urbandecay.com
-Sephora
-Ulta
-Debenham’s
-Nordstrom
-Macy’s

NYX Macaron Lippie in Chambord Review + Swatches

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Color:
NYX just describes this lippie as “black.” That’s certainly not off the mark! Chambord is a semi-matte (as promised) green-based black. This is a true black, not a dark grey, and the pigment is true to what you see in the tube. It’s a twinge sheer in one swipe, but two is perfect for true opacity. While other black lipsticks exist, and there’s definitely a market for them, black is still absent from most major brands’ lines, so it’s great seeing NYX come out with one. 4.75/5)

Wear:
I’m pleased to say Chambord looked fantastic for 5 full hours of wear. It didn’t fade or feather throughout that time. (5/5)

Formula:
Like the other lippies in the Macaron range, Chambord applied smoothly and felt so creamy. It also had bold, strong pigment (that could benefit from the precision of a lip brush). I like that this applied better than some of the others. This was more forgiving on dry lips and didn’t bunch up like Blue Velvet did on dry patches. Also, my lips didn’t feel as dried out after wearing Chambord. However, I had this on for a few moments to photograph, and it had already stained my lips (to the point where I needed a scrub to get the color off all the way). That type of excessive pigment seems to be common with this range of lipsticks. (4/5)

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Packaging:
As I’ve said before, the Macaron Lippie line’s packaging feels markedly cheap. They come in black plastic tubes with a clear band that shows a peek of the color inside. To show that color, the inner tube is clear, which I think looks very low-budget. Also, these have an inexpensive feel (the lipstick can rattle in the tube in some, and I have one where the color was smeared inside the clear tube when I bought it). I don’t think the plastic is dexterous enough to withstand a lot of rough use (drops or travel). However, they’re not too large and store easily. (3.5/5)

Price:
Each Macaron Lippie is $6 USD for 0.16 oz of product. That’s $37.50 per ounce, which is more product for less money than a MAC lipstick ($16 for 0.1 oz), for example. But of course, quality is just as important as face value. Chambord is fantastic not only for the price, but for the line as a whole. (5/5)

Wow Factor:
As I’ve mentioned, black lipsticks are rare and bold, but not unheard of and definitely have their fans. So while the shade was one of the less unique in the range, it’s quality impressed me. I’ve struggled with some of the other lipsticks in the Macaron range, as my lips are chronically dry, but Chambord was more forgiving, which I appreciated greatly. I can see myself getting more use out of Chambord than some of the others for this, alone. (4.5/5)

Overall:
I think Chambord is excellently done. It’s pigment rich, long-wearing, and comfortable to have on the lips. It also has one of the most even applications out of any in the Macaron range that I’ve tried so far. I think it’s fantastic that members of niche cosmetic communities (cosplayers/those with a darker aesthetic) now have access to a superior black lipstick than was previously available, at an inexpensive cost. It also goes without saying that a shade this dark will look bold and dramatic across all skin tones. (4.5) A-

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Availability:
-nyxcosmetics.com
-Target
-Ulta

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-The 12 lipsticks in this range all have a nice, faint vanilla scent.
-NYX is cruelty-free.

NYX Macaron Lippie in Blue Velvet Review + Swatches

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Color:
NYX describes Blue Velvet as “electric blue.” To me, it’s a cool-toned medium dark aqua blue, with the satin matte finish the brand described. I certainly don’t have a shade like this in my collection, and I think blue lippies in general are hard to find, so I appreciate BV’s uniqueness. (5/5)

Wear:
This lipstick wore pretty well, only starting to look a bit sheer (up close) at the 5 hour mark. Throughout wear time, BV was comfortable and didn’t dry my lips out. (4.5/5)

Formula:
This had the same creamy formula as Black Sesame. How smoothly this applies, though, depends on the condition of your lips. Smooth lips = smooth application. My lips were the slightest bit dry when I photographed this, and as you can see below, it caused the lipstick to go on patchy and bunch up in places. I liked that this was fully opaque and dried down more than Black Sesame. It never got tacky, but it didn’t feel too wet, either. Also, this is opaque to a fault. I applied this for just a moment to photograph it, and it left behind a stain and clung to the lips in a ring around the mouth, to the point where a scrub was necessary to remove it. (3/5)

Packaging:
This line of lipsticks skimped on packaging. The black plastic tubes feel cheap, and sometimes the product rattles around inside. Also, the inner tube is clear, which i very low quality looking (as one tube actually somehow had product smeared on the inside of that tube, so I can’t remove it but have to see it). I don’t think the plastic is durable enough to withstand a lot of travel or accidental drops without cracking. They are small enough to store easily, though. (3/5)

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Price:
As I’ve mentioned before, Macaron Lippies are the most cost-effective per-ounce cosmetic product I’ve ever seen! They’re $6 USD each for 0.16 oz of product (just 3 cents per ounce). But quality is an important part of this aspect of rating a product. I think Blue Velvet is wildly pigmented and unique, and if you have the patience to work with it (conditioning your lips, using a brush for extra precision), then it’s worth it. (4.5/5)

Wow Factor:
I don’t know if I’ve said it enough in this post, but I haven’t seen anything like Blue Velvet. The rarity of a bright blue lippie got my attention! This one was nondrying, felt nice going on, and was comfortable to wear without drying my lips out or fading. However, the temperament of this line of lipsticks is very frustrating (your lips have to be FLAWLESS, or else it’s a mess). (4/5)

Overall:
There’s a lot to like about Blue Velvet. It’s comfortable, smooth, non-drying, eye catching and utterly unique. It’s also very affordable and great for niche consumers (like cosplayers, or people looking to do a Kesha tutorial on Youtube). Well-moisturized lips are a must, though, and a lip brush would help this go far. It’s not a bad lipstick, if you’re prepared to make the effort to work with it. (4) B-

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Availability:
-nyxcosmetics.com
-Ulta
-Target

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-There’s 12 shades in the Macaron line.
-Macaron Lippies are cruelty free.

NYX Macaron Lippie in Black Sesame Review + Swatches

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Color: NYX describes this lipstick as simply “light gray” with a “satin matte finish.” I agree on both counts. Black Sesame looked like a light concrete gray to me, and does have that semi-matte texture. When I looked at this line, this grey seemed the most interesting to me, and one of the more wearable of the unusual shades. I certainly don’t own anything like this! (5/5)

Wear: With how great the pigment comes out, I was expecting this to last longer. However, Black Sesame only made it three full hours of wear. By four hours, it began to look sheer. (3.5/5)

Formula: The texture of this lipstick is really nice. It goes on creamy and smooth, and applies easily and evenly. It didn’t tug on the lips or go on patchy. It also had great opacity. However, it has a slick feel that never becomes tacky. This bothered me a lot as it was very unpleasant (although if you hate thick/tacky lipsticks, this would be great formula to try). This also have a nice vanilla scent. (4/5)

Packaging: The packaging felt cheap to me. It’s plastic, and with some of the lipsticks in this line, the tube can rattle a little bit. I also received one that had lipstick smudged on the inside of the clear plastic tube (not cute). It just doesn’t seem like a lot of effort was put into packaging. It’s functional and theyre easy to store, but these seem prone to cracking or other damage if dropped. (2.5/5)

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Price: A single Macaron Lippie is $6 USD for 0.16 oz of product. This is a more generous weight than even MAC lipsticks (which are only .1 oz and almost 3x the cost of one of these). Macaron Lippies are also the cheapest per ounce I’ve ever seen a cosmetic product, coming in at only 3 cents an ounce! But as always, I factor in getting your money’s worth as well as the monetary value. Black Sesame is a beautifully unique shade, and applies and builds well for full opacity. So i certainly think this delivers on quality for the price! (5/5)

Wow Factor: There’s a lot of positive things to be said for Black Sesame. It has great opacity and is easy to apply. It has a creamy  feel going on. A lot of brands come out with shades that look bold in the tube but are very sheer and watered down; this Black Sesame isn’t like that! However, I didn’t like the oily feel this had on my lips, and the wear was a little disappointing. (3.5/5)

Overall: This is definitely a unique, bold shade I can see many women being interested in. The neutral tone and intense pigment makes me believe this would be flattering across all skin tones. The formula nice and the price can’t be beat, either. Just be mindful of the feel the thin formula has on the mouth, it’s not for everyone. (3.1) C-

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Availability:
-nyxcosmetics.com
-Ulta
-Target

Useful Information:
-NYX is cruelty-free.
-This product was purchased by me.
-There are 12 shades in the Macaron line.
-This line of lipsticks can have bold, but fussy, pigment. To ensure even, smooth application and the best wear possible, have your lips buffed (using a toothbrush or scrub) and moisturized pre-wear.

OCC Matte Lip Tar in Black Dahlia Review + Swatches

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Color:
OCC describes Black Dahlia as “blackest blackened red.” It’s not a bad description, although those who are intimidated by the shade in the tube need not fear, it’s much more red and wearable that it appears. It’s definitely a vampy wine shade, perfect for these end of the year months, so those craving a dark lip would love this. It’s the kind of red that makes your teeth look whiter. I’ve lusted after this shade for a long time–I don’t have anything like it in my lippie collection (although my range of vampy lipsticks is admittedly sparse). (4.5/5)

Wear:
Black Dahlia performed well, lasting 7 hours before needing reapplication or removal. While it initially has a glossy sheen, it settles into the promised matte finish at around 3 hours. It also looked slightly less dark, more wine at the 5 hour mark. The formula is stainlike, which helps it last so long and survive through meals. (5/5)

Formula:
I’ve tried Lip Tars both before and after their packaging makeover, and noticed that the mint scent with these newer Lip Tars is less intense (which is nice–the old formula was so strong it made my whole lipstick drawer smell like mint). The product is thin but not too liquidy, and applies pretty evenly on the mouth. Your lips MUST be in perfect condition, though–any dry patches and the product will cling to them like a magnet, making the overall product look slightly uneven (true with all mattes in my experience). One small bead from the tube is plenty to coat the whole mouth, so use the included lip brush and take your time; precision is important with a shade this bold. However, the product never really dries down and transfers kind of easily. However, it didn’t dry out my mouth further. (4/5)

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Packaging:
Lip Tars come in squeeze tubes, with the product dispensed through a very narrow opening in the nozzle. This works well, since a little product goes a long way. The packaging is flexible plastic and houses plenty of product. They store easily, although this is the kind of sensitive product you’d want to store away from heavier items (like foundation bottles) during travel, as Lip Tars could easily get smashed by heavier things during travel. (5/5)

Price: 
Lip Tars are $18 USD each for 0.33 oz. That’s $54.54 per ounce. For reference, MAC lipsticks are $16 for 0.1 oz ($160 per ounce). This is one of those great instances where you pay a little bit more for a lot more product (more than twice the amount) and get a better long-term value (Lip Tars are more than twice less expensive per ounce).

As always, I consider monetary value as well as whether or not I feel a product gives you your money’s worth. Black Dahlia delivers on both counts. This Lip Tar is long wearing and boldly pigmented, which is what you expect from OCC. (5/5)

Wow Factor:
Black Dahlia grabbed my attention in a positive way! It’s such a bold, perfectly vampy dark lip color. It always impresses me when a lipstick can last through a meal and still look great. I also love the name of the shade. It did bother me how this formula never quite dried down and transferred easily, though. (4/5)

Overall:
Black Dahlia is a great lipstick that I definitely recommend! It’s perfect for the colder months, helps teeth look whiter, lasts forever, and makes a bold impression. (4.6) A-

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Availability:
-Sephora
-occmakeup.com

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me
-OCC products are 100% cruelty-free and vegan

Urban Decay Pulp Fiction Palette Review + Swatches

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Urban Decay’s Pulp Fiction Collection was a pretty big deal, as far as I was concerned. I love the movie, and thought the collection was a great way to honor the film’s 20th anniversary. The Pulp Fiction Palette was sort of the gem of the collection, featuring five shadows designed to recreate Mia Wallace’s signature eye look (there’s even a card included giving a brief tutorial).

Color:
The five shades in this palette are Righteous (soft pinkish white matte), Tyranny (warm deep tan matte), Vengeance (warm coffee brown semi-matte), Furious (pitch dark inky black matte) and Anger (stark chalk white matte). Many have lamented that this palette is too basic, and it’s true, you’re not gonna find any groundbreaking shades here. Also, the faint sheen in Vengeance gets lost in the eye, making this a basic, all matte palette. (3.5/5)

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Wear:
This wasn’t the best effort UD has ever put out in terms of wear time. Furious looked faded with primer after 4 hours, and I had fallout from Anger by that time as well. At 6 hours, Furious had migrated some onto the lower lash line. Righteous, Tyranny, and Vengeance gave me no problems for a full 8 hours. (4/5)

Formula:
All five shades apply smoothly, go on opaque, and blend easily, which is great for all-matte textures. However, there were some drawbacks. The sheen on Vengeance gets lost, and has an excessive amount of powder kickup. Furious has the fussiest wear out of all five. Anger disappointed me with fallout. (4/5)

Packaging:
I loved the packaging for this palette. In came in a themed box with the aforementioned tutorial card tucked inside. The palette proper also is decorated to go along with the Pulp Fiction theme, featuring Samuel L. Jackson’s character’s famous quote emblazoned on the front. I also loved that the inside of the box is red. I would’ve liked if the inside of the palette was red too, the black and white camo is a bit tacky. I also don’t like how Furious and Anger are split in half and share a pan. Since these shadows can kick up a bit of powder, those two are easy to cross-contaminate. The palette also holds fingerprints like crazy and the magnetic closure is weak. However, it’s compact enough to store easily and dexterous enough to survive travel (although perhaps not without some dinged corners). (4/5)

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Price:
This palette was originally $34, but has since been reduced to $16 USD. This portions out to about $6.80 per shadow at the full price, which we can all universally agree is by no means costly. The quality is not atrocious, either. If you’re just starting out with makeup or are venturing into neutrals for the first time, this would be a great, cost-effective place to start. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
I did love the Mia Wallace look this palette creates. I also like how there’s enough options to have either a day look or a night look going on. However it’s a really straightforward palette, most people own shadows like this, and they were all essentially one finish. The wear wasn’t perfect with all of them, either. (3.5/5)

Overall:
It’s a nice starter palette, and a good collector’s item for fans of the film. But it’s not a must-have, and I’m sure there’s many ways to get the same look with other, less expensive, better performing shadows. (3.8) C+

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Availability:
Sephora
Ulta
-Now that this is on clearance, it’s only available at urbandecay.com

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-UD is cruelty-free, their parent company, L’Oreal, is not.

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NARS Duo in Kauai Review + Swatches + Dupes

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Color:
NARS describes the colors as “gold lame” and “iridescent smoky orchid.” That description is spot on: the left shade is a rich, warm metallic gold, and the right shade is a cool, shimmery grey-based plum. Neither of these shades is the most unique. Urban Decay Maui Wowie is slightly yellower, but similar to the gold. As for the purple, Urban Decay Gravity is similar. However, the gold is lushly pigmented, with the metallic effect coming through. The purple is semi opaque, but even with primer, it needs to be built up a bit. (3.5/5)

Wear:
When it comes to wear, the gold was excellent, lasting a full 8 hours looking flawless. The purple didn’t do as well: it only made it 5 hours before it looked faded (even with primer). (4/5)

Formula:
The gold applies soft, smooth and opaque, even without primer, and has great textural intensity (the foiled effect, naturally, looks enhanced over a base). However, it was a pain with fallout, the kind of shadow where you’d want to apply your face makeup afterwards to avoid looking glittery on the cheeks. The purple also went on smoothly and blended easily, and didn’t suffer from fallout. But, the pigment wasn’t as intense as I’d have liked, and needed to be built up. (3.5/5)

Packaging:
The duo comes in traditional NARS rubberized packaging with a great full-size mirror included. The rubber texture is great for absorbing impact from a fall or during travel. Also, the compact is sleek and thin, and stays secure when shut, making it easy to store. It also has that nice feel you expect from more expensive products. The two pans of shadow have a nice distance between them, and they don’t kick up much product to begin with, so there isn’t much worry of powder crossover. However, this kind of rubber packaging is prone to showing fingerprints. (4.5/5)

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Price:
A NARS duo is $35 USD, and contains 0.14 oz of product. That’s $250 an ounce. (Comparatively, one MAC shadow is $15 for 0.05 oz, which is $300 per ounce.) This is another great example of spending a little more to get more (in this case, 2 shades instead of one, with 0.9 oz more product), and having it add up to less money in the long run.

In terms of quality, it’s not the best, but it doesn’t do so poorly that I’d say it isn’t worth the money. The gold is fabulous and the fallout can be contained. The purple could’ve been improved a bit more. But the shades work so well together and look fabulous enough that I’d say $35 isn’t an outrageous cost, especially if you don’t already have something similar. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
If it isn’t clear by now, the gold definitely grabbed my attention in a positive way. The metallic, high shine finish is lovely and sets it apart from the other golds I own. The purple has been done before, but I like the rich smokiness and how it pairs well with the brighter gold. Yellow and purple are complimentary colors, so it’s not the most unique combination, but I like the way Kauai turned out. (3.5/5)

Overall:
Kauai is a rich, plush looking duo that draws the eye. It looks lovely in the pan and on the lid. However, there were some technical issues (fallout and lack of vibrancy) that disappointed me. My makeup collection is not super large, but still I was able to find dupes for both shades. If you like the shades and don’t mind working with their respective difficulties, go for it. However, there are cheaper options available if you like the effect and not the price tag. (3.8) C+

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Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-NARS is cruelty free, but their parent company, Shiseido, is not.

Availability:
-narscosmetics.com
-Sephora
-Nordstrom
-ASOS
-Barney’s
-Macy

Tutorial: Stormy Skies with Shiro Cosmetics

Hello again beauties! I’ve always wanted to do tutorials on this blog. Now that I finally have a proper camera, I didn’t see a reason to delay! I just ordered the Hobbit Collection from Shiro Cosmetics, a brand famous for it’s fun, geeky collections. I’m already a fan of the brand, so I thought I’d start things off with a tutorial using products from their (now defunct) Notebook Collection (which you can read reviews for here).

Here’s the look I created:

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I used my favorite purple, Shinigamiand a gorgeous silvery grey, Heaven Nor Hell on the eyes. I played up the purple with a coordinating liner, and completed the eyes with dark, long lashes. I kept the rest of the face natural and simple, to keep the emphasis on the gorgeous purple color.

Here’s what you need:

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-Your face essentials (foundation, concealer, powder, blush, etc)
-1 shimmery purple and 1 greyish blue loose shadow
-purple eyeliner
-lengthening black mascara
-clear gloss or balm
-a short, fluffy brush (like MAC’s 213. I used ELF Professional Shadow Brush)
-a fluffy blending brush (like MACs 224. I used one from Sonia Kashuk)
-water (or mixing medium, or MAC Fix+)

Lets begin the tutorial!

1) First, apply your face essentials as usual (I used Smashbox Foundation Primer, Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation, Maybelline Mineral Power Concealer, and NYC Smooth Skin pressed powder). If you want, you can wait to do this step after you’ve applied your shadow, especially if your loose eyeshadows are prone to fallout.

2) The great thing about loose eyeshadow is you don’t need a base for them to be pigment-rich. Instead, you just use them wet. Pour a little bit of product into the shadow’s cap, or onto another smooth surface you don’t mind getting a little messy. A little goes a long way!

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3) Wet your brush (have a paper towel handy to soak up excess water if you’re dipping it right into the water), and swirl the short fluffy brush into the purple pigment. Apply over the whole lid. Using a dry fluffy blending brush, blend any harsh edges.

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4) Spot clean your short fluffy brush (or grab another), re-wet the brush, then swirl it into the grey shadow. Apply to the crease, and blend. You may need to reapply more purple shadow at this point, and blend them together. Dust away any fallout using a large, fluffy face brush.

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5) Using purple liner (mine is Urban Decay Ransom), line your waterline. Then, connect the purple liner to the outer corner of your purple shadow, and bring the liner down the lower lash line, about halfway. You can use a short, stiff brush or liner brush to smudge the line, if you like.

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6) Curl your lashes, and apply mascara. I used Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara. 

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And you’re finished with the eyes! Here is a photo of the finished eye look. Apply your face essentials now if you haven’t already.

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7) Apply soft, peachy-pink blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend towards the temples. I used MAC Pinch O’ Peach. Finish off the look with clear gloss or a shiny lip balm. I used my favorite balm, Maybelline Baby Lips. 

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And you’re done! I love how easy this kind of look is to put together, but with the right, vivid shades, it looks very intense and dramatic. Loose eyeshadows always seem to boast great pigmentation, and when used wet, blend together and apply so seamlessly. Here’s the finished look.

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Do you love loose shadows, beauties? Have you ever tried any from Shiro? Any other indie brands/loose shadows I should check out? Let me know!

BareMinerals READY 4.0 Eyeshadow Quad in The A-List Review + Swatches

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I had been eyeing these beautiful shadows from BareMinerals for so long. I had heard amazing things about the formula and pigmentation, and the color combinations were lovely as well. For my first foray into this line of eyeshadow (and with BareMinerals products as well), I settled on The A-List, a girly quad.

Color:
The four shades included in this quad are Icebreaker (“Pink Pearl”, top left), Fashionably Late (“Pink Sugar”, top right), Swanky (“Dazzling Plum”, bottom left), and Black Tie Optional (“Black Velvet”, bottom right). It’s a mostly girly palette with the darker colors adding versatility and depth to the super feminine pinks.
-Icebreaker is a light, frosty cool pink champagne with silver shimmer. It’s a great highlight shade, soft and shiny but not too stark for the brow. The sparkles kind of got everywhere, though. (4/5)
-Fashionably Late is a cool, baby pink satin. This one had great pigmentation, even without primer. Not the most unique shade under the sun, though. (4.5/5)
-Swanky is a dark matte plum base with golden sparkles. It goes on opaque, even without primer, but the golden shimmer doesn’t translate onto the eyelid. (4/5)
-Black Tie Optional is a matte, medium dark black. It has such rich, opaque pigmentation, great quality for a matte. (4.5/5)
The palette has a great mix of finishes that work well together and can be combined to give a variety of looks, ranging from soft and feminine to more edgy and evening. (4.25)

Wear:
The only shade that gave me any trouble was Swanky. It started wearing down at a mere two hours, and looked markedly faded at 6 hours. The three other shades looked fresh by the end of the 8-hour testing period. (4.25)

Formula:
All four shades yielded great pigmentation that was opaque on the lid. They were also easy to apply and gave me no issues with dryness or blending. They didn’t feel as soft to the touch as I had imagined (Swanky was the worst offender, feeling a bit gritty), but this is inconsequential, since it doesn’t impact application. The sparkles in Icebreaker were a bit messy, but remained contained to the eye area, so it wasn’t too much of a mess. No other shades had any fallout problems. (4/5)

Packaging:
BareMinerals delivered with more luxe packaging that one tends to expect from brands in this price range. The compact is sleek and rubberized, absorbing impact from falls and making it more resilient during travel, but holds fingerprints like none other! It feels nice and not cheap in the hands. Also, the mirror inside is full-sized, making it functional to take along with you. I do feel like there is a bit too much plastic, and that the size could’ve been minimized a bit in proportion to the shadows inside, but it’s not too large or tricky to store. I don’t know if it was just my quad, but the clasp was fussy on mine as well–it stays firmly shut, to the point where I accidentally dropped it trying to get it open! (Thank goodness for that rubber packaging!) So that is an area for improvement. (4/5)

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The rubber packaging can be a bit hard to keep clean!

Price:
One of these quads is $30 USD, for 0.17 total ounces of product. That’s $176.47 per ounce. For context, 1 MAC eyeshadow is 0.05 oz and sells for $16, a total of $320 per ounce. Each pan of product in this quad is a little more than 0.4 oz, which a little bit of a drawback. But 4 MAC shadows would cost you $64, $34 more than what you get here for only 0.3 more oz of product. In that regard, I would say this palette is a steal. (You could get two of these for cheaper than 4 MAC eyeshadows, and end up with more product weight!)

In terms of quality for the price, BareMinerals didn’t skimp. Each of these shadows is stellar. While Icebreaker is a bit less than neat, it’s a unique highlight shade with fab texture and looks gorgeous on. While pink and black may seem like boring shades, both were rich, easy to apply, and long-lasting. And while the plum didn’t impress on wear time, it still looked gorgeous added depth and interest to a palette that could’ve otherwise been one-note. (5/5)

Wow Factor:
I had high hopes for this quad, and it rose to the occasion! Icebreaker definitely impressed as an unusual but well-performing highlight. Fashionably Late looked sweet and feminine without straying into childish or eye infection territory. Swanky could’ve done better, but works well with the others. And Black Tie Optional is a perfect, rich black matte. The formula of BTO is what pushes it over the edge–black mattes are common, and too often are they patchy or dull. This was neither. (4.5/5)

Overall:
At a first glance, it’s not the most unique quad under the sun: just about everyone owns a matte black, pinks can be tricky and highlight shades can be dull. The A-List turned those notions on it’s ear. Each shade impressed me in one way or another! The quality is top of the line, and I think the pigmentation and mix of textures and shades creates awesome versatility. That’s what hooked me the most with this quad: you can create a soft, girly eye or a more dramatic edgy eye, or mix the two for something elegant, or pop-punk–the looks are quite endless, more so than they initially appear! (4.3) B+

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Availability:
-Sephora
-Ulta
-bareescentuals.com
-QVC
-ASOS

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-BareMinerals is cruelty free, but their parent company, Shiseido, is not.
-The A-List MAY be in the process of being discontinued :/
-Ready quads are made without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOS, or Triclosan.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Review + Photos

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I had been curious about a foundation primer. Who doesn’t love the idea of smooth, doll-like skin? So when I received a sample of the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer in my September Sephora Haul, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had heard good things about this product in particular, and wanted to see what the hype was about.

Effectiveness:
This promises to “fill in fine lines and pores for a flawless finish.” It wasn’t quite so flawless: I have some noticeable pores on the tip of my nose, and they were still visible. With foundation over top, my pores were minimized somewhat, but not totally erased. This primer also claims to “smooth and perfect,” which it did a better job at than at pore erasure. With this alone, my skin looked and felt smoother and softer, and looked a bit more smooth with foundation. (4/5)

Wear:
I’m pleased to say this primer kept my foundation in tip-top condition for a full 8-hours. It even kept the foundation around my undereye area looking better for longer than when wearing just foundation alone. (5/5)

Formula:
This primer is a clear, thin gel. It goes on so smooth and lightweight, you can’t even feel it, although it does leave this gross oily feeling on the fingertips (despite the claim that it’s oil free). This did make my extremely sensitive skin a little red at first, but it went away within a minute, and didn’t sting or burn. It had the smoothing, and, to a lesser extent, the pore minimizing effects it promised, and also made my foundation last longer and feel less heavy. (4/5)

Packaging:
My version of this primer is a mini sample, so I can’t say 100% what the full-size packaging is like (although I reckon they’re pretty similar). Mine is a squeeze tube with a screw-on black plastic cap. It works well enough, and there’s plenty of product, even in a tube this size. A quick squeeze from the tube provides a drop large enough to cover the whole face, so a little goes a long way. I would like to see the the opening be more of a nozzle (like on OCC Lip Tars), with the smaller opening allowing more control over how much product gets dispensed. (4.5/5)

Price:
I received this mini sample as a 100-point perk with a Sephora order, but there are two full sizes available, a 0.50 oz travel size that’s $15 USD, and a larger, 1 oz tube that costs $36 USD. This is clearly a bit steep in price, but the product given is very generous. And this is one of the cheapest product-per-ounce ratios I’ve seen so far (the price tag is often $10 lower than equally-sized foundations, and just to give you an idea of how much 1 oz of product is, you would have to buy 20 MAC eyeshadows to get the same amount of product, and it’ll cost you $300!)

However, I don’t know if the quality warrants such a price tag. The oily feel is just something I can’t get over, and didn’t expect from a higher-end brand like Smashbox. And while it performed well, I have a hunch that this isn’t the best primer on the market. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
I was happy with this primer, but it didn’t leave a major impact. It worked well and got the job done, but it also had some drawbacks, like the feel and initial irritation to my skin. (3/5)

Overall:
I like this primer, and I’ll use it until I finish it. However, once it’s done, I want to expand and try other brands’ primers, to see and compare what they’re like. If this is in your price range, it could be worth trying. I reckon it’ll work well for picture taking, so those who spend a lot of time in front of the camera (models, Youtubers, social butterflies) would appreciate its soft blurring effect. But those who want a flawless, doll-like finish in person might want to look elsewhere. (4.1) B-

Availability:
-smashbox.com
-Sephora
-Ulta
-Nordstrom
-Boots

Useful Information:
-I got this product as a 100-point VIB perk from Sephora.
-Smashbox is cruelty free and not sold in China, but it’s parent company, Estee Lauder, is not cruelty free.

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