Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kat Von D Lipstick in Homegirl


Sorry for the hiatus; I've just moved and started the new semester, and things are in flux for me, but I should be back with more regular posts in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'll try to do what I can, with all of my things in boxes and no great place set up yet for pictures. Thankfully, I photographed Homegirl for you all before I moved, so that you could get a fuller idea of the spectrum of quality within Kat Von D's lipstick line. I've already reviewed Hellbent and Lolita; as I've mentioned in those posts, the formula seemed inconsistent, getting worse as the shades got darker. I had no problems with Lolita, even if it isn't my favorite lipstick formula, and Hellbent was a little tricky to work with, but worth the trouble if you absolutely love the lipstick. Homegirl is another story altogether. Dark, cool-based purples like this can be hard to come by, so I can't blame you for being intrigued if this is the type of lipstick color you've been keeping your eyes peeled for. However, I really can't see the application issues being worth the trouble.

When I first got this lipstick, I thought I'd be able to make it work by blotting it and wearing it sheer. Now that I've tried to wear it like this, I realize it doesn't really work. I still think this is a more flattering color on me than wearing the lipstick opaque (or as close to as I can get it), and the issues with application aren't as apparent, but the wear time is still just awful, and because of the weird texture of the lipstick, it's incredibly hard to get it to blot evenly and to keep tissue from sticking to your lips, so I wouldn't recommend buying this color with that intention; you'd do better to get a lip stain like Urban Decay's. Now, I found this lipstick to be incredibly streaky and a touch grainy(!?). I don't know if this will be the case for everyone, since from what I've seen of reviews at Sephora's website, people seem to love this lipstick, but I could not get it to apply evenly; I found this to be a thin formula bordering on oily or greasy, and somewhat drying. It also emphasized all of my lip lines, settling into creases and looking significantly darker in those places. The product will run  you $18 for .11 ounces, and is only available at Sephora, the sole retailer for Kat Von D's line, which is incidentally manufactured by Sephora. However, I'm not sure if this is the same lipstick formulation as the Sephora brand lipsticks- it seems to at least have been tweaked a little. Like most everything in Kat Von D's makeup line, the case is incredibly cute, and the lipstick shade is unexpected, but that's where my praise ends for this particular color.

Here are some photographs showing the case and the product:

And here is the product swatched on my arm; you can already see that "pilled" texture I mentioned earlier, the graininess, as well as a bit of streaking around the edges rather than a nice clean, creamy finish.

And here it is on my lips without flash: notice the irregular line, which could possibly be cleaned up with a lip pencil. Also notice that you can see lip without lipstick in the center of my mouth; I tried to apply color there, but could not get it to stay. If I ever wanted to wear this color out, that would just be something I'd have to put up with.

Homegirl, no flash

Homegirl on my lips, no flash

And here it is with flash. You can see all of the terrible application flaws so much more clearly in this shot. Please, if you're contemplating buying this without having tried it on, blow this picture up to its full size by clicking on it, and be warned! This was as opaque as I could get it; it's not just settled into lines because I tried to apply it too lightly and failed. It's streaky, and you can see lines from where my lips meet and press together.

Homegirl, flash

Wearing Homegirl on my lips, flash
Rating: 2 out of 10

Please, please don't buy this. Aside from the application issues (of which there are many), this feels greasy on the lips. I did not notice any odor or taste, but that doesn't much matter if the formula is awful. Wear time is also the pits; I got maybe half an hour of this looking "normal" (see above) until it deteriorated even further. While I don't think this is a universal issue with these lipsticks, I would be wary of this one in general, and would definitely test these colors before buying if you get the chance to. If I hadn't bought this in a set, I would have returned this lipstick. As it stands, I'm not quite ready to throw it out since I like the idea of having a nice dark color like this, and I may be able to use it by mixing it with a gloss or another lipstick, but I would never ever consider buying it again, or recommending it to a friend who was looking for something in this color. I think there are some cosmetic formulas that are tricky to work with, but whose effect is worth the extra time, effort, or preparatory steps, and there are some formulas that just downright do not work. This is the latter.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maybelline Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Cherry Bloom


I reviewed Maybelline Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in in Berry Dazzle here a few days ago, and I'm back with my review of the second color I picked up, Cherry Bloom. Maybelline came out with these glosses a few years back, and they come in a variety of interesting colors and textures, each with a different scent and taste that is supposedly supposed to match the fruit the shade is named after. I say "supposed to", since in my experience with these two, they just smell and taste like different generic saccharine sweet flavors. I like Cherry Bloom a lot better than Berry Dazzle. Like Berry Dazzle, Cherry Bloom retails at $5.99 for .38 ounces, and comes in a squeeze tube applicator with an angled tip, meant to be applied directly from the tube to the lip. This isn't my favorite kind of applicator; I prefer liquid lip products in a tube with a wand. However, my biggest complaint with this product is the taste and the scent; both are cloyingly sweet, although Cherry Bloom seems to be more generically sweet than Berry Dazzle's fruity sweet scent, and it also isn't as synthetic-smelling. It's still not great, but I find myself getting used to this one a lot faster than Berry Dazzle; I only notice it if I accidentally lick my lips. However, this is personal preference, and if you know you are sensitive to taste and scent in your makeup products, I would pass on the Shine Sensational glosses.

Cherry Bloom is a pale iridescent pink color; you really have to layer this one on to see the full iridescence, but even a thin coat gives nice shine with a bit of flash to it. I think it's a nice way to do a pale lip that isn't frosty or milky. It's not sticky; it's less tacky than Berry Dazzle, and the textures is much nicer since it doesn't have the gritty glitter in it that Berry Dazzle did.

So, here are some pictures of the product; you can get an idea of what the color is through the tube, even though it looks relatively sheer (but shimmery) on the lips.

Cherry Bloom

Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Cherry Bloom

Notice the built-in molded applicator tip
 And here's a swatch. It's a peachy pink with high shimmer and shine.

Swatch of Cherry Bloom

And here's a shot of Cherry Bloom on my lips, no flash! It's pretty sheer, but it definitely looks different than my lips alone.

Cherry Bloom, no flash
 And here's a photo of my entire face without flash:

Wearing Cherry Bloom on my lips, no flash

And again, my mouth with flash. You can begin to see some of the shimmer and glow with the light hitting the gloss, here, although it was hard to catch all of that in pictures.

Cherry Bloom, flash

And here's a shot of my face with the gloss.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Cherry Bloom definitely beat Berry Dazzle's rating of 4/10. This is for sure not my go-to lip gloss, and I doubt any shade would ever be because of the packaging and taste/scent issues, but Cherry Bloom has a pleasant-enough texture, and it's a nice pale gloss that doesn't change my natural color too much, but adds some shimmer and shine. If you're looking to try this line out, this gloss might be a good place to start, since it's pretty but doesn't have much color. At any rate, I wouldn't recommend the glittery shades based on my experience with Berry Dazzle; the iridescent colors may be more in line with Cherry Bloom's more pleasant texture. However, if you think that the taste and scent issues would be too much for you, or that the applicator style might bother you, I'd pass on these.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kat Von D Lipstick in Hellbent

Hey Guys! 

I have another review of Kat Von D's lipstick in Hellbent. I reviewed Lolita here. I bought a set of three of these lipsticks awhile back from Sephora, and wasn't crazy about them right off the bat so I kind of disregarded them for awhile before rediscovering them, and deciding to give them a second chance a little more attention. I can't say I've fallen in love with these lipsticks, but I do think they may be worth a little more attention; I noticed this time that all three shades have very different formulas, warranting individual reviews. Lolita was by far the easiest formula to wear and work with; Hellbent is slightly trickier, but not terrible. I've saved my most scathing review for Homegirl, which is really difficult to apply and to wear; look for that review coming in the next few days. 

Hellbent is a blue-toned red, with a hint of fuchsia lingering underneath the bright red base. I generally don't choose reds that border on hot pink for myself, but this still reads as red. It retails for $18 for .11 ounces, and is available exclusively through Sephora. In fact, it's made by Sephora, but I'm not sure if they've changed the formula at all for this product. This formula feels thinner and glossier when compared to Lolita, and the wear time suffers for it; I'd say I'd only feel safe wearing this for an hour and a half or two hours without checking in a mirror to touch up. The other downside about this less-opaque formula is its tendency to settle into lip lines and emphasize them.  However, as I said before when reviewing Lolita, I really like the case; it's matte black with silver roses stenciled on, and clear lucite on the bottom of the tube showing the color of the lipstick inside. 

Here are some pictures of the case. 

Hellbent, by Kat Von D

Hellbent, by Kat Von D

Kat Von D Lipstick in Hellbent
 And here's a swatch on my arm. You can really see those bright pink undertones here; I bet they'd be more noticeable on someone with cooler undertones.

Swatch of Hellbent
 And here's the color on my lips without flash. Even with my lips stretched taut while smiling, you can see where the lipstick has settled into the lip lines.

Hellbent, no flash
 And a shot of my entire face without flash:

Wearing Kat Von D's Hellbent, no flash

 And here are shots of the color with flash. Notice that you can still see the product settled into the lip lines... Hmm. Maybe I'm just extra sensitive to it here because it was so much worse with Kat Von D's darker shade, Homegirl.

Hellbent, flash!

And a shot of my entire face...
Wearing Hellbent on my lips
Rating: 5 out of 10

I really can't give this any more than a 5/10. It's not a terrible lipstick, but I think that the color isn't unique enough to warrant putting up with a temperamental formula. Sure, the packaging is cute, and there's no noticeable scent or taste, but it's a pain to keep it on the lip line without liner, it's a little on the drying side, and it emphasizes lip lines. However, if you love the color- it *is* a less in-your-face version of a cherry red- it might be worth checking out to see if you agree with my assessment of the formula. However, if you're like me and don't like to bother with temperamental lip products, I think you'd do better to try another brand. I'd highly recommend checking out NARS' reds; they have a lot of flattering options, and their lipstick formula is great. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Maybelline Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Berry Dazzle

Hi All!

I'm showing you Maybelline's Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Berry Dazzle today. They came out with these glosses a few years back, and I've picked up two colors (I'll review the other separately) since their release. Each one has a different flavor (yes- taste and scent) in addition to different colors. I think I originally grabbed these because they seemed to have more unique finishes than a lot of drugstore lip glosses, with shimmery, glittery, and iridescent finishes, and at $5.99 a pop (for .38 ounces), it won't break the bank to try one of these glosses, which Maybelline touts as being moisturizing with high shine, a comfortable feel, and no stickiness. Does it live up to the hype? Well... Sort of. I'll let you know right off the bat; I like my other Shine Sensational gloss in Cherry Bloom a lot more than this one.

Why doesn't Berry Dazzle make the same grade as Cherry Bloom? My first reason is the texture. Both feel heavier on the lips than some other "nicer" glosses, and because they're not particularly pigmented, if you need more color (in the case of Berry Dazzle, *any* color), you've got to really load it on. Even though this looks pigmented in the tube, it ends up being very close to my natural lip color, so it just adds shine and glitter to my lips. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for something that would get them just a shade or two darker. Berry Dazzle is a plummy color in the tube with loads of fuschia and lavender microglitter. Sounds great, but the microglitter feels gritty on the lips. And while the gloss isn't sticky, it's definitely got a little bit of a tacky feel to it; not enough to bother me, personally, but if you know you're extra sensitive to this, you may want to try a different gloss. The scent is obnoxious, too; it's a very strong saccharine "berry" scent, with a cloyingly sweet flavor. Sure, after I've had it on for twenty minutes or half an hour I forget about it, but it's more noticeable than with most other lip products I've used or reviewed here, and as soon as you uncap these babies, you are assaulted with this sugary-synthetic scent.

My other major gripe with this product is the packaging. I hate squeezy tubes with angled applicators; I like tubes with wands for my gloss. I find these messy and inaccurate, and I hate when the gloss drips into the threads of the screw-on top. However, if this is your preferred packaging, more power to you, and you may be fonder of this product than I am.

Here's a picture of the tube; each one has a different fruit picture to match the flavor.

Berry Dazzle Shine Sensational Lip Gloss

And here you can see the slanted tip squeeze applicator, built right into the tube. Not my favorite, but some people may like this kind of packaging.

Maybelline Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Berry Dazzle
 And here's a swatch. Notice how the gloss ends up looking just about clear when it's spread as thin as you would wear it on your lips. Does not bode well...

Berry Dazzle on my lips, no flash:

Wearing Berry Dazzle, no flash

And a full photo of my face without flash:

Berry Dazzle by Maybelline on my lips

And here's a set with flash; you can really see the glitter in these. I don't know how I feel about the way this looks in the bright light, though I doubt that anyone would get close enough in direct light to see the chunks of glitter. It also becomes fairly obvious that while this gloss doesn't detract from my lips' natural color, it doesn't really add to it, either. This might not be the case for someone with paler lips, or lips of a different tone, though.

Berry Dazzle, flash! 

Berry Dazzle on my lips, flash. 
Rating: 4/10

While I don't absolutely hate this particular gloss, I wouldn't recommend it, either. It's not a great applicator, the texture is off because of the glitter, and the flavor and scent are a bit too cloying and distracting for my taste. This being said, I realize that these concerns may not be as big a deal to other people as they are to me. For instance, my 6th grade self probably would have considered the glitter and the flavor a plus, and wouldn't have thought to question the applicator. This being said, based on my personal experience, I wouldn't recommend this particular shade of this product, even though my experience with Cherry Bloom was a lot better, so I wouldn't be as quick to completely write off the whole Shine Sensational Lip Gloss line; I'd just avoid the glitter ones and not expect too much pigmentation, if you don't think the flavors and the tube applicator would bother you. I'm not going to toss it just yet, but it's definitely not something I would repurchase, and it's made me more cautious about Maybelline in general, based on my mixed experience with this.

Kat Von D Lipstick in Lolita

Hi Dolls!

I picked up a set of three Kat Von D Lipsticks awhile ago from Sephora, tried them, wrote them off, and haven't touched them in a loooong time. I finally rediscovered them and decided to give them a little more time than I did when I first got them. My first observation? That they're all three different enough to warrant three individual reviews. This formula doesn't seem to be particularly consistent, depending on the color. I decided to start with the easiest to wear and the one with the nicest application- Lolita. Now, I may be biased because I absolutely love Nabokov's novel of the same name, but I'm not sure this is the color that his book's title character brings to mind... It's a dark dusty rose, a couple of shades darker than a neutral, but in the same vein as a nude.

As for the formula, it's creamy- not exactly moisturizing, but not drying- and it applies opaque and even in one coat.  It has a neutral makeup scent, and no discernible taste. It retails for $18 for .11 ounces, and is available exclusively through Sephora. In fact, it's made by Sephora, but I'm not sure if they've changed the formula at all for this product. It has about average wear time- maybe a little less than my average 3 or 4 hours- but personally, I end up either wiping my lipstick off or reapplying after a couple of hours anyway, since I'm paranoid about my lipstick looking "worn." It's a nice satin formula with a hint of shine, but no glitter, shimmer, or frost. All things considered, this isn't my favorite lipstick formula, but the color is pretty, the tube is incredibly cute, and it's competitively priced when compared to comparable lipsticks in the same price bracket.

I probably took way more pictures of the case than I needed to. I'm sorry, I think it's really cool looking! Yeah, Kat Von D may not be everybody's cup of tea, but this is a pretty unique line, both in colors and packaging.

Lolita, by Kat Von D

Here's the bottom of the tube; you can see where it shows that this is a Sephora brand, and also the shade name.

The Bottom of the Tube

And here's the top of the cap; it has the brand initials in a kind of Black Letter script, stenciled on the matte black in silver.

Top of the Cap

And here's the tube twisted all the way up.

The tube, with flash 

Here's a swatch of Lolita on the arm; you can see that it has a nice satin finish, and pulls more orangey-brown on the arm than it looks on my lips. Probably because my lips are naturally fairly pink, so it changes the color a little.

Lolita, swatched on my arm.

Aaaand here's Lolita on my lips, without flash:

Kat Von D Llipstick in Lolita, no flash

And here's Lolita on my lips, with the flash. Why do my lips look so BIG?

Kat Von D Lipstick in Lolita, flash! 

And here's Lolita on my lips without flash.

Wearing Lolita on my lips, no flash. 

Here's another picture of Lolita on my lips with flash.

Lolita by Kat Von D on my lips 
Rating: 7 out of 10 

This is a lovely darker take on a nude lip, the formula is solid, and the packaging is cute. While the formula may not be heads and shoulders above other lipsticks that are less expensive, it doesn't have the cloying flavor or scent that many drugstore lipsticks have, and the color is unique but still flattering; not an easy feat when we're talking about something as classic as a basic satin formula!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Downtown by NARS

Hi All!

I'm bringing you a review and swatches of Downtown, a lipgloss released with NARS' Winter collection, but it looks like it's being added to the permanent collection. Boy, am I glad, too! I love NARS lip glosses, and this one is unusual, and a real stunner. It's a medium metallic lavender with a pink shimmery flash, and although it goes on pretty opaque, it can be worn sheer, as well, and looks AWESOME on top of lipsticks.

NARS lipsticks in general are highly pigmented, so even the sheer colors leave a tint of color, and aren't sticky or heavy; it doesn't feel like you have a thick layer on top of your lips. Downtown is a little different, maybe because of the opaque metallic formula. It's goopier- not exactly sticky- but definitely thicker. It lasts on my lips a couple of hours before I feel the need to touch it up or reapply, which is longer than most lip glosses on me. They'll run you $24 for .28 oz, which is a little more product than average. NARS is one of my favorite makeup companies; their products are high quality, and the colors range from unique to classic, but are usually updated twists on classics, which I think are my favorite sorts of colors to wear. I really think it's a brand that doesn't get enough credit- not counting cult-favorite Orgasm- because there are a lot of hidden treasures. At any rate, Downtown is a really neat product.

So, let's start with the packaging. It's a chic frosted plastic, rectangular tube with a matte black cap. It doesn't hold fingerprints, but gets a little grubby after awhile. I also like that it's not too bulky or heavy, even though it has a lot more product than some bigger, bulkier glosses (Urban Decay Pocket Rockets and the Buxom glosses, for instance!). It has a basic doe-foot applicator, which is my favorite for applying lipgloss; I think it's more sanitary than a pot, easier than a squeezy tube, and simpler than a brush.

NARS lipgloss in Downtown

NARS gloss in Downtown

And here's the swatch! I showed you the bright one so you could see the crazy shimmer. It gets bigger if you click it, and then you can see some more detail!  In both swatches, I have a thicker, more opaque swatch on the left, and a sheer version on the right.

NARS gloss in Downtown, flash

NARS gloss in Downtown, no flash

 And here it is on my lips without flash. For reference, I applied it medium-thick in all of these pictures; you could wear it sheerer, or completely opaque if you choose. Personally, I think the color is less flattering opaque on me, so I like wearing it a little bit more sheer.

Downtown, no flash

And a full-face shot without flash.

Downtown, no flash
 And again, with flash! Look at that shimmer!

Downtown, flash
 And on my face with flash!

Downtown, flash!
Rating: 8 out of 10

I really like this color! It's eye-catching without resorting to "dark" or "bright" or "glittery." Aside from the color, the formula is really nice, too. Yes, it's a little goopier than most NARS glosses, but it's still nice and smooth without feeling sticky or oily, and it's light enough on the lips that it doesn't feel uncomfortable. There's no scent or taste, and the wear time is better than average, at least on me. It doesn't look streaky or patchy, and it stays on pretty evenly, too. If you like glosses but want something with more color than your average sheer shimmery pink lip gloss, check this out! And if you like layering gloss over lipstick, this is an awesome tool for your arsenal.

Thanks Dolls! It's been a pleasure, as always.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Illamasqua Liquid Metal Look and Review

Hi All!

I'm showing you a whole face look now, and incorporating a review of Illamasqua's Liquid Metal in Surge. It's a gorgeous color and a fascinating product, but it's a little tricky to work with.

Illamasqua Liquid Metal in Surge: 6 out of 10 

So, first off, I'll give you a review of Liquid Metal by Illamasqua in Surge. Surge is a highly metallic Pewter; you can apply it with your finger to get a sheer wash of color, or you can pat it on with a brush to get an opaque foiled look with a high metallic sheen. I don't think that this metallic look really shows up in the photos, but take my word for it, it's stunning. However, it's really hard to work with; it creases if you even look at it wrong. Don't even think about wearing it unless you have a good eyeshadow base (my favorite is NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base), and plan on setting it with powder. When worn like this, on my normal lids (not dry or oily!), I get very minimal creasing in the crease of my eyelid. Because of this, it's not a good look for a 16 hour day. However, it's stunning for a night out or a special occasion! I love this product, but because it's so tricky, I can only give it a 6/10. If you're willing to put up with this high-maintenance  product, though, the payoff is sooo worth it.  It retails for $26 for .05 oz, and it's available through Sephora.

So, instead of just showing you swatches of Surge, I incorporated it into a look. I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of the steps, but I really did just put on makeup in order to take pictures of Surge, and then decided I'd go ahead and tell you all everything else I did in case you wanted an idea of how to wear a product as nuts as Surge.

First: Pictures!

Here are some closeups of my eyes with flash:

And here are some without flash:

And here's a picture of my entire face without flash:

You can almost see how crazy-metallic Surge is on my bottom lash, here; it shines like that all over in real life! 

And another with flash!

So, here's what I did.


Remember that Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Your Skin Makeup I picked up on clearance from CVS in Ecru Beige? I put that all over my face on top of moisturizer (I used NARS Monoi Body Glow II), then used Kat Von D's Tattoo Concealer under my eyes and on my nose (I get lots of redness there!). I then set everything with Physician's Formula Pearls of Perfection in Translucent, and since Ecru Beige isn't warm enough for my skin tone, I used Guerlain Meteorites on top to brighten everything up. After that, I put a very small amount of  High Beam by Benefit under my brown bone, across my temples, and on the tops of my cheek bones- sort of in a C shape, stopping just short of the apple of my cheek. Then I used NARS blush in Sin on the underside of my cheekbone to contour the shape, blending up into the temple.


I always put foundation on my eyelids when I put it on the rest of my face, just to even out the eyelid area a little bit. After that, I used NARS Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base all over the eyelid area; a little goes a long way! I used my finger to apply Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Sellout all over the lid, from lash line to brow bone, and then I patted Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Eye Color in Queen Tiffany onto just my lid, stopping just at the crease. I then used a small eyeshadow brush to pat Illamasqua's Surge on the lid, focusing on the inner and outer corner, and blending up to the middle of the crease, letting Queen Tiffany show through just a little bit in the center of the lid. I also put Surge on the lower lash line. I then patted Queen Tiffany lightly on the center of the lid again, and then put a little bit high in the crease on the outer third of my eye. After that, I used Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Sin to blend Surge into Sellout, and make the line between the two colors less stark. Finally, I used MAC's Kohl Liner in Feline on the top lash line, and the outer third of the lower lash line on my waterline. I just lightly pushed it into the lashes, since it's such a dark and pigmented liner, and has a tendency to smudge on me. Because of this, I went back over it with a bent eyeliner brush to smudge it out a little, and used the extra that was on the brush to lightly wing up to suggest a "cat eye" shape. A coat of Buxom mascara in black, and a coat of DiorShow Black Out mascara, and I was done.

If I'd remembered, I probably would have filled in my brows...


Didn't do much to my lips! Just a quick swipe of Urban Decay's Pocket Rocket in Jesse (which is no longer available on the Sephora website, but is still on the Urban Decay website!).

Hopefully this has inspired you to go get fussied up, and if you're curious about Surge, try it out! It's stunning and wearable, if you're willing to put in some extra effort to get it to look nice!

Sorry I haven't posted more detailed "how-to" pictures, promise I'll get better at doing this! ;)