Keys to my Karma is my HG red nail polish. I can't imagine life without it. I have pale, pale white skin with cool undertones and this makes my skin glow. It's the cheery, bright blue-red jelly of a jar of maraschino cherries. It's so squishy and applies so well. The squishiness and glowy pink undertone make it more modern than an opaque blue-red creme would be. In my top 5 polishes. I've purged all other reds save Vodka & Caviar and Malaga Wine, both far more serious than Keys is.
Eye Shadow -Prestige - Total Intensity Long Term Relationship- Hocus Pocus
thecharm 3/2/2013 10:45:00 AM
Prestige Total Intensity Long-Term Relationship Eyeshadow in Hocus Pocus is a red-brown eyeshadow with AN INSANE amount of teal-green duochrome. Yes, we've seen this shade before in MAC Club and UD Lounge. It's been duped in Wet 'n' Wild's Comfort Zone and Night Elf palettes. But Hocus Pocus is lightyears better than Wet'n'Wild's version. The duochrome is much stronger. The eyeshadow, while it is dustier than my favorite shadow formulas, is much less dusty that Wet'n'Wild's formula and I'd go so far as to say the Prestige Total Intensity Eyeshadow may be the best eyeshadow formula currently in the drugstore, with its great pigmentation, relatively low fallout, and creamy, smooth consistency. It lasted well on me with a primer. I have Hocus Pocus and Bewitched and may get more of the metallic duochrome Total Intensity eyeshadows (though I've never been impressed by the satiny purple they have out as a tester in my drugstore/local Ulta.)
Pressed Powders -NARS - Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder
thecharm 3/2/2013 10:33:00 AM
I'm going to let you in on a little secret about NARS Light Reflecting pressed powder: It's silica. It's silica with a makeover. It's like Mia Thermopolis, although instead of trading bushy hair and glasses for sleek and contacted, it trades the messy dust and white cast for a super hard-pressed powder with subtle micas breaking up the whiteness. The good news is there's a reason people like silica-based powders: they control oil and they blur pores. So if you like silica-based powders, you will really like this. If you like silica but find the tendency loose silica powders have to fly up into your face annoying or want a pressed version for travel, you will really like this. If silica makes your skin react or feel tight... you're not going to like this. It may be prettier than normal silica but that is what it is, mostly, at its core. NARS LRP is hard and has virtually no dust. I apply it with a black natural-hair brush so I can see just what I'm picking up and putting down. If you look closely you can see shimmery micas in the powder, however, they do not show up on my face at all. The effect is a satin, dry but not entirely matte finish. I needed a pressed powder, and I like this one, but I'm not so sold on it that I would call it a HG.
The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer comes highly recommended on the boards, but I have to say I'm not too enthused about it. The powder is a little dusty but creamy and soft to the touch. It feels lightweight. It lasts fine on me. In the pan, it looks like a sheeny white-gold color, and if you look closely, you can see fine multicolored shimmer. Once applied, it seems to warm up on my pasty NW5 complexion and even looks a bit yellowy on. The shimmer isn't all that blingy, but it is noticeable even when blended out. I can see why people like it--you can do far worse with all the glitterbombs being sold as highlighters these days--but I prefer Shiseido High Beam White for its incandescent sheeny powers of defining features sans shimmer.
Eye Shadow -Prestige - Total Intensity Long Term Relationship- Bewitched
thecharm 2/27/2013 3:26:00 PM
The Prestige Total Intensity Long Term Relationship Eyeshadows I own, Hocus Pocus and Bewitched, are fantastic duochrome eyeshadows with a far-better-than-average eyeshadow formula for the price point. These don't crease on me (though I will say I have non-oily lids and eyeshadow's gotta be really oily to crease on me.) They are far silkier and smoother than any other drugstore eyeshadow I've tried, well pigmented, and have less powder kickback than Wet and Wild. My favorite metallic eyeshadow formulations have barely any powder dust, so I wouldn't rate this as well as my Shu or RBR. But still: these are good and at this point well worth having in my collection. Bewitched is, to a neutral hoor, the standout in the eight-piece eyeshadow collection. In the pain, it looks quite taupe. Once applied, the warmth of the base color becomes more apparent: a light (but not pale) golden brown with a hint of ruddiness. On top of this is a gorgeous, strong green hit of iridescence. It's frosty, but the visual interest of the green/teal hit keeps it from looking dated. I have Fyrinnae Envy Me and other complex neutrals with green, but I don't have any dupe for this. It looks great with Hocus Pocus in the crease; it looks great over a black base; it looks great paired with teal.
Revlon Super Lustrous lipsticks are an ultra-reliable fave. On me, they don't add any moisture, but they also don't take any away: a serious perk. Therefore, they stay comfortable on. (Most of them even fade well... not too quickly and not too unevenly.) They don't feel greasy or gritty. Helpfully, the lipstick tubes have a window so I can see the color even in largely tester-free America. They also have the finish (pearl, matte, creme) printed on the label. Super Lustrous lipsticks also have no offensive fragrance. And they come in a rainbow of options. There's a reason these have been a popular drugstore lipstick for eons.
I have rarely tried so hard with a makeup product; I tried so hard to like Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal, or, rather, I tried to get it to like me. It was so middle school. I spent time fiddling with it. I spent days trying to observe its effects, willing some positive change. There was such initial positive buzz about this product; I've seen it look spectacular on bloggers. Hourglass calls it "a universal finishing powder that features state-of-the-art technology to recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light." The powder feels soft to the touch, though there is a bit of a powder kickback. There's almost a siliconey, buttered feel, which I actually like. It's very smooth. Ethereal in particular is touted as an opalescent white to creat a moonlit finish. Sounds super mega foxy awesome hot, right? Sadly, Ethereal was a disappointment on my pale NW5 skin, once applied. For one thing, it was hard to get the balance right: I either applied so little that it was totally invisible (and not in an I'm-not-wearing-makeup-but-my-skin-is-perfect way) or it caked on, settling around the cheek fuzz we all have but don't want to see. Even when I did buff it to a satisfying finish, it looked a little ghostly in some lights. Even when it did look not-hideous, the entire effect was gone in three hours. Back to Sephora it goes. I'm a bit interested in Mood Lighting but I'm worried it, too, will vanish quickly. I want to try it on my face but I'm not all that hopeful. *weeps*
Pressed Powders -Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal
thecharm 2/24/2013 1:43:00 PM
I have rarely tried so hard with a makeup product; I tried so hard to like Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal, or, rather, I tried to get it to like me. It was so middle school. I spent time fiddling with it. I spent days trying to observe its effects, willing some positive change. There was such initial positive buzz about this product; I've seen it look spectacular on bloggers. Hourglass calls it "a universal finishing powder that features state-of-the-art technology to recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light." Who wouldn't want that? The powder feels soft to the touch, though there is a bit of a powder kickback. There's almost a siliconey feel, which I actually like. It's very smooth. Ethereal in particular is touted as an opalescent white to creat a moonlit finish. Sounds super mega foxy awesome hot, right? Sadly, Ethereal was a disappointment on my pale NW5 skin, once applied. For one thing, it was hard to get the balance right: I either applied so little that it was totally invisible (and not in an I'm-not-wearing-makeup-but-my-skin-is-perfect way) or it caked on, settling around the cheek fuzz we all have but don't want to see. Even when I did buff it to a satisfying finish, it looked a little ghostly in some lights. Even when it did look not-hideous, the entire effect was gone in three hours. Back to Sephora it goes. I'm a bit interested in Mood Lighting but I'm worried it, too, will vanish quickly.
I almost can't rave enough about Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color. Soft, yet suitably pigmented. (Almost too soft; these eyeshadows transfer easily. I recommend wearing a base.) They blend into each other like watercolors. Thought-provoking colors, combinations, and finishes. (Are you drooling yet? Because I totally am.) And just when I think D!ck Page has gotten lazy, releasing identical shades in both single and trio form, the subtle complexity of Shiseido color stories strikes again. For instance, Fondant (GR222) is a terrific shade--a bright, pastel mint-- but if you have Jungle, GR305, the trio of sunlit foliage greens, you might wonder if you need the single. Well, you do. The lightest green in Jungle is so yellow in comparison that it makes Fondant look like a robin's egg. The shade in Jungle is appropriately organic, while Fondant is appropriately candied. Jungle is grass, Fondant a soft buttermint. Both have the Shiseido impossibly tiny multihued shimmer, and it's actually quite similar--greens, golds, and an unlikely orange--but the base shade is so different they're not even close. Fondant is so lovely, adding visual interest as an accent color without stealing the spotlight. I love to pair it with (the otherwise sadly dullsville) Pink Sands but it would also go well with Guerlain Les Gris. It plays nice with taupes, violets, navy, bronze. Fresh, delicate, and surprisingly versatile, Fondant is a worthy addition to my collection.
Shiseido's Luminizing Satin Eye Colors are among my favorite eyeshadows, super-soft with complex finishes and unexpected color depth. In fact they are so soft, they wipe off almost effortlessly. Don't touch your eyelids, people. A small price in effort to pay for some of the most gorgeous, thoughtful shades on the market today. The singles are identical in feel to the trios, yet no shades are duplicated. VI 720, or Ghost, is no exception to the fine quality and may even be my favorite Shiseido single. As the "VI" part of its label would suggest, Ghost has a lilac base, albeit a very wan one, which is where the Ghost moniker starts to feel apt--it's a sort of greyed, purpled-dust color with a pinky essence. A whisper of ever-so-teensy multicolored sparkles--aqua, gold, pink--give the satin finish life without a "blingy" feel. Also ghostly? Apparently, this shadow cannot be photographed in the pan. It looks like a faded cool grey in pictures, no matter the lighting. Ghost must be experienced in person.
Shu Uemura ME Olive 471 is a seriously attractive color. Calling it olive is almost too simplistic. It is an olive, yes, but it seems to be almost deconstructed: it has more blue in it than I see in most olives and it has a golden shimmer. Less sage-y than Lancome Erika F but with that slightly dirtied, greyed feel. And the formula is fantastic. Shu metallics have this liquidy luster that somehow isn't too frosty. They feel so, so creamy-smooooove to the touch and they last well, better than similarly-luscious-feeling Shiseido powder shadows.
Shu Uemura has long been hailed for their buttery metallic taupes. People still talk about Shu ME Silver 945 years after it was (OH, GOD WHY???) discontinued. It was "replaced" with Shu ME Brown 850, which has also been discontinued and replaced with this one, Shu ME Medium Brown 856, and now we've come to the shadow currently available and the one I am currently reviewing. I love Shu ME 856. While some say it's not as "special" as either of its predecessors (I can't address that since I missed out on both) I still think it's a worthy taupe for any hoor. Buttery-smooth with that liquidy metallic Shu finish, so rare in a powder. (I love Shu metallics and glitters, the best finishes to survive the reformulation. I'm not as much of a fan of their newer satins or mattes.) Color wise, it looks quite purple-taupe in the pan, but applies quite a bit rosier. The effect is of a molten rosy-taupe. It is such a great lid color, I can't even tell you. The rosiness and the finish make it more accessible for those who find taupe hard to wear. Lovely pigmentation; lovely finish; soft, smooth feel. Total rave. Even without the supposed complexity of ME 945, this is one of my most tightly-clung-to shadows.
Eye Shadow -Guerlain - Ombre Eclat 4 Couleurs - 05 Les Gris
thecharm 2/23/2013 1:40:00 PM
Guerlain Les Gris is a ridiculously attractive quad, color wise, and a unique combination as far as quads go. The left-most shade is a deep, cool, matte smoke; there's a satiny cool putty beige; a deep, dry teal with multicolored sparkle; and a molten silver that has by far the best texture of the four. Guerlain shadow texture is not my favorite. I prefer an unctuous, almost creamy feel for eyeshadows (Shiseido and RBR remain my favorites) so this is a bit disappointing for the price. The teal in particular, so lovely in the pan, is a real letdown. I have to really work at it; it shows up, but it needs a good base and building for the complex sparkle to be visible. Once on, it does look great and last well. It's a lovely quad but if you're only buying it for the teal, you may be disappointed. Primarily recommended for people who like the Guerlain texture.
Top/Base Coats -Sally Hansen - Mega Shine Top Coat
thecharm 2/23/2013 1:19:00 PM
Nail products are, mysteriously, like mascara, super, super subjective. One person's ideal top coat, polish, or base coat may not work for another and may even cause serious problems. In my search for a holy grail top coat, I pooh-poohed Sally Hansen for a while, using lots of Poshe and Seche Vite, but ultimately SH Insta-Dri and Mega Shine really won me over. In my experience, Mega Shine is somewhat like Barielle manicure extender. It's great for prolonging wear time, but it doesn't dry multiple coats of polish super quickly. If I have the time, I wait for my polish to nearly-dry before using Mega Shine. If I don't, I use SH Insta-Dri. In any case, I apply Mega Shine every subsequent day or two of my mani to keep my nails super glossy and protect the coat. It doesn't shrink on me and I can get days out of finicky dark cremes with only slight tipwear. Mega Shine doesn't drag on the nail and has my favorite type of brush: flat, rather wide, but not the widest I've seen. My only issue, and it's a big one, is that the opaque bottle renders it impossible to tell how much topcoat is left in the bottle. A clear, rounded bottle would be much less annoying as it runs low.
Siberian Nights is a two-coater vampy creme. In many lights, it appears near-black, but in bright lighting and sunlight, you can see that it's actually a deep eggplant with some slight dustiness. It's quite similar to China Glaze VIII in my opinion, though VIII is slightly more blurple; Siberian Nights has the faintest touch of grape-jelly. Siberian Nights also lasts longer on me. So I kept Siberian Nights and purged VIII. I have very pale, pinky-toned skin and this color is one of the most flattering deep vamps out there for me. Goes just as well with a chunky cable knit and some hot cocoa as it does with layers of silver chains and a studded bracelet.