A Brief Interlude

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Due to work responsibilities, this blog will be silent during the month of March. Stay tuned for April! 🙂

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Review: Nars “NARSissist Eye Palette”

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With its high prices, luxe packaging, and French origin, Nars Cosmetics has become the new Chanel — with an edge!

Although most famous for their blushes, Nars eyeshadows are also highly esteemed. At $25 apiece, however, it takes a great deal of “makeup lust” to fork over money for these eyeshadows!

So when I spotted the new “NARSissist” eyeshadow palette online ($75 for 15 Nars eyeshadows — a $300 value), I decided to take the plunge!

It will also allow me to review 15 Nars eyeshadows for you at once, which, although the palette itself is limited edition, are part of the permanent line.

The packaging is very sturdy and sleek, as expected of a Nars product:

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Behold — the 15 Nars eyeshadows — all neutral colors:

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As you see above, a mirror is also included.

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Let’s jump right to the swatches!

First row (left to right): “All about Eve”, “Madrague II”, “Fez”, “Bali”, “Coconut Grove”
Second row (left to right): “Madrague I”, “Nepal”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Brousse II”, “Mekong”
Third row (left to right): “Bellissima I”, “Lhasa”, “Bad Behavior”, “Dogon II”, “Pandora II”

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Side by side with the palette:

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Let’s examine each row (and shade) individually!

*****FIRST ROW*****

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1) “All about Eve” — Champagne gold shimmer. I was disappointed in the pigmentation of this shade since it is quite light in the swatch above. Nevertheless, might be useful as a subtle brow or inner corner highlight color.

2) “Madrague II” — Matte caramel — useful as a crease color!

3) “Fez” — Described by the website as “velvety cocoa.” This color is a rich copper bronze, the exact color of a penny. Excellent pigmentation — definitely a standout shade in this palette! This color would greatly flatter blue eyes.

4) “Bali” — Matte slate brown. Good color to deepen the crease or even as a lid color.

5) “Coconut Grove” — Intensely pigmented matte black-brown. This shade could be used as a lid, crease, or eyeliner color.

*****SECOND ROW*****

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1) “Madrague I” — Described by the website as “matte cream.” This was my least favorite shade in the palette. As you can see in the photo above, the pigmentation is non-existent!

2) “Nepal” — Described as “soft sheer rose.” I would describe it as “rose gold”, but the “sheer” part is right on the money. I was disappointed in the poor pigmentation of this shade as well. It could be useful as an eyelid color, or even possibly as a very subtle brow bone highlight.

3) “Ashes to Ashes” — Taupe shimmer. This is one of Nars’ more fabled shades! It is a nice cool-toned neutral taupe, but again, the product has to be built up considerably in order to achieve a proper color payoff, which was a bit of a downer for me. I really was expecting something a little more exciting from this famous Nars eyeshadow!

4) ” Brousse II” — Black violet shimmer. Decent pigmentation — would be beautiful on the lid or crease for a smokey eye! Flattering for all eye colors.

5) “Mekong” — Deep brown-black, infused with golden shimmer. My favorite shade in the palette! Rich pigmentation — again, perfect for a smokey eye. Striking in the crease, lid, or even on the lash line.

*****THIRD ROW*****

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1) “Bellissima I” — Shimmering beige with subtle glitter. I actually love this color as a highlight (inner corner, brow bone). The glitter is indeed subtle — but striking.

2) “Lhasa” — Lavender-toned taupe. Another iconic Nars shade! A nice neutral lid color that must nevertheless be built up (layer after layer) for color payoff.

3) “Bad Behavior” — Charcoal shimmer. Fantastic pigmentation on this one! Lovely as a lid color in a smokey eye look.

4) “Dogon II” — Deep gray-black shimmer. Another dramatic color for a smokey eye!

5) “Pandora II” — Matte black. Rich black for an eyeliner shade.

I created a sample eye look using some of these shades:

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Colors used:
Base — “All about Eve”
Lid — “Lhasa”
Crease — “Mekong”
Brow bone (highlight) — “Bellissima I”

Overall, these Nars shades are hit-or-miss. Standouts of the palette include “Fez”, “Mekong”, and “Bellissima I”. Nevertheless, even with these standout colors, I’d expect better pigmentation and blendability, particularly given the high prices. Across the board, their texture is also waxy, not buttery. In all honesty, I think you can find more pigmented dupes for these shadows at a lower price point.

Underwhelmed. Don’t waste your money!

Final Verdict: 2.5/5 Stars

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The “NARSissist” Eye Palette (limited edition), as well as Nars individual eyeshadows contained therein (permanent line), are available at Sephora and narscosmetics.com for $75 and $25, respectively

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Top 5 Makeup Mistakes by Older Women

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Makeup is designed to enhance our features and preserve the illusion of youth as long as possible. Nevertheless, if applied incorrectly, it can further age an older woman.

I’ve listed below my Top 5 mistakes which older women often make with their makeup! 🙂

1) Cake on the Powder

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Powder, when applied in excess, can cake and further emphasize fine lines. In fact, mature skin is rarely oily, which negates the need for powder altogether. A good, moisturizing BB or CC cream (worn alone) is a great solution for older ladies.

2) Skipping Undereye Concealer

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Undereye concealer is a critical step for older women. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to find an older woman who doesn’t struggle with a dark, baggy undereye area! One must be careful, however, to find a product which doesn’t crease and thus highlight wrinkles. My favorite undereye concealers (which don’t crease) are Nars’ “Radiant Creamy” concealer and, at a sweeter price tag, Maybelline’s “Age Rewind” undereye concealer.

3) Wearing Dark Lipstick

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I made this side-by-side collage comparison of Dame Helen Mirren (a beautiful and stunning older actress) to illustrate how dark lipstick can age a mature woman. She appears a few years older on the left, wearing the dark lipstick. One of the reasons for this is dark lipstick’s ability to make the lips looked pinched and small. A far more youthful look is accentuated by lighter lipstick, pink/coral/nude, topped with shiny gloss. The gloss can even make the lips look “plumped” and fuller — a very youthful look!

4) Spider Lashes

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Really, this photo speaks for itself. One or two coats of mascara — that’s all!

5) Skipping Sunscreen

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again! Besides avoiding cigarettes, applying sunscreen is the single greatest thing you can do to slow aging. The photo above, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows a truck driver’s face. Notice that the side of his face exposed to the sun all those many years is terribly wrinkled — in drastic comparison to the other side. You should incorporate sunscreen — SPF 30 or greater — into your makeup routine each morning, either in the form of moisturizer, primer, foundation, powder, or all of the above.

See you next time! 🙂

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The 5-Minute Face!

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We’ve all had those days when, running short on time, we are tempted to forego makeup altogether. Yet this is no excuse to look lousy! You will feel better about yourself and perform better at work if you take a few moments to enhance your appearance. If we follow a few simple steps, we can achieve a polished makeup look with a minimum of fuss — all under 5 minutes!

Let’s go!

Before (bare face — as a reference point):

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Step 1: MASCARA

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Mascara is absolutely essential. Dark lashes serve to define the eyes — and therefore enable you to skip eyeliner if you are short on time. It adds a feminine flourish to your look which cannot be replaced!

Step 2: BB/CC Cream

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I recommend your favorite BB or CC cream for this step (they are interchangeable products, in my opinion) or even tinted moisturizer since these products provide color correction and moderate coverage — in addition to sunscreen (which is vital!).

Step 3: Brow Powder

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This step is essential since strong brows serve to frame the entire face. I recommend using an eyeshadow slightly darker than your natural eyebrow color. I usually use Bobbi Brown’s “Steel” eyeshadow for this purpose, although such a color would be too dark for blondes.

Step 4: Cream Blush

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Cream blush is particularly suitable for this step since one can easily blend it into the cheeks with the fingers for a natural flush — like you’ve just come in from a wintry day!

Step 5: Lip Gloss

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This is the finishing touch! Any lip gloss will do.

And you are done! 5 steps in 5 minutes! 🙂

Before/After:

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Products used in this look:
1) Makeup Forever “Smoky Extravagant” Mascara
2) Smashbox “Camera Ready” CC Cream in “Fair” (SPF 30)
3) Bobbi Brown eyeshadow in “Steel” (brows)
4) Chanel Cream Blush in “Chamade”
5) Revlon ColorBurst Lip Gloss in “Rosepearl”

Hope you enjoyed this post! See you next time! 🙂

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Review: Clinique’s New “Pop” Blushes!

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Clinique’s new “Pop” blushes, with their vibrant girly shades, are eye-catching new products at the department store counters — especially since it has been some time since Clinique has offered new selections in that category!

These blushes come in only 4 vivid shades, which are (left to right in the photo below) “Plum Pop,” “Berry Pop,” “Peach Pop,” and “Ginger Pop.”

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These blushes offer a “satin” finish, meaning they are neither matte nor sparkly but somewhere between the two. The pigmentation is very strong and true to that which is visible in the pan, as you can see in the swatches above.

Let’s examine each blush individually!

1) “Plum Pop”

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This shade is a bright, cool, blue-toned pink — similar to Bobbi Brown’s “Pale Pink” blush. It does possess a strong lavender undertone, however, which perhaps explains the shade name. Otherwise, this shade is far from plum! Gorgeous on fair-skinned ladies 🙂

2) “Berry Pop”

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This shade is a beautiful deep cool-toned berry, which would be pigmented enough to show up on darker skin tones. It looks similar to Tarte’s Amazonian Clay blush in “Flush.”

3) “Peach Pop”

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The name says it all! This is a neutral-toned peach blush which would most flatter pale skin. It reminds me of Mac’s “Melba” blush.

4) “Ginger Pop”

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This blush is similar to “Peach Pop,” but more intense and with an accompanying ruddy glow which would flatter most skin tones.

All in all, these blushes are highly pigmented and (with their dramatic pinks, berries, and peaches) perfect for spring. They are super fun and girly, bestowing a healthy feminine flush. Plus, who doesn’t love the adorable packaging — complete with blush in the shape of daisies?!

I splurged and bought them all! These are worth collecting. Well done, Clinique!

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at Clinique counters and Sephora for $21

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Review: Covergirl’s “Bombshell Volume” Mascara

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The advertisement for Covergirl’s new “Bombshell Volume” mascara was certainly intriguing. Who doesn’t crave “bombshell lashes”?

This mascara, which is large and slightly unwieldy, is double-sided in a unique two-step system (one base coat, followed by an intensifying top coat):

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The wand at each end is shaped differently as well.

See end #1 (thicker wand, shorter bristles):

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See end #2 (slimmer wand, longer bristles):

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And for the ultimate test! (Top row: bare lashes –> Second row: one coat of each –> Third row: two coats of each)

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The results are good, producing fairly impressive long thick lashes.

There are a couple of caveats, however. Most of the volume and drama in the above photos was achieved by applying mascara from end #2 (the end with the slimmer wand and longer bristles). In fact, I have ceased applying the base coat (end #1) since it adds so little pigment to the lashes. Also, this mascara occasionally clumps, as it did in the photograph (third row, right eye). Even so, this mascara is still above-average for the drugstore/Wal-Mart, although not as excellent as L’Oreal’s “Voluminous Million Lashes Excess” mascara.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars

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Available at Wal-Mart, ULTA, Rite Aid, Target, CVS, & Walgreen’s for $9

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Review: Bobbi Brown’s “Shimmer Finish” Lipstick!

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The ideal lipstick is one which coats the lips in high pigment, all the while providing much-needed moisture. For this reason (and because I have a Christmas gift card to Belk!), I was drawn to the new Bobbi Brown “High Shimmer” lipsticks.

They are advertised as a lipstick/lipgloss hybrid, which certainly sounds intriguing. Per Bobbi Brown’s website, these lip colors are “packed with luxurious butters and oils to nourish and condition lips.”

So far so good! Let’s see for ourselves!

The packaging of this product (shown below in the shade “Berry Shimmer”) is identical to that of Bobbi’s other lipsticks, down to the bullet shape:

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Once swiped, however, certain unique features appear. The finish is ultra-glossy and the shade multidimensional. The berry color gives off a high sheen via the many pink, red, and golden sparkles running through the product:

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On the lips, this lipstick fulfills its moisturizing claim. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever worn a lipstick so gentle on my winter-chapped pout! The color is also gorgeous, with a gloss-like luster, and would be flattering on every skin tone:

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Full face view:

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In short, this is a fabulous lipstick, which comes in 12 shades. It lasts approximately 3 hours on my lips before fading and must be re-applied after each meal, both qualities expected of a gloss-like product. My biggest problem, however, is that I now want every single shade! I feel like this is a product which will be in my purse at all times from this point on. Thankfully, these lip colors are not limited edition, so you should be able to collect them all at your leisure! Below are the shades, as listed on the Bobbi Brown website:

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Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at Sephora and bobbibrowncosmetics.com for $25

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