Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beauty Squared Round-Up: November 24, 2013

Good morning! Happy Sunday to you! In the mood for some lazy weekend web surfing? Here is your weekly round-up of the Beauty Squared approved useful, entertaining, interesting and thought-provoking from the last week or so.

  • Three must-read beauty books - do you have them all? 
  • Brown eyeshadow can be a little boring, but what if it's a little metallic and shimmery? Here are five celebs rocking some bronze eye looks - get inspired!
  • It's late fall here in Canada and that means boot season. Hurrah! But new boots can be a pain. Here are some tips for working them in so they don't pinch and cause blisters.
  • Elle Canada has an interview with fashion blogger Gabi Gregg ( who has earlier this year designed a line of swimwear for Swimsuits For All (online retailer of plus-size swimwear). 
  • We love beauty hacks, don't you? Here are three more that may change your life (or just make it easier). 
  • Want to look better in photos? Here's a tip that you may not believe. SQUINCHING. It takes practice but it may make all the difference for you. Don't believe me? Click through.
  • Beautylish is celebrating the dearly missed and wonderful MUA Kevyn Aucoin. Take a look and embrace the magic of Mr. Aucoin.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Urban Decay Shattered Face Case Review, Swatches and Photos

I have a love-hate relationship with Urban Decay...I love their products and formulations, but strongly dislike their packaging. Though I know distinctive packaging is a crucial part of branding, and Urban Decay's packaging is some of the most unique on the market, their packaging is almost always too bulky, gaudy ad cumbersome for my tastes. Even their custom build palettes seem too big and wasteful (in terms of materials and space) to me.

I was then, very pleasantly surprised when I received their Shattered Face Case, which I purchased during their Friends and Family 20% sale a few weeks back. Shattered has a very well designed case which fits all of the below in a neat 5" x 2.5" x 1" case:

- 5 new eye shadows in Shakedown, Remix, Nameless, Minor Sin and Bleach
- a full sized Super Saturated High Gloss Lip Color in Lovechild
- a mini 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencil in Zero
- two new blushes in Overexposed and Temper
- a highlighter in Glint
- two mirrors, one on each tier

Photos in natural light on NC 40 skin.

Shakedown, Remix, Nameless, Minor Sin and Bleach

Shakedown is a gun metal grey shimmer with a brown base, which translates to a dark, fairly neutral taupe. It has a shimmer but it's understated, which makes it look like a very luminous satin finish. The texture is a bit on the powdery side, but the pigmentation is good.

Remix is a medium dark purple shimmer, which neither leans red or blue. Like Shakedown, the finish is shimmery but not frosty. Again, the texture is on the powdery side but the pigmentation is good.

Nameless is a medium, warm toned grey-brown taupe. Like Shakedown and Remix it has a fine shimmer. Fantastic pigmentation on this shade and a creamy texture.

Minor Sin is a satin finish light pinky beige. Again, good pigmentation and a creamier texture.

Bleach is a light yellow beige matte finish, with excellent pigmentation and creamy texture. By far the least powdery shadow in the palette. It's a powder version of MAC's Soft Ochre Paint Pot.

Overexposed, Temper, Glint, Lovechild and Zero

Overexposed is a dusty rose blush, with good pigmentation and a finely milled, blendable texture. A great warm neutral blush which will look good on any skin tone.

Temper is a cool baby pink blush, again with good pigmentation and a finely milled, blendable texture. A great "pop" colour for the cheeks and universally good on all skin tones.

Glint is a warm, champagne beige highlighter with a strong frost/metallic finish. Because of it's heavy frost, I would recommend using it lightly with a duo fibre or fan brush for more natural results.

Lovechild is a cool, mid tone pink glossy lipstick. Good opaque pigmentation with a naturally glossy finish. This could double as a lovely cream blush too.

Zero is a dense neutral black eye liner with excellent staying power and a creamy texture which sets after a few seconds.

General Thoughts

I have to say I am very impressed with this palette - not only are the colours wearable and versatile, the actual physical design and dimensions of the kit has my approval. This palette could fit in most clutches! The shadows have a good tonal range and have enough neutral shades to truly make this wearable day or night. The inclusion of Remix also means you can do a more colourful look if you wish. Similarly, the inclusion of both a warm and cool toned blush also gives this palette a lot of flexibility.

This palette has enough product in it that you could build numerous different looks out of it, which makes it perfect for travel. I also appreciate that you can switch out the High Gloss Lip Color and the 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil for other shades in your stash.

Shattered Face Case is exclusively available on Urban Decay's website and retails for $44.00 USD. Urban Decay online also offers shipping to Canada.

Grade: A


Thursday, November 21, 2013

MAC Fanfare Lipstick Review, Photos and Swatches

What do you do when one of your favourite products is limited edition and you're almost out of it? I faced that recently with a MAC Cremesheen lipstick called Gem of Roses. It was released with the Semi-Precious collection in 2011 and it's such a pretty MLBB (My Lips But Better) shade for me. I'm wearing it in this FOTD from 2011. It's such an easy shade to wear and natural enough that I can pair it with a smoky eye or with very natural day make-up.

I went into MAC to see if I could find a similar shade and without hesitation found one. Fanfare is described as a midtone yellow-pink and is one of the Cremesheen lipsticks. It's a permanent shade. 

I'd describe Fanfare as a rosy pink and it is a touch more opaque than Gem of Roses, but it's definitely a dupe. Hurrah!

Fanfare lipstick swatched on NW15 skin
And here it is swatched next to Gem of Roses (top swatch). Pretty close, right? Gem of Roses is maybe a touch more purpley and definitely a little more sheer but they're nearly identical.

L-R: MAC Gem of Roses, MAC Fanfare (NW15 skin)

This shade is so very wearable. I've seen it work well on warm and cool skintones as well as on fair and medium skintones. It adds just a pop of rosy pink and that gorgeous sheen that the Cremesheen lipsticks have. 

I'm so relieved to have found another lipstick I can wear as easily as I did Gem of Roses! Hurrah MAC!

Grade: A


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Marc Jacobs Shameless Bold Blush in Obsessed: Review, Swatches and Photos

When Sephora had their VIB sale recently, I picked up a polish (see my review of Petra, here) and a blush from the brand new Marc Jacobs make-up collection. The Marc Jacobs collection is available only at Sephora stores and and consists of foundation, concealer, powder, highlighter, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, nail polish and brushes.

The Marc Jacobs Shameless Bold Blushes (taken from the Sephora website) are vivid, silky and deliver bold colour and unprecedented vibrancy. They're inspired by Marc's tattoo and meld with your skin enabling you to sculpt perfect contours. The formula is infused with bio-lipids and essential amino acids, which create the powder's ultra lightweight, silky texture and ensures a seamless application. The blush comes in a silk faille pouch with a portable angled blush brush. 

They are 0.15 oz each and cost $36 CDN and $30 US.

The blush shade I chose is Obsessed. It's described as warm pink. 

Silk faile pouch

Blush compact and mini angled blush brush

The pouch the blush comes in is a nice touch. I have carried it with me in my purse and it nicely protects the compact and the brush it comes with. As for the brush, these I would normally toss in order to use my regular make-up brushes, but this one is different. It is tiny, yes, which is my only issue with it. You have less control with a small brush, I find. But the bristles are luxuriously soft and rather than just a even length brush, it's angled, which makes it perfect for applying blush. You can carry the blush and the brush around with you in the pouch and touch up whenever you need to!

I actually haven't used any other brushes with this blush yet, that's how well this mini brush works.

The compact comes with a little removable plastic cover (pictured over the blush in the photo above). It helps to keep the interior of the compact clean.

Add caption
Obsessed is a gorgeous, glowy pink with a hint of peach to it. It's got some shimmer to it, but it's just a beautiful shimmery shade. I couldn't resist it. 

Pigmentation-wise, it's on the low side. I have fair skin, so that doesn't bother me too much. It shows up pretty well on me, and with blush, a little goes a long way on me. 

It looks so pretty on the skin, not powdery or chalky. It blends beautifully and is buildable if you want more pigmentation. 

Here it is swatched on the inside of my forearm (NW15 skintone). 

As you can see, the shimmer is visible, but not heavy. It looks quite natural. The swatch above was done using the accompanying brush.

And here is it on my cheeks. 

Pretty, right? It's the perfect, barely-there cheek colour for pairing with a bold lip colour which is my make-up look these days. 

I used the side of the brush to gently dust it across my cheekbone and then used the top of the blush to blend it up and across my temple. I've been wearing it every day since I got it and I absolutely love it. It lasts on my combination (oily/normal) skin for approximately 10 hours before it fades away. 

I haven't tried the other blushes in the collection, but I suspect these would work best on fairer skintones as Obsessed does on my skintone. 

Grade: B (I love it, but it is low on pigmentation)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Le Métier de Beauté Kalidescope Eye Kit in Carnaby Review, Swatches and Photos

One of Le Métier de Beauté's(LMdB) latest Kalidescope offerings is Carnaby Street ($95.00 US), which is exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. Although LMdB is sadly not available in Canada, it is possible to order through Neiman Marcus as they do offer shipping to Canada.

The real Carnaby Street is a three block shopping district in London that was fashion ground zero for Mods and Hippies in the swinging1960's. It's not surprising  that this Kalidescope palette features some retro inspired shades. I used this palette before I shot the review pictures, so you will have to forgive a little mess! Photos shot in natural light on NC 40 skin.

Carnaby Street: First tier

The first shadow in Carnaby Street is a peachy pink satin finish, which is well pigmented and has a natural sheen. It actually reminds me of the shades of lipstick Mods would wear!

Carnaby Street: Second tier

The second shadow is a beautiful grey taupe with a hint of golden shimmer. This shadow has excellent pigmentation and a soft shimmery finish. A fantastic neutral that can go with so many warm and cool toned shades.

Carnaby Street: Third tier

The third shadow is a matte, soft slightly greyed pinky mauve with excellent pigmentation and texture. Other than LMdB's Nouvelle Vague Kalidescope, I can't think of another colour similar to this. So soft and pretty.

Carnaby Street: Fourth tier

The last shadow is a medium dark metallic sapphire blue with hints of teal. Again this shadow has excellent pigmentation and blendability.

The following swatches show the four shades individually and on the far right the shades layered in LMdB's "Couches de Couleur" technique, starting with the first tier on the bottom, followed with the other tiers successively on top. 

Carnaby Street 1-4, far right 2 layered on top of 1

Carnaby Street 1-4, far right layered 3,2,1

Carnaby Street 1-4, far right layered 4,3,2,1

You can see how layering the shades creates depth and a unique hue each time another shadow is added. For an informative and somewhat funny tutorial about this technique a video can be watched here.

Overall I think this palette is excellent, and the range of colours flexible enough to create multiple different looks. Many people will balk at the $95.00 US price tag, but believe all the blogosphere hype about these shadows because they are some of the best I have ever used. LMdB's shadows have a cult following for a reason - they are pigmented, creamy, blendable, long wearing and have a beautiful finish regardless of the texture (matte, satin, shimmer, metallic etc.)

Grade: A


Monday, November 18, 2013

Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer in Petra: Review, Swatches and Photos

Marc Jacobs recently launched his makeup line at Sephora and it's lovely stuff. During the recent Sephora VIB 20% off sale I picked up a few items. This post will look at one of his nail lacquers, Petra. 

The Marc Jacobs nail lacquers (according to the Sephora website) are superior polishes with an unprecedented finish and the shine of 30 coats of lacquer (presumably they mean non-fingernail polish lacquer here). Marc was inspired by his highly lacquered coffee table when he created the Enamored Hi-Shine Lacquer. It's formulated with patented bonding agents that deliver a plasticized, wet look, while the colour-rich creams and fine glitters ensure vivid, chip-resistant wear. Marc was also inspired by his favourite movies when he created the shades. The custom, curve-hugging brush optimizes application and the curvature of the bottle resembles a smile. Each shade is 3-Free: formulated without toulene, formaldehyde and DBP.

They are 0.43 oz and cost $18 US and $22 CDN. Available exclusively on or in Sephora stores. 

Petra is described as a dirty bronze metallic shimmer.

The first thing of note is the bottle. They look unlike any other polishes on the market (that I'm aware of). Wider and curved from the front and back, it's narrow on the sides. It feels good to hold onto. 

Here it is in my hand to show size. 

The colour of Petra is purpley-taupe with silver and bronze shimmer. It's a very changeable colour, sometimes looking dark and purple-grey and other times flashing with coppery-silver. I don't know of a similar shade out there like it. 

The photos below show the shade's variation.

The coverage of Petra is very good with only two coats (pictured below). I had trouble photographing my manicure, so I did some research and found this review on The Beauty Look Book which has some great photos of it.

The consistency of Petra is a little thick, so it takes some focus to apply. But it goes on smoothly and consistently and you probably won't need more than one coat. It takes a bit longer than usual to dry and you definitely don't want to rush the second coat. 

This is a gorgeous, gorgeous polish. It's changeability makes it suited for both warm (copper) and cool (purple, silver) skintones. I found myself admiring it frequently while I was wearing it, seeing how it caught and changed with different lighting. 

It is pricey, yes. But the quality is excellent and this shade is unique. 

Grade: A


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beauty Squared Round-Up - November 17, 2013

Hello lovelies! It's time again for the weekly Beauty Squared Round-Up. This week has quite a bit of interesting, helpful and exciting links for you, so let's not delay any longer...

  • First up, Jennifer Lawrence. I have a big, old girl crush on this gal. She cut her hair off into a great pixie cut and is experimenting with new looks (as I think we all do when we change up our hair dramatically). Check out this dramatic, vampy look that we haven't seen her do before. Thoughts? 
  • Speaking of drama, here's a way of getting a bit into your daytime makeup look - the daytime smoky eye
  • You've heard of food trucks, now what about a Lip Bar Truck
  • Do you have naturally curly/wavy hair? The Hand Dry Hair Glove may change your life.
  • Apart from comments like "She needs bangs like she needs air in her lungs" this is a cool, quick, simple makeover, done in an elevator. Also, it shows you how to curl your hair with a flat iron.
  • Plastic surgery trends in Venezuela are changing the appearance of mannequins. Now they're being built with enormous breasts, very narrow waists and exaggerated rears.
  • Benefit Cosmetics has a build-your-own makeup kit, just in time for Christmas!
  • This list is entirely subjective, but here are seven beauty products you can (probably) skip completely. 
  • Adele has reportedly turned down a £12 million offer to be the UK ambassador of L'Oreal
  • And finally, check out this incredible aging and rebirth transformation, done entirely with make-up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sleek i-Divine Ultra Mattes V2 Darks Palette Review, Swatches and Photos

I recently ordered a few products from Sleek Makeup, a UK makeup company. I'd been hearing and reading a fair bit about their very well-priced eyeshadow palettes, highly pigmented blushes and BB cream online and the cost made it very accessible, despite the exchange rate and shipping. More on all of that later though...

This post takes a look at one of the two eyeshadow palettes I ordered, the Ultra Mattes V2 Darks Palette. It costs $9.99 US and contains 12 matte eyeshadows. 

Here's what Sleek has to say about this palette:

Sleek MakeUP's legendary i-Divine palettes are 12 shades of super-pigmented, long lasting mineral based eyeshadow, designed to suit all. Each i-Divine contains pearlescent shades, which contain mica particles that highlight and illuminate giving an overall radiant effect. 

Ultra Matte Darks are creamy and super blend-able. Due to the intense colour, a little goes a long way. The browns, blues and purples ideal for contouring and creating intense eyes. the light creams and whites are also perfect for highlighting inner corners or your brow bone.

12 x 1.1g/12x 0.03 oz

Here are some photos of the packaging.

Back of the box

Shown in my hand to show size.

Back of the palette

The i-Divine palettes have a large mirror on the lid (not pictured) and a clear plastic sheet with the names of each eyeshadow on it. This strikes me as odd since you can't order these eyeshadow colours individually so why would you need to know a name. Still, it's nice to put a name to something. I wish it weren't on a plastic sheet that falls out of the palette each time I open it though. 

The palette also comes with a double-ended applicator. This I just toss. The texture of these eyeshadows works so much better with brushes.

The Ultra Mattes V2 Darks Palette is mix of bright colours (green, blue, purple) and more neutral shades (white, cream, grey). It's a good mix and you could come up with a lot of different looks just using this palette. And they're all matte, which is really rare to find in a palette, especially one so inexpensive. 

Let's look a little closer at the shadows. I opted to photograph and swatch them in fours, from left to right. (Swatches on my inner arm. I am MAC NW15 skintone for reference.)

Clockwise from top left: Orbit, Ink, Maple, Thunder

Here are the first four shades swatched on my inner forearm.

L-R: Orbit, Thunder, Ink, Maple
Orbit is a bright teal with excellent pigment, probably the best in the palette. Texture-wise it's on the creamy side.

Thunder is a medium grey with a bit of a powdery texture. It's one of my favourite colours in the palette.

Ink is a deep sapphire blue that swatches much better than you'd expect looking at the pan. It's a little dusty to apply but has good pigmentation. 

Maple is an orangey-red with good pigmentation and a creamier consistency. The colour reminds me of autumn leaves. This might make a bold but OK blush colour too - hmmmmm?

The middle four shades:

Clockwise from top left: Highness, Noir, Paper Bag,

Here they are swatched:

L-R: Highness, Flesh, Noir, Paper Bag
Highness is a very pretty bright purple. Perfectly named, in my opinion, since it's a royal purple. The texture is slightly powdery. 

Flesh is a warm fleshtone shade with good pigmentation. This is one of a few neutral shades in the palette and would make a good base colour for the lids.

Noir is a green-black, which is interesting since the name suggests black or blue-black. I like this colour a lot, though the pigmentation is a bit lacking due to the powdery texture. *There is a Noir shade in the i-Divine Au Naturel palette and I suspect they're the same shade but they look slightly different. The one in the Au Naturel palette is creamier and darker than this one. 

Paper Bag is a very wearable medium red-brown. It's on the creamy size, texture-wise and blended out it's more red.

Here are the last four shades in the palette:
Clockwise from top left: Dune, Pillow Talk, Fern, Villain

And here they are swatched:

L-R: Dune, Villain, Pillow Talk, Fern

Dune is a light yellowy-peach flesh tone and the least pigmented of the palette. It's dry in texture which gives it the lack of pigment.

Villain is a burgundy with a good amount of pink to it. The texture is good, so the pigmentation is decent. This is a great shade

Pillow Talk is chalk white. The pigmentation is good and I used this to do my Halloween makeup this year (I did 60s makeup). A stark white matte eyeshadow like this isn't easy to find.

Fern is a bright forest green that's a bit on the chalky side so the pigmentation lacks a bit. Still, I love this shade. So vibrant!

Just like with the Sleek i-Divine Au Naturel palette, this palette was a mixed bag in terms of texture and pigmentation but all shades, I feel are workable and wearable. Because these are all matte, the bolder and brighter shades may be more intimidating to wear, but I'm very curious to see how these colours work their way into my makeup looks. 

Cost-wise, and in terms of quality, this is an excellent option.

Grade: B

A few things I've discovered about ordering Sleek products online: I looked into a few different ways to get my hands on Sleek products. You can order through the Sleek website directly, or find some products through Ebay. You can also order through Superdrug if you live in the UK. US residents, note that you cannot order eyeshadow from the Sleek website due to shipping regulations, but Canadian residents have no such issues. I ended up going through Sleek directly. Prices were in US$. Shipping was very reasonable. I paid $6.49 US in shipping for an order that came to just over $50 US. There was no duty once it arrived either. I was very happy with the cost! No added charges.

Another thing you should know was that it took about a week and a half for my order to arrive. From the UK. That's fantastic! I was shocked as I expected to have to wait for a month or more as I have ordering things from the UK in the past!

I was also happy that none of the products I'd ordered were damaged when they arrived.

The other Sleek products reviewed on Beauty Squared: