Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix, Top Coat review, swatches | A look at lampless gel polishes

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel no lamp nail polish review

The product: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix and Top Coat

The promise: This summer, Sally Hansen announced that they had solved the Big Question — of the nail world, that is. How do you get the wear time and look of gel nails, but without a trip to the salon?

The new Miracle Gel system promises to be the answer, delivering up to 14 days of wear and a gel that cures using natural light (there’s a photoinitiator in the top coat), no lamp necessary. It’s a two-step polish-and-top-coat process, but the polishes are available in a whopping 45 shades, and the system promises soak-free removal with acetone-based or even acetone-free nail polish remover.

So now the question is… does it work?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish – Sugar Fix review

The polish: I tested Sugar Fix for this review, a milky, vibrant light blue. It’s a cream finish shade (and unfortunately I haven’t tried any metallics or shimmers from the line), but even considering this, it was pretty underwhelming. The formula is extremely thin, needing four coats to even come close to opacity, and even then I find that it goes a bit streaky unless you’re careful.

The top coat: Despite this, though, I actually really enjoyed using the Miracle Gel Top Coat! It applies smoothly and quite thickly, immediately giving a very “gel” look to the nail. I find that it goes on without disturbing the polish at all, but like any good top coat, it also makes your colour look instantly smoother — which is perfect for someone who gives as shoddy a manicure as I do.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix review swatches

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix swatch (four coats)

Sally Hansen OMGel nail polish review

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish in Sugar Fix: 1, 2, 3, and 4 coats (L-R)

The wear: I actually tested these twice: first, I had a friend try out the system for me, and then I repeated it on my own. She saw barely 24 hours of wear before her polish began to form little cracks throughout, but I’m told that this could be because she used a base coat — so, if you give this system a try, NO BASE COAT! None!

When I used this set, however, I saw about 2 1/2 weeks of wear on my pedicure with no chipping, wearing, or cracking… in either the Miracle Gel polish or my control group nails. Once they did wear, I noticed the following things:

(1) There was no difference in wear between Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel polish and their Complete Salon Manicure polish,

(2) The Miracle Gel Top Coat presented no chipping over three weeks (dude) but did develop tip wear near the end,

(3) The Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Top Coat nails lasted the longer than the Miracle Gel Top Coat nails by a day, but then showed major chipping.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat review

The verdict?

This is the most rigorously I have ever tested a product (what? I really wanted it to work), so it is with reasonable confidence that I can say: don’t buy into marketing hype. The Miracle Gel system is, in my opinion, not worth investing in at $20/duo… but that includes the polishes.

The Miracle Gel Top Coat, however, is a different story. It delivered on its promise of durability and a gel-like look, and though I did see tip wear, it came with zero chipping and super easy removal. If you do like the look of gel nails and want a top coat that will wear well (caveat: but not as well as a true gel manicure), I’d say get the Miracle Gel Top Coat, but skip the polishes. 

Availability: $8.95 USD/$10.95 CAD each, for both the polishes and top coat.

Keep reading! »

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Pink, Green, & Orange Palette Swatches, Reviews, Photos | Perfectly curated eyeshadows for Turkey Day and beyond

Monday, October 13, 2014

shu uemura green brave beauty palette

The products: shu uemura Brave Beauty PinkGreen, and Orange Pressed Eyeshadow Palettes

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, and what better a time than turkey day to talk about shades of orange? (And, you know, also green and purple.)

I may not be crazy about yellows and oranges on a day-to-day basis, but even I was pulled toward the Orange Brave Beauty palette, and that’s where we start off today. My favourite thing about the Brave Beauty collection is that the eye palettes are so perfectly composed; coherent, but not at all dupeable, and the Orange palette is no exception to this rule.

Fall colours, all grown up

shu uemura brave beauty orange eyeshadow palette review

shu uemura brave beauty – orange palette review

All of the eyeshadows in the Brave Beauty Eye Palette Orange ($90 CAD) are cohesively warm and a little bit red, but I found that the formulas were quite varied. While the matte orange is beautifully smooth, layerable, and intense, not all of the shimmery shades are formulated as well – and at $90, you really shouldn’t have any letdowns. (The darker beige is chunky and a little dry, and the salmon pink applies very sheerly).

The rest of the shimmery shades, however, have a smooth texture with intense colour payoff, and each has a slightly different frost finish — the light beige is particularly metallic. I found that the dark brown applies a shade more bronze than you’d expect, and the purple-red appears as a cranberry-red with almost no purple tones on the skin.

shu uemura orange eyeshadow palette swatches brave beauty

shu uemura brave beauty – orange palette swatches

Forest-free greens and golds

For those looking for a unique palette that isn’t quite so bold, Shu’s Brave Beauty Eye Palette Green ($90 CAD) is the one you want to be looking toward. Described as “a tribe of forest inspired hues,” this is anything but your typical forest palette.

For starters, there’s only one brown eyeshadow in here, and it’s more of a deep yellow gold, not a… tree-moss brown. But beyond that, there’s a pearly light gold with subtle green undertones, a glowing pale green, and an unexpected lime-chartreuse that’s so unique that even I can’t help but stare. The final dark green shadow in the palette looks like a less-glowy MAC Humid, but does its job of adding depth despite its more boring characteristics.

shu uemura green eyeshadow palette swatches brave beauty

shu uemura brave beauty – green palette swatches

What really takes the Green palette to the next level, however, is that amazing matte green. I don’t even know how to describe it — it’s too saturated and bright to just be called “teal,” but it’s not really blue and not really green, either.

Check out the Brave Beauty Eye Palette Green in this { green-and-gold makeup look } !

imaginary shu palette

I think a proper forest palette would look a little bit like… this. (This is not a real palette.)

Keep reading! »

Annabelle Muddy, Glitzy Black Smudge Paint Gel Eyeliner swatches, review | The best gel liners in the drugstore

Monday, September 29, 2014

Annabelle Glitzy Black review

The product: Annabelle SmudgePaint Creamy Gel Shadow + Liner in Glitzy Black and Muddy

I’ve been falling pretty behind on theNotice these past few weeks, so let me make it up to you. Here’s a gel liner that I’ve had for years, but has only stuck a chord with me recently — Annabelle’s SmudgePaint liners.

Designed to be used both as an intense cream eyeshadow & gel liner, these guys were some of the first on the market to feature this all-in-one packaging. More importantly, though, they’re still creamy and soft, even after three years of sitting in my drawer. If that doesn’t sell you on a drugstore gel liner, I don’t know what will.

Annabelle Muddy Gel Liner shadow review

The formula: Light, soft, and easy to blend, I think the SmudgePaint formula is absolutely perfect for its intended use. It takes a while to dry down, so it’s not a great pick if you’re in a hurry, but that makes the formula really easy to smudge and blend — but it’s moussey rather than slippery, so it does pinpoint precision just as well as a smokey haze.

What I like most about this formula, however, is that it really lasts. Aside from Annabelle Black Spark and Lancome’s Artliners, there isn’t a single other eyeliner in my collection that lasts as well on me as Glitzy Black does — with a bit of silica powder through the lid, I get zero smudging and very minimal creasing over 10 hours.

Annabelle SmudgePaint gel eyeliner review

Annabelle SmudgePaint in Glitzy Black

Annabelle Muddy SmudgePaint Gel Eyeliner, shadow

Annabelle SmudgePaint in Muddy

The shades: I’m not a brown eyeliner fan, but I think Muddy has its appeal as a soft, natural liner or a heavier all-over base. (See it in a makeup look here!) It’s a pretty bronze-brown, with plenty of gold shimmer and no red undertones. (I think red-browns are far more interesting than yellow-browns, but I do admit that they’re harder to pull off.)

While I think Muddy is a little boring, however, I adore the admittedly-dupeable Glitzy Black. It’s quite an intense black, like most gel liners, and it has just enough silver shimmer to give my eyes a bit of a – but the stray glitter particles never irritate my sensitive eyes, and any travelling they do is done completely separate from the base shade. I think it was limited edition, but if they still do a similar shade, be sure to snap it up!

Annabelle Glitzy Black swatch SmudgePaint gel liner

Annabelle Glitzy Black swatched in indirect sunlightAnnabelle Glitzy Black gel liner review

The verdict?

I wish the opening of these pots was a little wider, but honestly… that’s the only complaint I have for them. With a good eye base, a smudgy wing of Glitzy Black lasts well into the evening on me, which is more than I can say of any other gel liner I’ve tried so far – and it’s very well pigmented, to boot.

The handy packaging and great price are just the cherry on top when it comes to these liners, so if you can find them — buy them.

Availability: $10.95 CAD at drugstores across Canada. Maybe. I don’t know. I could have sworn I just saw these in-store, but now I can’t find them on the Annabelle site and I’m kind of panicking.

Swatches, pot shots (heh) & more »

Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eye Liner review, swatches, photos | Liners for pen geeks

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hourglass liner review extra thin

The product: Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner in Obsidian 

[Ed. note #1: Dear reader, I am so sorry to have disappeared again last week. I spent it resting, like a princess from an 18th century fairy tale, decaying as I waited for a prince who will never come.] [Ed. note #2: Sleeping Beauty metaphors work excellently for fibromyalgia.]

Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eyeliner review

Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner in Obsidian

The concept: In a unique fit of precision, Hourglass has recently released a pencil liner with a small, specific liner width — something I’ve never seen before, outside of niche writing implements. Released only in black, in singles or sets of three, each pencil contains enough click-up gel liner for about 20 applications (2 clicks per eye), according to the brand.

I’ve read a lot of unhappy comments about the price of the liner, but honestly, it doesn’t really bug me. Hourglass has never been a budget line, and 2 clicks of liner per eye provides you with plenty of product. The brand’s honesty about the contents of each liner is quite refreshing – a lot of brands skimp on product with optic illusions and thick-walled glass or products halved and re-packaged, but only Hourglass has been upfront about how many uses their product actually contains.

But enough of that — let’s talk about that liner, then.

iHourglass Obsidian eyeliner review set of 3

The size & shade: I still definitely prefer thin brushes and potted gel liners for a super-fine line, but for a retractable pencil, this one is extremely precise. It’s considerably finer–and blacker–than all of the other mechanical eyeliners I own, but the intense colour is marginally softer and more satisfying than Milani Liquid Eye (not a twist-up) – Obsidian is a very neutral black, and as such won’t look as unnatural as cooler liners of comparable intensity.

Hourglass 1.5mm gel eye liner review swatch obsidian

Hourglass 1.5MM gel (pencil) liner swatches

Hourglass 1.5mm liner comparison review

“Lead” comparison: Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Intense | Hourglass 1.5MM Liner | Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Liner | Marcelle 2 in 1 Retractable Eyeliner (swatches at bottom of post)

The wear: Unfortunately, I wasn’t enamoured with the wear time of this one. It applies easily and precisely, smudging well, but does give me little raccoon eyes by the evening — I wouldn’t trust it for more than four hours without obsessive mirror-checks.

At almost a dollar per application (waterline, through the lashes, above the lashes, and a small wing on both eyes), I wish that this product wore betterThat said, I’ve heard very positive things about the wear from bloggers without monolids, so your mileage may vary!

Hourglass Mechancal Gel Eyeliner review obsidian

The verdict?

As much as I love the concept of a very thin pencil, and as much as I respect Hourglass for being honest about how tiny lines mean tiny cartridges, I would give these a pass if liner tends to smudge on you. Your money would be better spent on their calligraphy-brush liner or a new Ambient powder, honestly.

If liners do tend to last on you, though (because these certainly don’t preform below average), then these could be a great addition to your stash — especially on the go. I’d recommend buying the set of three, because they will run out pretty quickly, and there’s no anxiety like “oh god what if my liner runs out and I only have one eye done” anxiety.

Availability: $16 USD/$19 CAD each ($45 USD for three) at Sephora, Space NK, and Hourglass.

Comparison swatches & ingredients »

Shu Uemura Petal Lash Mascara review, swatches, photos | For a flower-scented fringe of lashes

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

shu uemura petal lash mascara review

The product: shu uemura petal lash mascara in intense black

I’ve been trying a lot of mascaras recently, but this one may just be my new favourite. Like all mascaras, it promises great things… but unlike the others… it actually delivers.

What sets the Petal Lash mascara apart is its unique “pink blossom applicator”, which features a curved square-and-round design made especially to fit Asian eyes. The 2mm round tip is perfect for catching tiny inner lashes (and great for point-lifting the lashes at the outer corner of the eye), while the square 3.5mm base coats the longer lashes perfectly.

Reader, I want all mascaras to come with a wand like this one. Applying mascara–especially to my short, sparse Asian lashes–has literally never been this easy before.

shu uemura petal lash mascara eotd swatch

bare lashes / 1 uncombed coat of shu uemura petal lash mascara

The formula: Flexible and just-dry-enough, the Petal Lash Mascara formula delivers soft, pliable lashes and still manages to maintain a curl. It adds natural-looking amounts of lift and length to the lash (but not a lot of volume), with zero clumping or flaking throughout the day – when I tested this in on a dry 28 degree day, I saw gorgeous separation and fullness with no smudging until the evening (8-10 hours later).

Plus–and I’m not gonna lie; this was a big pull for me–this formula is softly scented with an uplifting sakura fragrance, making application one of the best parts of my morning.

shu uemura petal lash scented mascara

Shu Uemura Petal Lash tube. Even the lettering is pretty! 

The verdict?

At the end of the day, mascaras always come down to personal preferences. I like this one because I like my mascaras to hold a curl, apply easily, and last well into the evening; you might not, especially if you like your mascaras to give you a heavy, dramatic lash or sooty lower lashline. But if you have thin, straight lashes and want a clean, natural lash look, take it from me: this one is a dreamboat.

(Oh. And did I mention that it also feels light as air, smells amazing, and is crazy easy to apply flawlessly?)

Availability: $29 CAD at shuuemura.ca, Holt Renfrew, and select Sephora stores across Canada.

Keep reading! »

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...