Annabelle Zebra Biggy Bronzer review, swatches: Haute, Matte, & Dark Gold

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Annabelle Biggy Zebra Bronzing powders review

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Biggy Zebra Bronzing Powder in Haute Gold, Dark Gold, and Matte Gold

I’m entering week 7 of Rae’s Epic Tonsillitis Fest of 2015, so today, I’ve chosen a really easy product to review: Annabelle’s Biggy Bronzers. They’re just updated versions of the brand’s original Zebra bronzer (which, as a few of you might even remember, was my first bronzer love back in the day), and darn it, their big, silly, striped design makes me happy.

Annabelle Cosmetics Matte Gold Biggy Bronzer review

Annabelle “Matte Gold” Biggy Zebra Bronzing Powder review

Annabelle Cosmetics Dark Gold Biggy Bronzer review

Annabelle “Dark Gold” Biggy Zebra Bronzing Powder review

The product: Each Biggy powder bronzer is zebra-patterned with light and dark bronze stripes in either a subtle shimmer (Haute Gold, Dark Gold) or matte (Matte Gold) finish. Each shade blends seamlessly to give you a perfectly gold-hued bronze, and the yellow/red undertones never look ruddy or fake the way many orange-brown bronzers can.

Annabelle Haute Gold, Dark Gold, Matte Gold Bronzer swatches review

Annabelle Biggy Bronzer swatches: Dark Gold, Haute Gold, Matte Gold

The shades: I still adore the subtle shimmer of Haute Gold (there’s a reason why it won the 2014 ELLE Canada Beauty Grand Prix for Best Bronzer Under $30, you know), but the new shades are pretty great, too!

Dark Gold is an intense, metallic yellow-bronze. Haute Gold is ever so slightly redder, and has more of a shimmer finish. Matte Gold is the most sheer of the three, and is impressively close in tone to the others — it’s slightly more red and desaturated, but if you loved the original Zebra bronzer (Haute Gold), it’ll definitely still work for your skin tone.

Annabelle Biggy Zebra Bronzer swatches review

Annabelle Zebra Biggy Bronzer swatches: Dark Gold, Haute Gold, Matte Gold

BEST USED: Apply Haute Gold (for everyday wear) or Dark Gold (for a more metallic finish) to the cheekbones, collarbones, and décolletage to give a golden glow without looking like you’ve had an accident with the fake tanner.

Apply Matte Gold to subtly sculpt and bronze the face — lord knows it’s better for contouring than most of this season’s contouring launches.

Annabelle Cosmetics Haute Gold Biggy Bronzer review comparison

Annabelle Zebra Bronzers in Dark Gold, Haute Gold, and Matte Gold

The verdict?

At just over $10 apiece, these bronzers are some of my favourites — and not just from the drugstore. They’re one of those products that does all the work for you, blending out easily and imparting a really healthy-looking glow with almost no effort at all.

I love that Annabelle has expanded the Biggy Bronzing Powder shade range, but Haute Gold is still my favourite of the three. I recommend applying lightly all summer long with a large powder brush!

Availability: $11.95 CAD at Annabelle.ca and at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

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shu:palette review, swatches, photos | A shu uemura eyeshadow palette made just for Asian eyes

Saturday, June 6, 2015

shu uemura shu-palette review photos - 16 neutral eyeshadows

The product: shu:palette pressed eyeshadow palette

The palette: What makes the shu:palette special is that, unlike almost everything else available here, all 16 eyeshadows included in it have been specifically selected to work well on Asian skintones, which is — I mean, pretty darn exciting. (Plus, all of the application suggestions are designed to accent monolids, not disguise them!)

shu palette eyeshadow review

Included double-sided synthetic brush

The eyeshadows: I was very, very happy with the formulas here, as always. Yes, shu products are rather pricey, but you always get what you pay for — which is more than I can say for some other brands (ahem, MAC).

That said, I wish there were more light/medium shades in here. For some reason, it contains six highlighters, which seems a little excessive to me? Like, they’re all great, but… that’s a lot of highlighters in one palette.

Top row

shu palette swatches review shu uemura neutrals

shu:palette top row swatches – indirect sunlight; over primer

G beige 821 – A sparkling, transparent yellow gold glitter. (I do love the way shu uemura does their glitter eyeshadows — they’re wonderfully flaky and sparkly.)

M soft beige 814 – A sheer yellow nude; great for neutralizing any lid redness.

ME light beige 825 – A beautiful, peachy metallic shade.

ME medium brown 856 – Taupe lovers, unite! This is a gorgeously buttery taupe with a warm red base and a cool silver sheen. The more of this you apply, the cooler it will look (and vice-versa).

shu uemera palette swatches review

shu:palette top row swatches – indirect sunlight; over primer

M soft brown 851 – Matte camel brown. (The texture of this one is just fantastic.) Not too warm, not to cool.

ME medium brown 862 – Metallic copper. Simple, but lovely!

IR light beige 811 – Medium-pigmented butter yellow frost.

IR dark blue 690 – Functionally, this one reads as a cold, satin-matte black — not a dark teal, as it appears in the pan.

shu uemura neutral eyeshadow palette review photos

Synthetic double sided brush (included). This is the point/liner end.

Bottom row

M light beige 813 – Matte bone shade with sparse microshimmer for depth (reads as a medium-sheer matte white.)

P soft beige 823 – A very pretty, sheer shimmer with a very fine particle size. Can lean either pink or yellow, depending on the light. I’m quite fond of this one!

S light beige 815 – Creamy, satin-finish light beige.

P light beige 822 – Peachy and medium-sheer with very fine, uniform shimmer.

shu palette swatches for asian eyes

shu:palette bottom row swatches – indirect sunlight; over primer

P medium brown 875 – Warm (orange, not red) brown with distinct gold shimmer and an absolutely gorgeous texture. (You can really see the gold shimmer in the swatches below).

M dark brown 895 – Dry matte brown with very good pigmentation. This one is actually very neutral/cool, and doesn’t warm up as it sheers out (which is a rare find!)

ME medium olive 471 – Cool grey with a strong metallic finish and green (!) undertones.

M black 990 – A very, very neutral, dry black. Good pigmentation, but not the blackest black to ever black.

shu palette swatches review 16 neutrals

shu:palette bottom row swatches – indirect sunlight; over primer

shu eyeshadow palette for asian eyes review

The verdict?

It took me a horrifyingly long time to test each and every one of these shades to finish my review, but if you can still get your hands on this palette, do. Each and every one of these eyeshadows is up to snuff, and with 16 full-sized pans, you’re only paying $6.56 per eyeshadow — which is less than a lot of drugstore eyeshadows out there, and far less than shu’s usual $19 CAD price tag.

The only thing that I’d change? I’d love to see a version 2.0 with more light-medium shades!

Availability: $105 CAD at shu uemura counters in Holt Renfrew.

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AERIN Waterlily Sun EdP review, photos | Or, how to bottle happiness

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Aerin perfume review - Waterlily Sun

The product: AERIN Waterlily Sun Eau de Parfum Spray

I first met Waterlily Sun on a hectic day in Toronto with Liz/Reductionista. (For that matter, that’s when I first met Liz, too. And yes, for the record, her hair is just as amazing in person.) We were at the Eaton Centre Sephora to sniff the Serge Lutens line, and upon finding out that almost all of their Lutens had to be sent back to the distributor due to water damage, we were wandering around…

And I came upon the AERIN range in person for the first time ever.

Aerin Waterlily Sun

The packaging: All of the AERIN perfumes look, like their namesake, like old money and flawlessly curated good taste. They come in thick, carefully cut glass bottles topped with gem-like stones (each in a soft, unique shade) and touched with gold accents, and are packaged in boxed with designs by Lee Jofa, a textiles/home decor company that has produced fabrics and carpets for everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Lilly Pulitzer.

Waterlily Sun looks exquisite in front of all of my La Collection de Grasse perfumes, but I can only imagine how perfect two or three of these would look together on a hammered-metal gold tray…

Aerin Waterlily Sun perfume review photos

Aerin jade Waterlily Sun review photos

The scent: I fell immediately in love with both Waterlily Sun and Lilac Path ($110 USD/$125 CAD by Richard Herpin, which smells just like passing by a lush lilac bush in a garden), but Waterlily Sun was the one that I had to go back for.

For a lack of a better descriptor, Waterlily Sun ($110 USD/$125 CAD by Annie Buzantian, Master Perfumer) smells like sunshine. It’s crisp and very light, and doesn’t smell like any one thing or flower or perfume in particular — its scent is, honestly, encapsulated perfectly in its name and packaging.

The story - Waterlily Sun is inspired by Aerin Lauder’s trip to Monet’s garden in Giverny, France as a young girl. It “inspires serenity and calmness with a floral watery scent that leads the senses to a warm and peaceful place. Like sunlight reflecting on water.”

Listed notes - Sicilian Bergamot and Lush Dewy Greens / Waterlily and Jasmine Sambac / Musk

Aerin Waterlily Sun review Eau de Parfum

The bergamot in this makes Waterlily Sun’s opening very lemony, like the perfect cold lemonade on a hot summer day in the garden. It’s balanced out very nicely with some crisp green notes (I usually find “green” to be too mulch-y, but I love it here) and a base of musky florals.

Like all light, citrusy fragrances, Waterlily Sun fades long before dinner, but I love it nonetheless. It’s reminiscent of something like Fresh Citron de Vigne ($88 USD/CAD), but with its bergamot opening and jasmine sambac heart, it smells far, far less generic.

Aerin Waterlily Sun EdP review

The verdict?

Waterlily Sun smells the way a bright summer day makes you feel; it smells like nothing in particular other than happiness. It has just the right amount of sillage and tenacity for warm weather, and it’s the kind of scent that makes you spritz, sniff, and sigh.

As far as light, citrusy scents go, Waterlily Sun is in a class of its own. It manages to be transparent and pleasant without ever becoming boring (even after months), and it smells, somehow, both effortless and complex at once.

Give this one a sniff — you won’t regret it. And hey, while you’re there, check out Lilac Path, too.

Availability: $110 USD/$125 CAD for 1.7 oz at select Nordstrom, Sephora, and Holt Renfrew locations.

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Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer review, swatches, photos | Beige Pop, Poppy Pop, & Fab Pop

Friday, May 29, 2015

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer lipstick review photos swatches

The product: Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer in 04 Beige Pop, 06 Poppy Pop, and 12 Fab Pop

New this spring from Clinique are sixteen Pop Lip Colour + Primers, which are designed to pair rich colour with a smoothing primer. They’re part of Clinique’s current strategy of releasing pretty, accessible products without any complicated steps, and just like the rest of the no-fuss products Clinique has released recently… these rock.

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer lipstick review

The formula: It’s been a long time since I fell in love with lipstick formula, but the Pop Lip Colour + Primers had me at hello. The formula is perfect: creamy and comforting without feeling too heavy, slippery, or drying, and absolutely packed with smooth, velvety pigment. These remind me a lot of the (mosly discontinued) Marcelle Rouge Vitality Lipsticks, AKA my favourite lipsticks ever — but the Clinique Pop lipsticks might just be even better.

Formulated with shea and murumuru butters and designed to provide “moisture maintenance” with a flexible polymer blend, these are one of the only lipsticks I’ve ever worn that don’t leave my lips crinkly and dry. They feel just as rich in texture as they are in colour, and on top of all that, the formula is totally scent-free.

Clinique Lip Pop Lip Colour + Primer swatches beige fab poppy

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer swatches in Beige Pop, Fab Pop, and Poppy Pop

image

A quick, messy iPhone shot of Fab Pop, filched from my Instagram — @thenotice

The shades: I tried three of the sixteen Clinique Pop shades, and surprisingly enough, Fab Pop was the one that I realy fell in love with. It’s bright and milky with lavender undertones, and really brightens up my face without looking like TOO MUCH (caps lock totally necessary.)

I wasn’t as crazy about Beige Pop, which is an objectively lovely medium-nude (I need a little less pink from my nude lipsticks to counteract my natural lip colour, unfortunately), and Poppy Pop wasn’t really for me, either — poppy reds make me look, for some reason, both flushed and yellow-toothed.

But Fab Pop – oh, my. What a shade.

Clinique Beige Pop lipstick primer review swatches

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Beige Pop

Clinique Fab Pop lipstick primer review swatches

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Fab Pop
Clinique Poppy Pop lipstick primer review swatches

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Poppy Pop

The verdict?

You need. You absolutely, totally, definitely need. I’ve been wearing Fab Pop bascially non-stop for the past two weeks, and it hasn’t lost its appeal by even a bit. (Plus, for once, my lips don’t feel stiff and dry when I’m wearing lipstick.)

The Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Prime formula is fast becoming one of my all-time favourites, and for anyone looking for creamy, luxurious, scent-free lipstick, these are totally it.

Availability: $18 USD/$21 CAD at Sephora, Clinique, and Nordstrom.

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Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo 01 review, swatches, photos + 156 Large Flat Brush

Friday, May 15, 2015

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo review

The product: Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige & 156 Large Flat Brush (Wavy)

This season, Make Up For Ever joins that insane contouring craze with their Pro Sculpting Duo, which they billet as an “undetectable face contour” and recommend using with their 156 brush (the Large Flat Brush or Flat Round Brush, depending on who you ask).

I think this pillow-topped, gel-powder formula is far from undetectable, but still worth checking out. It works well with both the 156 and the 150 brush that I love so much, and comes in two shades: 01 Pink Beige (“light with cool undertones”) and 02 ??? (tan with warm undertones).

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo Pink Beige review

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige review

The sculpting shade: I’m gonna start with the not-so-great stuff, which is to say: like many other contouring products I’ve tried this season, this one totally didn’t work for me. It leans quite orange and looked like an obvious bronzer against my complexion, and I’m not the only one. The best look that I’ve seen with 01 Pink Beige so far has been on Chelle, but even she found the contour shade in this duo to be more of a bronzer than a sculpting shade. (This duo–the highlighter especially–looks totally bangin’ on her, though!)

You can see her look here, but, well… take that into consideration when purchasing, because it’s not just me who was hoping for a much cooler contour out of this one.

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo 01 Light Pink swatches review

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige swatched heavily/lightly

MUFE Pro Sculpting gel duo review Light Pink

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige

The highlighter: Okay folks, THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT. I don’t love a really bold highlight most of the time, but this highlighter is gorgeous.

You can see individual sparkles from about 3 ft away under incandescent lighting (that’s so not “unbelievably natural,” MUFE), but it’s one of the (very) few highlighter shades that really pops against my fair complexion. Normally, highlighters look really shimmery on me, but are too dark or yellow to give more than a sheen — but this baby lifts the cheekbone right up. It’s still more shimmer than I want from day to day, but I’m smitten!

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo swatches review

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige swatches – contour & highlighter heavily/lightly Make Up For Ever contouring duo Flat Roung Brush review

THAT BRUSH, THOUGH: The 156 Large Flat/Flat Round Brush is insanely kitten-butt soft and relatively small, for a blush brush. It’s great for loosely applying a small amount of product and blending it out, and is extremely versatile — it’s great for blush, contour, and setting undereye concealer, plus it can easily handle setting powder and highlighter in a pinch.

And did I mention that it is so soft? I have at last count forcibly petted four people with zero interest in makeup with this brush, and all of them begrudgingly admitted that yes, it’s as soft as a kitten-butt Rae; please stop stroking my face with that. 

Make Up For Ever 156 brush review

Make Up For Ever 156 Flat Round Brush review

Make Up For Ever 156 Large Flat Brush review

Make Up For Ever 156 Large Flat Brush review

The verdict?

At $45 CAD, I think this Sculpting Duo can be skipped — unless you want it as a high-impact highlighter/bronzer duo, in which case, go for it.

For an invisible, high-def contour, this duo isn’t the product that you want. However, the highlighter is just gorgeous, and the brush is a total must-have. (Oh, this brush!) If you only have room in your life for one of these two, definitely invest in the brush instead!

Availability: $39 USD/$45 CAD for the sculpting duo; $37 USD/$43 CAD for the brush. Both permanent products available at Sephora and Make Up For Ever boutiques as of March 2015.

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