Type your summary hereType rest of the post here
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Sometimes, after experimenting with new choices, it's best to go back to old standbys. Though I love trying out the new brands on the market--AWAKE, Napoleon Perdis, InsertHotMakeupBrandHere--I'm reminded every so often that the reason such brands as Estée Lauder are still around is that they make really quality products. I've almost never been disappointed by an Estée Lauder lipstick, and been very surprised by several as to their high quality and lasting nature. Here's a look at one of Estée's more recent line changes, the "Electric Intense" lipsticks, in color #726, "Fury".
The short version: The name's right on--this is a bright, furious red. It's electric, intense, long-lasting, and darned attractive to boot.
Candidate: Estée Lauder Electric Intense Lip Créme, #726 (Fury)
Purchased: Gloss.com Presented by Estée Lauder and the House of Chanel
Brand Info: Estée Lauder Cosmetics, Inc.
Founded in 1946 by Joseph and Estée Lauder, the company that would eventually become a US$5B corporation started out with only four products: "super rich all-purpose cream", "cream pack", cleansing oil, and skin lotion. Two years later, they established their first presence at a department store, Saks Fifth Avenue, in New York. The company expanded and went international in 1960, then diversified into a number of specialized brands--Aramis for men, Clinique for specialized skin care, Prescriptives for custom-blend colors, etc.--and purchased others, such as M-A-C and Bobbi Brown. But Estée Lauder maintains its own brand of foundation, lipstick, face makeup, skin care, and a huge range of perfumes.
The Tube: Rectangular. Blue lacquer plastic, with a gold-toned corner of the column that extends from top to bottom on the right front edge. The interior tube is metallic gold. On the bottom is a gold sticker with black print with lots of small print, but the color name and color code number are in good-sized print in the center of the sticker.
The Product: True Red, as red as red gets. The lipstick itself appears almost matte, with a teardrop-shaped delivery point (and a slight concave edge...#sigh#).
The Application: Incredibly smooth. The product name isn't misleading--it goes on Electric Intense in its coloring. Only problem is the slightly concaved edge on the delivery tip sometimes colors outside the lip lines. Color is cherry red, a nice change from what I expected (colors named for fiery things like "Fury" sometimes go on more orange than cherry).
The Taste: Figs. I happen to really love the taste of fig preserves--my paternal grandmother had a fig tree in her backyard and she made "mock strawberry preserves" using figs and strawberry jello, and to this date I still think it's the best jelly I've every had--so I have a special affinity to Estée Lauder's lip products, since they all smell and taste like figs. My mother, OTOH, hates figs, so she gives me all the EL lipsticks she gets in GWP assortments.
The Blot: Bold, bright, cherry red. A second blot is also strong.
The Wear: One of the few things I didn't like about this lipstick was that it does tend to come off easily after application, and you end up staining your fingers if you're eating finger food. Worse, it has a tendency to smear until it sets up, meaning if you wipe off a smudge near your lips, sometimes another smudge gets left behind if your tissue touches the lips while smudging. However, once you've blotted enough to take off the loose coloration, the remaining lipstick has a good 2-3 hour wear time, and because the color is so bright, it gives the lips a bit of a stain so that the wear-down isn't as noticeable.
The Verdict: Not perfect, but pretty darn great. And I love a great red lipstick.
When purchasing Christmas gifts, I usually tried to take advantage of sales going on to pick up brands of cosmetics I might not have tried previously. Such was the case in this purchase, a gift-boxed collection of AWAKE Cosmetics' Stardom Color series. The box, a fiberboard box with a slab of cedar in the base, covered with metallic red and silver cardstock covering and light padding, with a sheet of etched plexiglass (with the AWAKE logo, an unfurling fern leaf) in the lid. The box is gorgeous. The items in it are quite pretty, though rather small, even for samples. In the sample selection is a tube of AWAKE's Lip Gloss Brilliance in "Fairly Pink".
The short version: Don't bother. Pretty exterior, lacking product.
Candidate: AWAKE Lip Gloss Brilliance Stardom (Fairly Pink)
Purchased: The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc.
Brand Info: AWAKE by KOSE America, Inc.
A leading cosmetic company in Japan and the creator of the AWAKE brand, KOSE has been pioneering cosmetics and skin care products in Japan since 1946 and has grown to become the third largest cosmetics company in Japan. With its roots as an established brand in Japan, AWAKE launched in the U.S. in 1997 at Henri Bendel in New York. The brand has since opened up in prestige department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, specialty stores Bath & Body Works and C.O. Bigelows, and is also available on beauty websites including NeimanMarcus.com and Beauty.com.
The Tube: Clear PETE plastic, pinch-sealed at the end like a standard tube of toothpaste (or inexpensive lip glosses). Metallic red screw-on lid covers a molded plastic delivery point, again like inexpensive lip glosses. Print on the tube is silver, which makes it very hard to read when the product inside is a pearlized silver/white pink.
The Product: Pearlized pale pink in color. Also looks to be filled with shimmering pigments.
The Application: Wow. Goes on heavy, gloppy, slick. Smells like cedar or pine, and I can't tell if that's the product itself or an artifact from the interior of the box having that same aroma. Once it's smoothed out, it becomes sheer with a little bit of shimmer; not much color at all.
The Taste: Cedar/pine. It's somewhat harsh and very unexpected. I've read elsewhere that AWAKE tastes strongly of "botanicals" (code for "tastes like grass or plants"), but this was not what I expected to taste.
The Blot: Colorless blot (a tiny bit of the pale pink color shows up on the tissue).
The Wear: Gets stickier the longer it's on. Fortunately, that won't be long; it's gone rapidly when you eat, drink, lick lips, etc.
The Verdict: Seriously, don't bother, unless you like sticky pine tar on your lips.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I've become something of a lipstick snob during this hunting process, I'll admit. I miss the old days when I thought of "lipstick" as just something you pick up in aisle 15 along with the rest of the health/beauty supplies. There are some great lipsticks in the aisles of Target, Walmart, grocery stores, etc. But most of them can't hold a candle to their counterparts at department stores.
Case in point: This quintet from Maybelline New York. They're not bad lipsticks, but they're also not good lipsticks, and for the money I spent to buy these five tubes, I could have gotten a tube or two of my favorite M-A-C colors. I remember wearing Maybelline as a kid. But I don't remember the heavy cucumber taste or the distinct lack of appreciable weartime.
Anyway, onto the reviews...
Candidate #1: Maybelline New York Moisture Extreme Lipcolor, #190 (Royal Red)
Purchased: Target (Arlington, VA)
Candidate #2: Maybelline New York Moisture Extreme Lipcolor, #215 (Midnight Red)
Purchased: Wegman's (Dulles, VA)
Candidate #3: Maybelline New York Moisture Extreme Lipcolor, #360 (Cherry Brown)
Purchased: Wegman's (Dulles, VA)
Candidate #4: Maybelline New York Wet Shine Diamonds Liquid, #30 (Plum Solitaire)
Purchased: Big Lots (Sterling, VA)
Candidate: Maybelline New York Wet Shine Diamonds Liquid, #50 (Mauvey Rock)
Purchased: Big Lots (Sterling, VA)
Brand Info: Maybelline New York, Inc.
Founded as a mail order business in 1915 by Chicago businessman T.L. Williams, who had created a mascara for his sister Mabel two years earlier, Maybelline (a combination of "Mabel" and "Vaseline") soon became one of the early success stories in the cosmetics industry. By 1920, the company was selling eyeshadow and added eyeliner to its list of products in 1930. By 1932, Maybelline had expanded to retail stores and grew into a nationwide company. With the invention of the first mass-market automatic mascara (that is, premoistened in a tube with an embedded brush), Ultra Lash, in the 1960s, Maybelline had hit the big time and was bought by Plough, Inc. (later Schering-Plough) in Memphis, TN. The company remained headquartered in the Memphis/Little Rock area until it was sold by its next owners, Wasserstein Perella, in 1996; its headquarters moved to New York City and the company took on the brand name "Maybelline New York". Celebrities such as Lynda Carter, Christy Turlington, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Zhang Ziyi, and Kristin Davis have appeared in Maybelline ads through the years. Today, Maybelline is a part of the L'Oréal group, along with a number of supermarket and department store cosmetic brands, making L'Oréal the largest conglomerate in the cosmetic marketplace.
The Tubes: The "Moisture Extreme" lipsticks come in a pearlized burgundy plastic tube, with a chrome ring at the midpoint join, and an odd curved top almost like a saddleback to the lid of the tube. On the bottom of each tube is a sticker whose color approximates the color of the lipstick inside, upon which appears white print ringing the color number and color name ("Maybelline" on the top of the ring, "Maybelline LLC, New York, NY 10017 U.S.A." on the bottom of the ring). The "We Slick Diamonds Liquid" tubes are clear PETE plastic content holders with chrome tops to act as a handle for the applicator; each takes up approximately half the length of the top itself. The clear tubes are printed in silver writing with the name of the product; on the bottom of the tube is a clear sticker with the tiniest white print bearing the name of the product and the manufacturer's name in a ring, and the color number and name inside the ring of text.
The Products: Royal Red looks true red. Midnight Red looks burgundy. Cherry Brown looks like a cherry coca-cola. So far, so good. However, "Plum Solitaire" looks like hot pink bubble gum with a ton of glitter dumped into it, and "Mauvey Rock" looks like a dusty rose paste also with a ton of glitter dumped into it. Somebody working the "Wet Slicks" department needs to take color ID 101.
The Application: The three lipsticks go on really smooth and really dense in pigment, but they have concave tips, and I don't think I need to go there again. The two lip glosses have doe-foot sponge applicators that hardly hold any pigment at all--seriously, just the tiniest dot remains even after you dip and swab hard against the side of the product reservoirs. And don't even try putting them on top of existing lipsticks; the undercoat will smear and get stuck to the wand, and you'll hardly get any gloss at all. HATE.
The Taste: The lipsticks taste like cucumbers. If you like that, great. I don't. The Wet Slicks have no taste, but they are gritty as all-get-out. Seriously, it's like rubbing fine-grain sand into your lips. HATE.
The Blot: Heavy, heavy blots. Royal Red turns tomato red on my lips, which is very disappointing. The lip glosses blot decently.
The Wear: Pigment from the lipsticks gets all over everything, especially your hands if you're eating finger food. Worse, if you sip from a bottle of water or coffee cup, you'll end up with a lip print that stays on the bottle and reprints itself onto your face when you take your next sip. The lipstick color does seem to hold on for a while, but only as a dye and not as a true lipstick cover. The lip glosses hold on a while longer, but start feeling tacky as well as gritty after a while.
The Verdict: Unless you like cucumber-flavored lipsticks or gritty lip gloss, my advice is to stay far, far away from these Maybelline products.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
When I first started my Hunt for the Perfect Lipstick, I mentioned I'd found my ideal foundation (M-A-C Studio Fix) and my ideal mascara (Urban Decay Skyscraper Mascara).
That said, I'm a major perfume junkie. Thank a very close friend of mine who was once fragrance department manager at a high-end department store for this addiction. Fragrances rule, and she kept me in supply until she changed jobs and now manages the Laura Mercier department at a DC-area Bloomingdales.
My first review in this new feature is a parfum by one of my favorite designers, Etienne Aigner's "Aigner Black for Women".
Candidate: Etienne Aigner's "Aigner Black for Women" (Etienne Aigner International)
Cost: $55.00 for 4.2 fluid ounces
Brand Info: Etienne Aigner International
Italian fashion designer Etienne Aigner, who designed a line of handbags used by Christian Dior and other 1950s European designers, launched his own business in 1959. Today, Etienne Aigner is synonymous with quality Italian leathers shoes, gloves, handbags, and more.
The Bottle: Short oval black glass bottle, large oval top with gold rim and black leather insert with "Aigner" on the lid. Remove the lid to spray the parfum
The Fragrant Notes: Incense, Mandarin, Vanilla, Rose (Damascone), Musk (black), Leather (Cashmere). An intense blend of scents that's not for everyone.
The Application: Goes on bold and strong. Warms up well. Last hours.
The Wear: The florals and vanilla keep the fragrance from turning sour, the opposite of many fruit-based fragrances. Also, you just can't go wrong with Damascone Rose Water.
The Verdict: Really for winter, feels "heavy" and probably would not work in the spring. That said, it's well worth a try if you're into Vanilla, Rose, and Musk.
Monday, December 03, 2007
O.K., this is clearly just a frivolous purchase. But they're warm in winter, so they're worth it.
(That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
Victoria's Secret has a sale going on with their flannel pajamas.
I know. Victoria's Secret and flannel PJs. The two don't mesh.
Or do they?
Behold, the VS flannel PJs for the lipstick queen in all of us.
When I got them, I only had one question: Where can I find the navy blue lipstick that's left its lip print on my PJs? I have every other color.
Trust me, the model in them on the page looks far better than I do in them. But I still love them.
I'll admit it. I get fooled by online advertising too sometimes. I buy stuff that I look at and say, "Now, wait, that's not what the description said it was..." all the time. Case in point: Three lip glosses from Avon's "Flavor Savers" series. I bought them even though their tube looked just like a Chap-Stick tube.
(Side note: Growing up, we didn't use Chap-Stick in my house. My mother was an Avon Lady for a while, and she got addicted to Avon's Care Deeply Lip Balm; when she left Avon, she still would make a mass purchase of Care Deeply once a year, and we got several tubes in our Christmas stockings. I got addicted, too. I also found it made an excellent cork grease for my clarinet as I went through college on a band scholarship.)
Anyway, the lip glosses. Avon's lip gloss tubes tend to be small anyway and look like lip balm tubes with their tops on, so I figured this was just another example, and I ordered them.
I got...three flavored lip balms.
After my initial "Wow, you're really dumb" self-chastisement, I actually tried them.
No, they're not lip glosses, not by a long shot. That said, they're darned good lip balms, and a better choice than any flavored balm out there.
Candidate #1: Avon Flavor Savers Lip Gloss, #255221 (Strawberry)
Purchased: Avon Products, Inc.
Candidate #2: Avon Flavor Savers Lip Gloss, #256202 (Cherry)
Purchased: Avon Products, Inc.
Candidate #3: Avon Flavor Savers Lip Gloss, #256274 (Bubble Gum)
Purchased: Avon Products, Inc.
Brand Info: Avon Products, Inc.
Founded in 1886 by then 28-year-old David H. McConnell as the California Perfume Company (CPC) in New York City in a 500 square foot manufacturing and shipping office on Chambers Street, Avon revolutionized cosmetic sale and distribution, growing to a $2M business in 1918, thanks to an innovated marketing technique: The "Avon Lady", a woman who would go door-to-door in neighborhoods, allowing customers to check out and try new makeup in the privacy of their own home. Today, Avon is a $8.1B worldwide company, selling cosmetics, clothing, toys, and other items that allow them to sell their products to men and women of all ages.
(Side note again: My mother was an Avon Lady in the late 1960s, and my first lipsticks were from my mother's old Avon lipstick sample box, tiny bullet-shaped lipsticks in a potpourri of colors. I eventually melted a lot of them down to custom-blend my own lipstick, my first experiments with color mixing.)
The Tube: Sheer plastic Chap-Stick tubes with pink and purple labels, bearing the name of the color/flavor in English and French. Really. These may be called "lip glosses", but they're little more than flavored lip balms with barely a hint of sheer color. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but a little truth in labeling would have been nice.
The Product: #1 looks like creamy strawberry chiffon; #2 is a cherry candy color; #3 is bubble gum pink. Pleasant colors, but again it's obvious they're merely colored/flavored lip balms.
The Application: Chap-Stick application; creamy lipstick smooth. No tapered tops, no fancy applicators; open the tube and smear it across your lips just like Chap-Stick. Goes on very sheer with only a hint of any color whatsoever.
The Taste: Here's where the superiority of Avon's lip balm products to Chap-Stick lies: The tastes are magnificent. You can actually taste strawberry candy, cherry kool-aid, super-sweet bubble gum.
The Blot: What blot? Seriously, you'd blot lip balm? O.K., yes, I blotted it, and there's no color in the blot at all.
The Wear: They serve their purpose (that is, they last about as long as a Chap-Stick application). Don't count on a lot of wear from these, but at under a dollar a tube, you can afford to reapply as often as you need to.
The Verdict: After I got over the mislabeling issue--seriously, these are not lip glosses, not by any stretch of the imagination--I fell in love and have re-purchased them 3 or 4 times since to fill my purse for the winter. Again, at under $1 a tube, it's cheaper than just about any lip balm out there and works very well.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I have pretty much reached the conclusion that M-A-C is cornering the market on near-perfect lip products. Here's a review of two new M-A-C products I received today. One is from M-A-C's lipglass line (a semi-opaque lipgloss), "Russian Red", and the other is from their lip lacquer line ("Fanplastico").
Short version: These are two of M-A-C's greatest lip products, and two of the reasons I'm starting to like lipgloss again.
Candidate #1: M-A-C Lip Lacquer, #AA6 (Fanplastico)
Candidate: M-A-C Tinted Lipglass, #AB6 (Russian Red)
Brand Info: M-A-C Cosmetics, Inc.
Founded in 1985 by Frank Toskan (a Canadian photographer and makeup artist) and Frank Angelo (Canadian salon owner), a pair of men in the fashion business who shared a frustration with the quality of cosmetics available to customers and even noted major weaknesses in so-called "professional" cosmetics that didn't hold up under bright lights, hot sets, TV appearances, etc. Together with Toskan's brother-in-law, chemist Vic Casale, the three men began designing a new line of high-pigment and long-wearing cosmetics for "All ages, all races, all sexes" (the company's first motto) called "Makeup Art Cosmetics", a line that would later grow into the fashion industry product of choice. (It's a dirty little secret that most celebrities and models who appear on magazine covers wear M-A-C cosmetics, even if another name, such as the brand said spokesmodel/celeb is supposed to be promoting, is credited.) M-A-C was bought by Estee Lauder Cosmetics, Inc., in 1994, and today M-A-C is the "fashionista/edgy" arm of ELC.
M-A-C's lipsticks are mostly wax-based, making them far more durable than the petroleum jelly/lanolin/water/touch-of-paraffin lipsticks other companies make. They also come in over 160 colors and 11 formulas:
M-A-C also has an extensive lipgloss line, collectively known as "Lipglass", to accent and augment their lipstick line. Their lipglosses come in over 130 colors and 8 formulas:
The Tube: Both products come in clear tubes with black applicator lids. The company name and the name of the product are printed in black on the tube. At the bottom of each tube is a silver sticker with the company name ("Makeup Art Cosmetics, Inc."), the product name, and the product identification code in black print. The tinted lipglass tube is a good 3/4" shorter than the lacquer tube.
The Product: Russian Red is a bright cherry red, about as cherry red as cherry red gets. Fanplastico is a darker version of the same red, slightly lighter than what is commonly called "black cherry".
The Application: Russian Red has a traditional sponge-tipped doefoot applicator; Fanplastico has my favorite lip product applicator ever, the mini-brush. Both products cover extremely well; even the doefoot applicator supplies good color. Both products are thicker than one would expect from even liquid lipstick; I could almost get away with wearing Russian Red solo instead of over lipstick. Colors are true to their look in the tube.
The Taste: Most M-A-C lip products taste like vanilla sugar, and these are no exception.
The Blot: Like most glosses/liquid lip products, let these sit about 20-30 secs. before blotting. After that, the blot is true to color, and only the first blot is heavy.
The Wear: Excellent. Applied both products around 2300; it's 0115 here and they're still on and still look good. That said, I haven't done much eating and only a little sipping from a water glass, so YMMV.
The Verdict: If M-A-C made a lacquer line that was comparable with their lipstick line in terms of sheer color volume, I'd pronounce this hunt to be "Game over, drive home safely". As is, Fanplastico is an excellent darker red color and deserves a place in your makeup case if you like darker reds. As for Russian Red Lipglass, I'm definitely keeping it for the covering of my winning red lipstick, whichever it happens to be.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Makeup is fun. Applying it can be time-consuming, especially when trying to get ready to go out into the daily workforce. I have my makeup routine down under five minutes, with only three steps.
Step 1: Put on mascara first. Most makeup wearers, when they first learned to apply makeup, did whatever the person who taught them did, and most professional makeup artists put mascara on after applying practically everything else. I've run into makeup guides purported to be for the average makeup wearer that have mascara on the list as #7 out of ten (?!?) steps. Trust me, I have made every single mistake you can make in learning to apply makeup, and none are more damaging than getting spots of mascara all over the smoky eye layers of eyeshadow you've just spent five minutes putting in just the right place. Not only do you have to take off all your eye makeup on that eye to fix the problem, you've now just wasted five minutes of your precious time (and everybody's time is precious these days). By applying mascara first, you're still working on a blank slate and thus any mistakes can be easily fixed. For a daytime look, you only need one coat of mascara on the top lashes only, and it takes about 30 seconds per eye. Give your mascara a quick blot by putting a tissue under each eye against the lower eyelid and giving two or three blinks.
Step 2: With a good powder brush or a cosmetic puff, brush on one coat of a powdered foundation or translucent face powder. Most powder foundations are enough to smooth out skin tones and give the face a lightly-airbrushed look. My favorite powder foundation is M-A-C Cosmetics' Studio Fix. For problem areas (undereye circles, acne), wet down either a small makeup brush or the tip of a cosmetic sponge, shake off or wring out the excess water, then use the damp applicator to spot-apply a heavier coat in areas that need it. Brushing on the powder takes 30-45 seconds, maybe 60 if you need spot touch-ups. (I brush on in a "Letter T" pattern--two swipes across the forehead and eyes, one swipe down the center of the face--then around my jawbone, across my cheeks, and finally give nose, chin, and lips one or two swipes each to make sure to cover them. Dark circles under my eyes get a bit of a light gold or yellow concealer powder (or my powdered foundation, if I don't have my full makeup kit with me) applied with a damp brush to neutralize the blue/purple skin, then the touched-up areas get another pass with the dry brush to help hide the concealer.)
Step 3: Apply lipstick. I use lipliner first, but a lot of makeup artists are now switching to applying lipliner last to conceal any flaws or to make a hard edge to keep the lipstick from feathering. (Laura Mercier Cosmetics makes a "nude" liner designed to be used to define the edge of the lips, and it is usually applied after lipstick goes on.) Some makeup artists use a lip primer to help the lipstick adhere to the lips better before applying lipstick; if you use a color correcting lip product, it too should be applied before applying the primary shade. I apply one coat of lipstick and blot it twice. If you like lip gloss atop your lipstick, make it the last thing you put on, and allow it time (15-20 seconds) to set up before blotting or applying a finishing powder over it. This entire step takes anywhere from 30-60 seconds.
Voila, your everyday makeup application is done in about 3-5 minutes. I like to use Marutake Rice Powder as a final coat to seal everything; this step can be skipped, or substitute a quick touchup with a bronzing powder on the cheek apples, the tip of the nose, the tip of the chin, and across both eyebrows to bring light-play to areas where lights would naturally hit first.
Notice what I don't use: Eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush. I hardly every use eyeshadow or eyeliner any more and use blush only occasionally. In the daytime, I feel overly made up with eyeshadow and eyeliner; a good coat of mascara can do wonders to make eyes stand out without applying more and more color to the lids. I use a bronzer or an illuminating powder in place of blush in the daytime to make the skin look brighter and sunnier without adding color. There's an old adage that the best makeup jobs look like you're not wearing makeup at all, and I've learned to appreciate that adage in my latter years.
YMMV, of course.