Friday, February 15, 2013

Sally Hansen Mermaid's Tale vs. Deborah Lippmann Across the Universe

That title is an insane mouthful, LOL.

As most of you undoubtedly know, Sally Hansen recently released an elusive—but permanent!—dupe of the very popular Deborah Lippmann Across the Universe.

AtU has been a looooong time lemming of mine, pretty much ever since it was released. However, up until recently, I could never justify plunking down $18 for a bottle of polish. (Oddly, paying the bills has actually made me more willing to spend money on ridiculously frivolous things... I mean, what's $20 for something that makes you happy vs. $600 for something you wish you didn't need? But that's an entirely separate conversation.)

Essence came out with a limited edition polish called Blue Addicted back in 2011, but I don't believe it ever reached North American shores. And unfortunately, I don't think any American drugstore brand has bothered to try and duplicate this particular shade, though Urban Outfitters has taken on several others, like Ray of Light and Lady Sings the Blues.

So when I heard about the Sally Hansen release, I was incredibly excited. Finally! Something accessible! Except... Well. Not really.

Apparently, Mermaid's Tale is currently only available in certain CVS and Target stores. I'd  been unable to find a bottle around me for months when I happened to see it at my local Target about 2 weeks ago. I snatched it up as quickly as I could and ran to the check-out line to make it mine.

I've been looking around online, trying to find actual side-by-side comparison shots of these two polishes, but I haven't been able to find any. Therefore, I ninja-ed my way down to Nordstrom and judiciously abused my tester privileges, as only a desperate beauty blogger would. (Speaking of which, apologies for all the tip-wear. This is what happens when your work hours coincide with the sun's.) The pic I posted above is the result. Can you tell which is which?

Here's a macro shot:

Left to Right: Across the Universe, Mermaid's Tale, Across the Universe, Mermaid's Tale
I've read a few reviews that say AtU has a darker base or more depth, but I disagree. The base colors look absolutely identical in shade, though MT's may be a little more opaque: They're both blackened jellies. Even the blue and green hexagonal glitter are the same.

What is different, however, is the small glitter. It's very hard to tell in the above photos, but AtU features a light turquoise glitter while SH features a royal blue one. Because the base is so dark, the shade of that small glitter can completely change the character of the overall polish. In extremely yellow lighting, for example, AtU flashes distinctly green while MT flashes distinctly blue. In direct sunlight, the MT base is much more subtle, since the royal blue glitter doesn't stand out nearly as much.

However, this is the kind of difference you can really only tell if you're looking directly at a comparison. If you were just wearing one polish or the other, I don't think you would know which was which at all. Unless, of course, you live for this kind of thing. :D

So which do I prefer? Personally, I would actually go with the Lippmann. I hate to say it, but the turquoise glitter does lend a much more distinct star-like effect, whereas the prettiness of the base gets kind of lost with the Sally Hansen. Formula-wise, I found them to be very similar. As with most jellies, they both take at least 3 or 4 coats in order to build up any semblance of opacity. For application, I prefer the SH brush, which is wide and is therefore much more deft at depositing color. On the other hand, the thinness of the DL brush allows for more control in placing the glitter, since you're forced to make multiple strokes in order to cover the nail.

Ultimately, I do think that these two polishes are one-or-the other: They're similar enough that you don't need both. But again, it all comes down to preference.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Maybelline EyeStudio Palettes in Forest Fury and Alluring Almond

I was going to type out the full name of both palettes in the title, but the names are SO. LONG. Has anyone else noticed this with drugstore products? Why are the names always enormous?! ): It makes everything so difficult to remember.

Anyway, since Walgreen's ran that 40% off Maybelline sale last week, and I still had a couple of $1 off coupons in my bag, I went ahead and grabbed both of these. The quint is one of the new Maybelline Color Explosion palettes in 15 Forest Fury. The quad is 200 Alluring Almond, one of the limited edition Color Plush palettes from this display.

Let's start with the quint.

When I saw these palettes, I was like, "YES ANOTHER ASIAN ONE," and I was right. XD The formula is very, very similar to the Color Plush shadows, which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing, depending on how much you like them. Looking at the palette, I thought it was really gorgeous, but when I swatched it today, I was less impressed... It comprises of a cream glitter, a deep forest green liner, an emerald green, a lime green, and a pale yellow highlight. Mostly, I don't understand the lime... It's so neon compared to everything else, LOL.

As I said, the formula is almost identical to the Color Plush quads. I will say that Forest Fury is slightly more pigmented than most of the CP palettes, but I don't know if that's just this quint or if there's actually a difference in formulation. The only real change is the addition of the glitter shade, which—in the tradition of many Asian eyeshadow palettes—is meant to be an overlay, not an actual lid color. I wasn't expecting to like it, since I'm not really into glitter, but I do have to say that it makes an excellent addition for a night out on the town. The glitter isn't too overpowering, but it'd still provides a lovely occasional sparkle in low-light conditions. It's also an easy way glitz your look up, which makes this palette a handy little day-to-night piece.

If you remember my post about this collection when it first came out, I was more interested in the brights. But alas, I've come to realize that I pretty much only wear boring work neutrals now, since I do work in an office. Some of the other girls come in with like rust red and electric blue on, but I'm pretty sure the general consensus is that it isn't very professional, so... Don't really want to chance it, hahaha.

Anyway, with this in mind, I decided to be good and pick up Alluring Almonds instead, and I have to say... I really, really like this quad. o.O I didn't expect to love it, especially since the colors look so boring, but it's that rare set where all four shades are total workhorses: The highlight is a champagne, the lid shade is a peach, the crease color is a taupe, and the liner is a brown. Amazing, am I right?!

So yes... I foresee grabbing a backup of this quad if I see them around on clearance shelves, but definitely, if you need something to stick in your purse for mornings, this is the one to get.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

NYC Flat Iron Green vs. NARS Zulu

LOL, you guys, I seem to start off every post with, "OMG I AM FAIL )))))):" so how about we just all assume that I'm fail forever going forward, y/y? :D


In July of last year, Gianna at Nouveau Cheap wrote a post on how NYC Flat Iron Green might be a dupe of NARS Zulu, which would be insane because, you know, the NARS is $17 and also limited edition and the NYC is $1.99 and available pretty much everywhere.

Well, I managed to get my hands on both, so I did a little experiment, and I come bearing the results...

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Similar, no? :D G, I envy your eagle eyes! Under indoor lighting, these two polishes are nearly indistinguishable. Can you guess what I'm wearing where in the pictures above?

Index and ring finger are Zulu, middle finger and pinky are Flat Iron Green. But even in person, it's extremely difficult to tell. There were times when I couldn't even remember what I had on which nail.

However, once I got out in direct sunlight, it was a completely different story:

(In the shade) NYC Flat Iron Green; NARS Zulu

(Direct sunlight) NYC Flat Iron Green; NARS Zulu.

Forgive the weirdness of the swatches, LOL, I took these mid-polish removal... But as you can see, Flat Iron Green has a mossy base whereas Zulu is a deep emerald. Similarly, even with three or more coats, the jelly finish of Zulu means that it will look green in direct sunlight, particularly at the tips of the nails where it takes on a translucent quality. Flat Iron Green, on the other hand, is a fairly straightforward creme, so it's more or less opaque in nature.

I also wanted to show you guys how these two polishes wore. The bottle swatch pics up above were taken about a week after first application, with Sally Hansen Continuous Treatment Base & Top Coat as a base and Seche Vite on top. In general, both polishes held out about the same, but Zulu was definitely the more fragile of the two. If you hit enlarge, you'll see a chunk of Zulu missing from the tip of my ring finger.

However, I would attribute the fragility more to the finish than the formula. Whereas Flat Iron Green is pretty much opaque in two coats, Zulu took a little more work. The thicker layers required, in addition to the soft nature of jellies, probably makes it a little more prone to cracking and breakage.

Just as an aside, I have to say that Zulu is completely worth the hype... I mean, I am a green fiend, so that's not really a subjective statement, but it's just so PRETTY. Flat Iron is lovely, too, but there's nothing quite like watching the sun play through the depths of the green in Zulu.

Overall, I think both polishes performed really well. I didn't really need to touch them up for almost two weeks, which never happens for me. If you love greens, I'd definitely recommend them both, especially since NYC Flat Iron Green is currently part of the CVS Beauty clearance sale, which means that it might be gone for good soon.

However, if you need to pick between them... Besides the obvious price difference, I'd say it depends on what you want. If you're just looking for a dark green, then the NYC serves very admirably. But if you want to jump on the bandwagon, then I personally think the NARS is worth every penny.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zooey D. (or so Rimmel tells me)

Except I can't recognize her at all.

No, seriously, who is that? Because the last time I checked, Zooey Deschanel looked more like this:

To a certain degree, I can understand Photoshopping and airbrushing and all that good stuff in cosmetics advertising campaigns, but Rimmel's Zooey campaign has thus far been ridiculous. I can't recognize her in any of their ads, but this one has to take the cake.

For one thing, didn't they hire her precisely because she's already adorable and quirky? On that note, didn't they pay some obscene amount of money for the right to use her face—the one that she's, you know, famous for—in conjunction with their products? So if they did indeed pay out a contract, then why aren't they actually using her face.

For another thing... I mean, let's be honest, okay. Is it just me, or does she look like a completely disproportionate freak show here? Isn't the point of Photoshopping to make someone look better? I'm so baffled as to why Rimmel paid someone (else!!!) to make an actress who is already good-looking look like a really bizarre mutant instead. Like, seriously, what was the point of moving her lips down 2 cm? Were they too human in the original picture or something?

I mean, I don't like photographic enhancement in advertisements, but I don't particularly mind them. It's marketing and photography, and I've messed around enough with my own camera to know that even without digital fiddling, there are plenty of things that can make something appear photogenic even when it isn't. I also understand that the ad's purpose is to sell a product, so exaggerating the awesome is a matter of course. (Although why anyone would want their eyelashes to be a bushy, obviously fake mess is beyond me...)

But this? I don't understand this. It's aesthetically not pleasing. I can't even remember what product this is supposed to sell, because I'm too distracted by the fact that she looks like an awkwardly painted doll who knows that someone screwed her face up and is stuck with a half-way pissed off smile for all eternity.

Look, Rimmel, I don't hate you. Actually, most of the time, I really like your products. But seriously, please either hire a better graphic artist who actually understands that famous endorsers should probably actually resemble themselves in the end product or pour that money into R&D instead, okay? For the sake of my retinas, if nothing else.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sleek Spring Collection: Avoir la pĂȘche

I was checking my email this morning when I saw Sleek's spread for their new spring collection, titled "Avoir la pĂȘche." It's French for "having the peach," an idiom that expresses being in high spirits (or so Google tells me, LOL). It's also a clever marketing pun since, as you can see, everything in this collection is peach-themed, so if you were to buy any of it, you would indeed be "having the peach." XD

In any case, I wanted to share this because a) the promo pic looks beautiful, and even though I just said one post ago that I don't like warm-toned make up, this image makes me want to rethink that statement yet again; and b) OMG THEY HAVE A BLUSH CALLED PAN TAO. HOW CUTE.

"Pan tao" is the Chinese name for the Saturn peach, which are native to cities in southern China. They're famous for both their sweet, juicy flavor and also their distinct, flat shape:

Adorable, am I right?? :D

So yes, I'm pretty excited to see a blush named after these, mostly because... of the name... XD;;;;;; Yeah, I know, it's sad, but I'm attracted to product names the way some people are attracted to pretty packaging. x.x But at least in this case, the color is fitting and also pretty. :P

This collection also features a Pout Polish in Sugar May, which looks like a peachy coral, and an iDivine palette in Paraguaya. Based on precedence, I'm guessing that the palette, at least, will be limited edition, though I'm not positive.

Worth the shipping for the haul? What do you think?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maybelline EyeStudio Color Plush Silk Eyeshadow

That's a mouthful of a name, isn't it, LOL?

(Top to bottom) 40 Green with Envy; 100 Sunset Seduction
Anyway, since I just posted about the new limited edition collection being released, I wanted to review the two that I already own: 

Green with Envy is my favorite between the two by far. Part of this is because I have an unhealthy obsession with greens, the way some people do with taupes. I never understand when people say green is hard to wear, because to me, there are so many shades!! So many options!!! So versatile and accommodating!! ):

On the flipside, I'm not a fan of warm eyeshadow at all. I've been told that bronze looks really good on me, but I actually really dislike how much it warms up my face and brings out the yellow undertones in my skin, because I strongly prefer looking icy and unapproachable. XD Also, warm colors tend to clash with my wardrobe, which consists of mostly classic Winter colors.

Anyway, I kept hearing that everyone can do any color, etc. etc., and there were coupons and a sale, so I grabbed Sunset Seduction to try it out. Clearly, it didn't really work out, LOL.

Beyond that, though, Green with Envy is more pigmented. It's more obvious when you look at the close up, but even the swatches for Sunset Seduction look sheer, whereas Green with Envy matches the pan pretty exactly. 

The formula for these shadows are creamy and almost glittery. They don't feel substantial the way some eyeshadows do, but trust me, one pat is more than enough. As Musings of a Muse mentioned eons ago when these were first released, these don't blend well. You just have to know where you want your colors to go and then pat them into place. 

...I think I just made it sound more complicated than it actually is, haha, sorry! What I mean is, for example, if you know you want the green in your outer-V, then just put it in your outer-V, on top of the champagne lid color. Don't try to blend everything out altogether, or it'll end up either wiping away or looking muddy.

Part of the problem with Sunset Seduction, for me, is that the pink and taupe don't contrast very well because they're both so sheer. So from the minute I put it on, it already looks muddy, because it doesn't look like there's any difference, but they also don't look distinctly pink or distinctly taupe. On the other hand, I'm also biased because both lid colors are on the paler end of the spectrum, and I generally prefer a little more depth and drama with my eyeshadow. I know that a lot of people really love this quad, so it really does come down to personal preference.

As countless people have said since these were first released, these quads are really a step up from the old school Maybelline formula. I can't comment on how it compares anymore, since the regular formula has also been updated, and I haven't tried any of those yet. However, I feel safe saying that these are pretty solid investments, if you like something shimmery and lightweight. 

New LE Maybelline Collection

You guys, the day I have been waiting for has arrived.

Maybelline has released new Color Plush quads.

I love these quads a lot. They're not the most pigmented formula around, but sometimes, a girl just needs some shimmery pretty in her life (or on her eyes, whichever). Furthermore, I can usually find a quad where I like all four colors.

I can't explain how excited I am to finally see new colors... I am totally one of those annoying people who always wants MOAR NEW THINGS NAO PLZ, and Maybelline is delivering! :D

Here's what I saw in my display:

These are all the names I can read from my crappy phone pics:

Marbleized Eyeshadow duos
- 10 Lavender Legend (item number corresponds to Lawless Lavender in the permanent collection)
- 70 Impulsive Ivy (item number corresponds to Ivy Icon in the permanent collection)

Cream Eyeshadow trios
- 20 Purple Prodigy
- 25 Nude Attitude
- 100 Mysterious Moss

Color Plush quads
- 201 Ravishing Rose
- 200 Alluring Almond
- 202 Mythical Mermaid
- 30 Virtually Violet

For Lasting Drama gel liner fans, there's also a limited edition dark green called Forest.

I don't know about you, but Forest, Alluring Almond, and Mythical Mermaid are calling my name. Loudly. @.@ How about you guys?

(Sorry about the blanks in the names... Gaps in my memory, you know how it is. :) Next time I see this display, I'll be sure to fill them in here!)