Liner Pens

Hail liquid eyeliner, especially newer versions of the liner marker/pen. I've been sticking to this easy, defining swipe over the upper lid for a couple of months now, and found some products that help things along.

I lusted after the ck Calvin Klein Electric Edge Liquid Eye Liner Marker Pen for weeks before locating at one of 2 Sephora stores that carry it (34th St. - was sold out; the other is in Union Square). I thought it would be easier to use than it is. This nicely designed pen is really like taking a Sharpie to your lids, just with a finer tip. This sounds ideal, but turns out not to be because the tip doesn't bend/flex enough as you move along your lid. Instead, you have to draw a line with the tip on its side if you want a smoother line, which leads to a thicker line. I don't like thick lines so early in the morning. At night, they're okay. I prefer thinner for day. A good buy if you prefer this method of lining, although the cost is steep ($16) compared to these drugstore versions: new Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eye Pen ($9.00), Styli-Style Liquid Liner 24 ($2.00) and fresh Minerals ($4.00).

I'm still working with the ck pen, but may instead opt for L'Oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner in Carbon Black. I previously reviewed the Limited Edition version in Defined by Plum, and am starting to think that overall, L'Oreal may have hit the nail on the head with this product. This is basically a wand with a soft, flexible tip - no brush, but also not a marker pen of the type described above. I had actually used up the Defined by Plum and was about to pick up the Carbon Black - picked up the wrong "black" and ended with another Limited Edition version with glitter in it. Seriously, who is still wearing such things?

Try the ck pen if you need a change but like the look of precisely applied liquid liner.


Black Radiance Eye Shadow Quartets

A while ago, I acquired a special holiday palette of eye shadows from The Balm and have overall enjoyed it immensely. At about the same time, I decided it would be fun to compare it with a drugstore version - you know, just for kicks. While this was semi-tough to do (drugstores often have really cheap, poor-quality palettes and kits out during the holiday season, none of which are appetizing), I did manage to find a collection of quads from the Black Radiance line which are surprisingly fun, easy to work with, and a little different from the usual drugstore fare.

I have 2 of the quartets - Deep Tapestry (blue/gray, deep purple, burgundy, and sand) and Desert Clay (shell, beige, gold, and brown). These shadows are surprisingly pigmented and soft, although their staying power is not the best. They blend easily and have the tiniest shimmer to them. What's fun about these quartets are the color combinations, particular Deep Tapestry - they are unusually sophisticated for drugstore line. Desert Clay is definitely a more basic quartet, and good to have for a quick fix although it's not as memorable. There are splashes of cool purples, greens, pinks, and blues in some of the other quartets, particularly Forest Sand, Blazing Beauty, and Retro Chic.

These are fun to play with if you're still in the experimental stages of eye makeup, and pretty dependable when you're not just playing around. At $4.00 each, you can't go wrong.

Tinted Moisturizer Trial #1: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheer SPF 30

I recently discovered Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and pretty much think it's a wonderful product. However, contrary to popular belief, and unlike most product junkies, I'm rather careful about abusing my wallet. At $42.00 for a 1.7 oz tube, I'm not sure how practical the LM Tinted Moisturizer is for me. Out of sheer laziness or perhaps a fear of running out and having to replace, I haven't actually used it very much. So I'm considering some less expensive alternatives and hope to exchange the LM for something more long-lasting and luxurious - perhaps a nice perfume for myself for Valentine's day since I'm spending it with my grandmother (yes - don't even bother asking).

Alternative #1 is Neutrogena Health Skin Glow Sheer (SPF 30) in Medium to Tan. This friendly little 1.1 oz tube is about $12.00 - pricey for a drugstore product but nowhere near $42.00. Compared to the LM, it has slightly less coverage and a stronger sunscreen scent. If you're looking for slightly more coverage, this probably isn't the best choice for you. In my case, the Neutrogena also gave the perfect base for a light dusting of powder. It's neither greasy nor drying, and doesn't flake in my usual problem areas.

I may be imagining it, but the LM seemed to have a "dewier" finish and slightly creamier formula than the Neutrogena, so I'm a little worried that the Neutrogena could end up drying my skin out in brutal Northeastern weather. I discovered after reading some other reviews that this could be due to the fact that the LM has mineral oil, while Neutrogena's is completely oil free. It might help to add a couple of drops of moisturizer to it if necessary.

This comes in about 6 different shades, which includes 1 bronzer (which I might pick up in the future), so I was skeptical about finding the right one for my skin tone. I lucked out and Medium to Tan is perfect. It helps that the formula is so sheer and can blend in easily.

I'm pretty impressed with this product, especially considering that I loathe buying face makeup from the drugstore. If you don't wear a lot of makeup but would like a little polish to your face, this is a a worthy alternative to more expensive and celebrated brands. And for half the price of 1 LM tinted moisturizer, you can get 2 - 1 for home, 1 for your makeup bag! :) Will keep you posted if there are any changes in opinion. Stay tuned for Trial #2 - it will mostly likely be Clinique Almost Makeup.


Sephora Lipsticks

I know, I know. This review will result in a resounding "I told you so," but I'll go ahead anyway.

I have never actually bought and used a Sephora brand lipstick, although I play with them often in the store and contemplate a purchase. As one might expect, some of the formulas just look too much to handle. The "Star" line of shimmer lipsticks is one such type. Trying to use up the last few dollars on a gift card, I bought 2 of these on an impulse and am still chewing over the results.

I purchased #16 Sienna Fiesta and #20 Fabulous Brown. I have to say that I was a bit surprised by these - they weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. The colors were both nice - Sienna Fiesta is a peachy brown while Fabulous Brown is a slightly deeper, mauve brown. They both give a tremendously dewey lip which could potentially be a hazard in broad daylight. When I wiped the color off my lip, glitter particles colonized my face. Sad, because I really did like these shades.

I'm having some lipstick trouble of late, right after getting rid of my Laura Mercier finds, and I'm disappointed. My one triumph has been a drugstore buy from Maybelline (Moisture Extreme in Sugared Bronze), and that's about it. Looking for some lip-inspiration...



Clearly, I am one when it comes to makeup. Since you're probably not surprised that I'm going a bit back on my word about some things, I'll just get right to it:

I'm no longer in possession of Laura Mercier lipsticks in Fresh Brown and Amaretto, or ck Calvin Klein's Glory lip gloss. After some soul-searching, bathroom cleaning, and others' input, I made myself return these. Since my lip color choices are usually neutral and safe, there was just no justification for the space these were occupying. Fresh Brown was replaced by Maybelline's Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Sugared Bronze, and I'm just as happy with it. I kept the ck Calvin Klein Pastel Gold lip gloss because it is a color and type I just don't have. My only other "good" gloss right now is a reddish bronze from MAC, and this is a good complement for a balanced and reliable, if tiny, selection. I'll splurge on a good lipstick for an awesome, hard-to-find color, not a neutral.

There is a Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer sitting in my bathroom counter, and so far, so good! It makes my face look more even and polished without feeling like makeup. As a moisturizer it leaves a soft glow, and is only slightly drying in already existing problem areas. Completely worth the money in most ways, but I have a nagging feeling that I can find something similar and less expensive. Suggestions are welcome.

There is also a beautiful Nars Bronzer/Blush duo (Orgasm/Laguna)alongside the tinted moisturizer, and it makes me so happy just to look at it. It is one of my more substantial buys yet, and I'm proud of it. This duo gives just the right amount color to my face, and with a little work I think I might get the contouring down, too. It's a foolproof addition to anyone's makeup routine, and while I'm still going to give it some time just to be sure, this one will probably be a keeper.

I have similar feelings about Smashbox eye shadow Trio in Smashbox.com. This trio consists of some basic neutrals - a pale but brightening yellow, a soft shell-pink, and a dark, matte brown. The quality of these shadows is wonderful (extremely soft and blendable), and any issues I'm having are more about technique than the product itself. I particularly love the yellow for the inner corner of the eye and on the brow. But my It's-so-basic-there-must-be-a-cheaper-version-out-there moment did force me to peruse the drugstore aisle to no avail. I might just stick with this one to make life easier.

All of these have been much less tricky to use than some of the other supposedly fantabulous things I have bought, and are much more effective - who could ask for more?

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