Sunday, July 31, 2011

Preview: NARS Grand Palais and Outremer

NARS Grand Palais duo eyeshadow and Outremer eyeshadow single
Here's a quick taste of what's to come on the blog. I've finished snapping and swatching away, and all that's left is to write. Phew. This photo is an experimental shot that I loved because of the geometric motifs =).

Love, Dovey.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NARS Matto Grosso Nail Polish

         NARS Matto Grosso nail polish followed me home during the Nordstrom Anniversary sale this month. Karlasugar's description of Matto Grosso as "an impossibly rich, dark chocolate creme" is so accurate that I don't feel the need to expand upon it. The color is so rich, dark, and decadent. It's a classy, yet still edgy alternative to black polish, which has a tendency to look harsh, and well, goth. I didn't have a dark brown in my stash, and had been considering some of the OPI Touring America dark browns for this fall. Matto Grosso, however, stole my heart because its impossibly dark, blackened color. Most other browns would look a dirty against my skin tone.

          During my initial assessment, I mentioned that the formula of Matto Grosso had an unpleasant gunky consistency, which was disappointing. I'm pleased to report, however, that the texture is improving. I don't know how to explain it, however I guessed it might happen. I noticed previously that my newly opened Vestale nail polish seemed a more difficult than the in-store tester. Maybe it has something to do with exposure to air.  The formula, however still isn't anywhere near as smooth as OPI.  Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised at the improvement. You can see that my self-manicure is up to par with my normal self-manis; I didn't have to clean up at all. The thick formula does require more concentration and patience, but it's not so bad.

          Despite subpar application, there are major pluses that may outweigh the difficulties: dry time and shine. I noticed that the dry time of the NARS formula is fast. Really fast relative to OPI. Usually with OPI I have to be careful for a good 20 minutes; even if OPI cremes are "dry", the polish will scratch or smudge given slight pressure. I can't do anything manually involved for at least a couple hours after OPI, which drives me nuts. Even then, I can still get duvet marks and accumulate slight scratches over the surface within the next day. NARS polish dries fast, and becomes resistant to these teeny scratch-and-imprint insults immediately. The polish, therefore stays shiny for a long term, and I can go about my normal routine without fear of ruining a good mani/pedi. I don't need a top coat, which is great. Two coats does the trick. Perhaps the NARS formula is thick, because it's specially formulated for shine and quick drying. If so, I'll gladly purchase more NARS. These benefits outweight the formula issues.

          I haven't worn Matto Grosso much, since last I checked, it's still summer. I happened to wear it as a pedi the other day with my leopard print sandals. The combination was so awesome, I'll be sure to use it in the future, like with this leopard print cross-body purse.

Overall, I'm happy with Matto Gross and forsee more use in the autumn months. I love this 'vintage' purse too; I fished it out of my mom's forgotten stash somewhat recently. I'm not sure how many decades old it is, but it's fun to give old things new life.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my review and swatches of NARS Matto Grosso. More to come, as I went so nuts taking and processing photos today that I almost got sick of blogging. (Almost). Enjoy your weekends, the weather looked so beautiful today =).

Love, Dovey.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NARS Fall 2011 National Artist makeover

Face chart from NARS Fall 2011 makeover
          This weekend, I went to the Nordstrom launch event for the NARS Fall 2011 products. This was cause for serious excitement since I'd been anticipating it for months now. My must-have list must have been been made and remade a dozen times in preparation. Usually I prefer to order makeup online through Sephora, since I've had so many 'meh' experiences with different sales associates where either the makeover or the personalities rub me the wrong way. However at last week's Anniversary sale, I had a positive experience with one of the regular SA's, so I decided to give counters another chance. (Not to mention I'm a little jaded with Sephora's VIB program.)

          In this post I'm focusing on the look that Jennifer, a NARS national artist, made for me. I'll write out step-by-step instructions that you can try to recreate at home that features both Outremer and Grand Palais, from the fall collection. These colors look pretty intimidating in their pans, so I'm glad I had Jennifer (who has mad skills) there to help me out. I'll also share the goodies I picked up at the event, along with a few thoughts. More extensive swatches and review will be forthcoming after I take them on a brief test drive.

          First up are the products and their packaging. There's something so nice about having a stack of little black matching boxes, just waiting to be opened. It's kind of like Christmas.

Pretty packaging!

          The products. I picked up NARS Grand Palais eyeshadow duo, NARS Outremer eyeshadow single, and NARS Pago Pago lipstick which are new items from the Fall 2011 collection. I also took home NARS Sheer Glow foundation in Ceylan (Light 6) and the NARS Luxor Multiple. Here are brief thoughts on each:

1) NARS Grand Palais eyeshadow duo- A surprise winner, and possibly my new love. I would never have bought a rose shadow, since reddish tones aren't considered the best for eyes. However, this looks beautiful on me. Today I swept the silver-taupe all over the lid then the rose in the crease, and the result was a beautiful natural my-eyes-but-better look. The colors are sheer, as NARS duos are formulated to be, but I love sheer when it's done well like this.
2) NARS Outremer eyeshadow single- Stunning in the pan. I never would have thought to buy bright blue either, but I have a lot of faith in Mr. Nars. Blue is really a boon to brown-eyed girls. I realize now that I need more of it! For everyday, hints of Outremer can be used as liner. For fun, a blue-d out look (described below) can really make things interesting. The formula swatches poorly, and seems sheer, however with the proper technique, it can be quite stunning
3) NARS Pago Pago lipstick- A light lippie. These kinds of colors are basics for me.
4) NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Ceylan- I test drove the foundations for quite a while, and finally picked one up. I think it doesn't react too adversely with my super-sensitive skin, and it photographs very well.
5) NARS Luxor Multiple- I'm hoping to get away from powder blushes (sad) since they certainly make my skin react. This gives a gorgeous light pink glow. What a heavenly light pink color. I'm keeping all fingers crossed that my skin will let me get away with cream products for everyday.   

My picks from NARS Fall 2011
          My gift-with-purchase: a sample of NARS smudgeproof and eye makeup remover. These will definitely get used. I already had the current GWP, but the SA was super nice and found something I didn't have already. I'm running low on my current Clinique eye makeup remover and my UDPP is getting a bit thicker in the tube, so these came at a good time.

Gift with purchase
Finally, the tutorial.

Face chart with my new goodies

I asked Jennifer to do a look for me with Outremer that was all-out. I can do blue liner by myself anytime, so I wanted to take it to the max =P. I also asked her to use multiples or cream products for my face since I'm avoiding powder blush at the moment.

1) A fat warpaint-like stripe of Palm Beach Multiple below the cheekbone. Blend out with fingers
2) A fat stripe of Luxor multiple on and above the cheekbone. Blend out. Also blend in further inwards toward midline than you would with a normal blush since it's illuminating.
3) Sheer Glow Foundation in Stromboli all over, including on top of multiples. (Stromboli ooked fine in store, but way to dark in normal light).
4) Pat on more foundation using a concealer brush on problem spots.
5) Pat on finishing powder.
6) Apply more Luxor multiple on top of foundation to highlight.

1) Prime using Custard-Ginger concealer mix. The concealer is thicker and holds on to more pigment that a typical primer such as NARS smudgeproof. However it does tend to crease a little more over time.
2) Apply Outremer eyeshadow using a big fluffy round eyebrush. Pat it all over the lid. Yikes!
3) Take the Palm Beach multiple and press it into the outer edges, ie crease.
4) Take the charcoal side of Eurydice eyeshadow duo and blend into the middle part of the crease
5) Blend the rose side Grand Palais into the outer corner of the crease. This gives a really pretty plum look.
6) Blend the silver taupe of Grand Palais towards the inner part of the crease.
7) Take a damp flat edge synthetic liner brush and pack on Outremer eyeshadow as liner.
8) Lots of Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara
9) Fill in brows with Coconut Grove eyeshadow.

1) Belle du Jour velvet matte lip pencil.
2) Morocco Lip pencil.
3) Sandpiper Lip gloss.

Overall, it was a ridiculously awesome rendition of blue. Even if you don't have the Fall 2011 products, you could try this protocol with whatever blue, grey, charcoal and rose/plum tones you have in your collection.  For the lip, a plain light  lippie like Pago Pago is better matched than a glossy lip. (I think the artists feel obliged to use multiple layers of lip products). I proceeded to go grocery shopping with this club-like look, and admittedly felt a little silly. I'll try it for a night though! For a daytime look Grand Palais and Outremer can still pair quite well with roles reversed. Grand Palais in its subtlety is the star, and hints of Outremer liner spice things up.

Thanks for reading! I'm off to play with my new goodies.

Love, Dovey.

P.S. As I tweeted earlier, Nordstrom is supposedly set to have yet another NARS palette and polish set coming in August, with a Night Series theme. I don't know if there is too much of a good thing, but I feel like I just got my anniversary palette and Fall 2011 stuff.  Yipes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NARS artist stations

Here's some eye candy. How much would I love to have the laptop above, full of blush and eyeshadow?

Or the lucite caddies below crammed full with lip pencils, lipsticks, and foundation?

And there's also this cup'o'gloss.

Hope you're having great weekends! I'm working on a post that has more than five sentences. Also spent time chopping, cooking, stewing, and singing out loud to the Backstreet Boys. Remember them?

Love, Dovey.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tweety bird

I finally gone done it. Joined twitter. You can find me at @cuteandmundane.

At this point, I'm a complete newbie. I've figured out how to tweet, and I've figured out how to add a profile photo, but that's about it. After 30 agonizing minutes I think I figured out what #FF means. Can you feel my pain here? LOL. I'm excited about getting to know people through their tweets, but do cut me some slack if I can't figure out how to follow, respond, or some of these things in the beginning =P.

Love, Dovey

P.S. Feel free to leave any twitter wisdom here (Do's, Dont's, and the like). It's desperately needed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspired by Dusk

Inspired by Dusk
Last month I had the chance to visit Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, and Canyonlands national parks and the thing I was most struck by were the colors. Imagine warm red sandstone, lichen on a boulder, or ghostly cast of trees burned by fire then bleached by sun... Not to mention, in a forest full of fragrant pine, there are infinite renditions of taupe.

One combination I found particularly striking were the cool greys, blues, and browns in the Yellowstone forest at dusk. These colors have inspired my makeup as of late. I've been mixing browns with blue greys; it's an unexpected combination with a lot of depth on the eyes.  In this post, I'll share photos and swatches of the products I've been using to acheive my dusk-inspired look.

Dusk inspired eye products
I've been favoring blue-toned greys and cool browns in combination. Usually I lay down a light champagne or nude shadow and a blue toned grey. NARS Tzarine is a really beautiful duo that's perfect for this. Urban Decay Gunmetal is a stronger more pigmented grey that leans blue that I love using as well. Then I take a cool coffee brown like Urban Decay Darkhorse or NARS Coconut grove and blend up from the lashline. Alternatively brown can be a crease color. I line with either a grey liner, such as Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes in 21L and 22L, or a brown such as Bare Escentuals Big and Bright eyeliner in Cork, Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in expresso, and Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Whiskey, depending on how I feel. Sometimes I'll use grey on top and brown liner on the bottom lashline to make things interesting. Finally, I top with layers of NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara.

Light pinky-peach lippies and illuminator
A strong eye needs a delicate peachy pink or nude colored lip. Bobbi Brown Rich Lip color in Bare Pink really tones down my lips, though it sometimes washes me out if I'm not careful. Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Bare Pink is a really pretty nude pink that's darker and a little more natural. I'll add a dab of light peach lip gloss, such as NARS Lip Gloss in Greek Holiday and BUXOM lip gloss in amber. I use minimal cheek color, and only highlight with NARS Illuminator in Orgasm.

Side note: I'm more and more convinced that my skin reacts to powder blush and powder foundation, so I've been avoiding the two lately. However, a light peach blush or bronzer would look great here.

OPI Not Like the Moves (from the Katy Perry collection)
For my current pedi, I've chosen OPI Not like the movies (swatches here) which is really complex greyed duo-, no multi-chrome shimmer. It flashes purple, pink, and green.

Finally, the swatches.

Eye shadow and liner swatches; full sunlight
Lippie and Illuminator swatches; full sunlight
I hope you enjoyed my attempts to create a dusk-in-the-forest inspired look. I've been contemplating a look inspired by canyons and sandstone. We'll see if I can manage to scrape up some warm sandy colors. They seem to be trending right now judging from the new Bobbi Brown desert inspired tortoiseshell palettes and Laura Mercier's Canyon collection. Thanks for reading!

Love, Dovey

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NARS Bright Lights, Big City (Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2011)

NARS Vestale Nail Polish, NARS Matto Grosso Nail Polish, and NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette
          This weekend Nordstrom kicked off its Anniversary sale event. A sales associate once told me that Nordstrom moves more items during the Anniversary sale than any other season in the year, including the holidays. I'm not sure if this applies to cosmetics, or the entire store, however it certainly puts things into perspective. As you can imagine, I, like many, trotted downtown this weekend to pick up a few things at the NARS counter.

          I chose NARS Vestale nail polish, NARS Matto Grosso nail polish, and the NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette. I did not purchase the third nail polish color, Koh Lanta, however I have a finger swatch below. One thing I've noticed about the Nordstrom Anniversary sale cosmetics offerings is that they aren't the trendy offerings of the season. They tend to be good values with safer colors that can build a basic collection. This is the case with the NARS Bright Lights, Big City collection, if you compare it to the Fall 2011 collection which was also available in-store. Fall 2011 has bright blue eyeshadow and stormy grey-blue polish, while Anniversary has standard smoky eye colors and pink, brown, and purple polish. I've picked up only Anniversary sale items so far, because I'll attend a National Artist event next weekend to try the Fall 2011 products.

          This post has an overview of the products as well as initial thoughts, photos, and swatches. I'll try to post more in-depth reviews and comparisons after I've gotten more use out of them.

NARS Vestale nail polish, NARS Matto Grosso nail polish, and NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette
          First up are the NARS Matto Grosso and Vestale nail polishes. Lately I'd been craving a dark moody polish and a good nude color for pedis lately and my collection felt lacking. Somehow NARS read my mind and released these two beautiful colors. Matto Grosso is a the darkest, blackest brown creme possible. It's reminiscent of a molten dark dark chocolate. I love blackened browns, they have the same edgy character as black, however the color is less harsh and less goth. Vestale is a ballet pink (well described by KarlaSugar). It's a really beautiful opaque light nude pink. I've been looking for a color like this a while now. Most nudes tend to be too beige or too dark for my liking, while most pale pinks are too candy pink. No one does modern nuanced color as well as NARS.

          This was my first stint with NARS nail polish formula, so I didn't know what to expect. Unfortunately, I have to report that the formula on these two colors are less than ideal. NARS Matto Gross is the worse of the two. The texture is a little goopy/stringy and is therefore difficult to spread lengthwise on the nail. It's almost like trying to spread actual chocolate on your nails. The first coat looked horribly uneven, however the second coat made the color opaque and even. The application is a pain, however the final product looks beautiful, opaque and very glossy. The drying time is relatively quick, which is a plus. Vestale is a bit smoother, but still not as smooth as I'd prefer. It will require two thick coats or three thin coats. I think I got better application with the bottle in store, as compared to the bottle I bought. Perhaps the formula will become better over time, I will have to report back on this later.

EDIT: The formula does get better. See my later review here.

NARS Matto Grosso nail polish and Vestale nail polish swatches
          While I was in-store getting my makeup done, I made a few quick and dirty nail comparison swatches of the Fall 2011 and Anniversary nail polish colors. I wasn't planning on posting these originally, but I figured why not. You can see NARS Koh Lanta here, which is the third polish from Anniversary. It's a really beautiful dark plum purple. I only did one coat, however you can imagine that two would be much more even and beautiful. There are both distinct red and blue tones, kind of like a real plum. It looked really beautiful on my nail, however I just don't reach for purples, so I passed. NARS Galion is a dark grey-blue creme color from NARS Fall 2011. It's much darker than I'd imagined it to be. The blue tones almost seemed dark teal to me. It's no-where close to Sephora by OPI Break-a-Leg-Warmer, which is another blue-toned grey. I thought I would love Galion, because I love greys, however I wasn't really feeling it. I swatched NARS Vestale to compare with Sephora by OPI Nonfat Soy Half-Caff, another nude pink. Not even close, though it was the closest nude pink I saw at Sephora.

Comparison nail polish swatches for NARS Fall 2011 and Nordstrom Anniversary 2011
          Finally, here's the NARS Bright Lights, Big City eyeshadow palette, which is what I'm most excited about. The palette has six colors from the permanent line of single eyeshadows. This is a good deal, the cost of the palette is equivalent to three point something eyeshadow singles. I'm glad that NARS went with all permanent singles instead of mixing in single colors from duo eyeshadows. Do you know what I mean? I think duos were meant to stay as duos, and breaking them up doesn't make sense. This palette is best suited towards a smoky eye look. There are light/sheer colors in the top row and dark colors in the bottom row. There are no real medium tones here. Here's how the sales associate used this palette on me:

1) Prime the lid with NARS Smudgeproof eyeshadow primer.
2) Brush Cyprus over most of the lid as a base color.
3) Pat small amounts of Fathom on top of Cyprus. It's a sheer color, but adds a little sparkle and shine.
4) Blend in Night Clubbing from the lashline to make a smoke the colors.
5) Line eye with Night Breed.
6) Highlight corners or eyebrows with Biarritz.
7) Lots of Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara.

The colors and swatches are as follows:

1) Biarritz - Matte white. It's almost invisible on my swatch. It makes a good matte highlight color.
2) Cyprus- Shimmery light old gold beige. It's not unique, but a very wearable color that is really close to my current tanned skin tone. I'm sure it will show up more in winter when my skin is pale.
3) Fathom- a pale shimmery pink. The color is very sheer and doesn't read pink. It can be used to add sparkle to other shadows.
4) Night Clubbing- a golden black with multicolored shimmer. It reads mostly black in the swatch, however sheered out it has more interesting character. It reminds me somewhat of the golden black color of NARS Aguile Noir shadow pencil.
5) Coconut Grove- A blackened brown which I love. You can see my review here.
6) Night Breed- black with silver sparkles.

As a final note, you may notice that there's something different about my palette as opposed to normal palettes. Somehow Biarritz and Cyprus switched positions. I don't know if this is a common mistake throughout all the palettes, or it's just particular to mine. It's not a big issue; it just means the names on the back of the palette don't correspond accurately. Part of me wants to exchange it for a standard palette, however part of me is intrigued by the special character of my little palette. What would you do?

Thanks for reading! I can't wait to see posts or comments on what everyone's been getting from Nordstrom Anniversary. If you've picked up a little something, let me know, I'd love to hear.

Love, Dovey

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NARS Coconut Grove eyeshadow single

NARS Coconut Grove in full sunlight
Hot chocolate with a double shot of expresso. That's NARS Coconut Grove. It's such a rich, delicious, smooth, buttery, perfect color that's reached holy grail status. I love it so much, that I delayed posting because I was afraid I couldn't do it justice. Silly, but true.

Despite the summery name, NARS Coconut Grove is an eyeshadow single that was released as a part of the NARS Fall 2010 collection. It received stellar ratings from big time beauty bloggers, but I passed, because it was just another brown.  Fast forward to last spring. While google-ing the NARS summer collection, I came across Anne Hathaway's look to the premiere of Rio. She had these adorable glasses, which incidentally made her look bird like--- fitting for a animated movie about parrots, and NARS makeup. I loved the golden chocolatey look of her eyes, which were done with NARS Exotic Dance and Coconut Grove. And that's how I ended up with NARS Coconut Grove. Yes, sometimes I am that impressionable.

NARS Coconut Grove in sunlight; partially shaded by lid

 You can see from my various photos that Coconut grove is a very rich dark brown. It leans cool and looks cooler and blacker when indoors or in shade, while in direct sunlight it has the slightest hint of red-brown. Before I attempted my photos for review, I always considered it to be a cool black-brown, kind of like coffee beans. I was quite surprised when my photos showed an earthy brown. So keep this in mind! The true color base may be reflected in my sunlight pictures, however for practical purposes, the color will look like a rich cooler dark brown on the eyes.

The texture, pigmentation, and blendability ratings are all through the roof. This is why Coconut Grove is not just another dark brown shadow. Other brown shadows may have one or two of those attributes, but not the complete trifecta. When I touch my shadow brush to the pan, it kicks up just the right amount of shadow. Not too soft, not too hard. I like to use a small brush for blending in eyes since the pigment is so strong you could end up with very smoky eyes if you're not careful. This shadow blends so well with any shadow you've laid down under it. Darker liner shades are not usually designed for blending (since they're for lines), so this is surprisingly awesome. I'm partial to cooler colors, so I love blending this with just about anything to deepen a look. I've of course done a classic combo with the gold in Exotic Dance (like the Anne Hathaway look), but I often blend this brown with silvers and greys as well. The brown is cool enough to complement greys, and also adds an extra layer of complexity in that combination.

Oh, and on a side note, this Coconut Grove is my favorite eyebrow filler color as well. Plus, plus, plus, and plus.

NARS Coconut Grove in indirect sunlight
You can see that the surface of the pan is pretty beaten up. Despite heavy use, there's not chance I'll hit pan because it's too pigmented.

NARS Coconut Grove in full sunlight
I've always thought all dark browns are pretty close. In fact, I felt a little guilty ordering Coconut Grove because I figured it would be very similar to Bobbi Brown Expresso. But, fortunately I found that dark browns can be quite different. See below...

NARS Coconut Grove comparison products in strong sunlight
Here are my dark brown comparison swatches to NARS Coconut Grove. Please note that these were done in strong sunlight over a larger area; on the eye they're quite a bit darker and more intense.

I was actually quite surprised by the swatches. Coconut Grove always seemed quite dark and cool to me, however it's not nearly as dark or cool as Bobbi Brown Expresso and Bare Escentuals Smoky Quartz (a gift from Jeanie at Makeup Merriment!). Those two are more black-brown liner type colors, while Coconut grove is an exremely rich dark brown. Urban Decay Darkhorse, which is a shimmer, appears warmer than Coconut Grove. I've always considered Darkhorse to be a cool brown, so this confirms that coconut grove is cool as well.

Edit: I've updated my swatch picture to one that more accurately reflects the colors of each shadow. My previous picture, if you saw it, wasn't swatched darkly enough for my liking.

Dark Brown comparisons: Bobbi Brown Expresso, NARS Coconut grove, Urban Decay Darkhorse, and Bare Escentuals Smoky Quartz
So there you have it. NARS Coconut Grove. It shines amongst cool dark browns. That's saying a lot since I'm quite fond of the other browns as well. I'd definitely recommend it, though it is pricey for a single shadow. There's lots of great browns out there, so you wouldn't be missing out if you had to take a pass, however if you can afford a spot in your stash, it's well worth it. I'd also like to point out that Coconut Grove is one of the six colors on this year's Nordstrom Anniversary palette. And yes, I have been ogling that palette ever since Karlasugar's swatches came online.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you think you've got a shadow that can measure up to this one, brown or otherwise. I'd love to hear.

Love, Dovey

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Urban Decay Naked Palette, revisited after 1 year

Nearly a year has passed since I bought my Urban Decay Naked palette. When I bought it, my Naked palette was one of last few left in the city. I was a relative newbie at the time and the $44 price tag was still scary, so I hemmed and hawed until all the Sephora stores and were hopelessly sold out. Imagine my elation at finding a precious few left at Ulta! It was one of my first truly exciting makeup moments.

So what has become of this palette a year later? Is it still love? You can see that the chocolate velvet cover has become quite dusty over time. I thought it would be an interesting to post my thoughts on a product a year later. I'm also posting a more complete set of photos, swatches, and review of the Urban Decay Naked palette, as compared to my first entry.

Initially I got a lot of use out of this palette, after throwing away my only Bobbi Brown palette which had gone bad due to heat. I used mostly Buck and Naked (nice play on words, UD), which are the two mattes in the collection. I was into mattes at the time because I didn't know how to apply shimmer on my eyes in a way that didn't look gaudy. Unfortunately, most of the colors in the palette were shimmers. The shimmery shadows are fabulously pigmented and smooth. However, mattes are not. Buck and Naked were a bit chalky and no where near as awesome as the Bobbi Brown mattes I'd been using. (It's an unfair comparison, since no-one does mattes as well as Bobbi). Because of this, I couldn't use the palette to its full potential and my palette fell out of favor quite quickly once I got my hands on new makeup.

However, this isn't a sad tale of back-of-the-drawer palettes, it's a story of re-discovery. Over the year, I didn't find myself using the palette for my makeup, however often pulled it out to experiment, even though those looks rarely made it out of the house. More recently, I've begun to love shimmers shadows thanks to NARS Dogon. After wearing the taupe in Dogon nearly every day for 2 months, I needed new and exciting neutrals while I awaited the Fall 2011 collection. That's how I fell in love with my Naked palette again.

Looking with fresh eyes and more makeup know-how really made me appreciate the NAKED palette more. The color range is so broad and great for experimentation. There are brown, pink, gold, purple, and grey tones in the same palette. Additionally, it has both highlighter and liner colors. It's hands down the best starter palette for someone getting into makeup. For someone like me, it's still useful. Pinks, purples, and warm browns aren't my taste, but it is nice to have them if I feel like mixing things up.

On to the palette. There are twelve full-sized shadows. Excepting Buck and Naked, all are highly pigmented shimmers. The high pigmentation, which is a plus for the majority of makeup users, was why I had difficulty initially. I tend to like sheerer colors and need to use a lighter hand when using this palette. The shimmer shadows are soft and easy to blend with no fallout. Really, really nice. Like I said before, the matte shadows aren't as nice, but they're still good quality and nice colors.

The first half of the palette holds the lighter colors: Virgin, Sin, Naked, Sidecar, Buck, and Half-Baked.

The second half holds the darker tones, including: Smog, Darkhorse, Toasted, Sidecar, Hustle, Creep, and Gunmetal.

Here are swatches of all colors in the Urban Decay Naked palette on top of Urban Decay's primer potion. Some swatches have a couple chunks, but that's due my brush being a little damp due to cleaning in-between colors.

My favorite colors in the palette are SidecarDarkhorse, Creep, and Gunmetal. Sidecar is a surprising favorite considering that it's very glittery. The slight rosy tone makes it beautiful. Darkhorse is a rich cool brown with subtle shimmer. When I bought the palette, I knew I was going to love it, and it did not disappoint. Creep is a great blendable black for a blackened smoky eye. Gunmetal is a blue-leaning metallic grey that's so pretty. It might be difficult to blend into warmer complexions, but in small amounts it would be gorgeous, even as a liner.

Before I start summarizing, one last decadent look:

Overall, the more I learn about makeup, the more I appreciate this palette. It's got great quality and color variety for an incredibly reasonable price.  The pigmentation is ridiculous, and sometimes less-is-more when using these shadows. The palette shown is the original version, however the more recent palettes have a full-sized eyeshadow brush included instead of the dual ended zero/whiskey liner included in mine. It can't get better than that. I really wish they'd thought of that sooner; who doesn't need another high quality brush? Overall, I'd still rate this with an A+, even a year later.  Now, if only Urban Decay would make a cool neutral palette, I think I would just about go nuts!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my re-examination of my Urban Decay Naked palette. Do any of you have this in your stash and still love it like me? Or is it a thing of the past?

Love, Dovey

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LUSH haul and Gift-With-Purchase event

Yes, Baby Bird somehow snuck into the background of the shot
Oh happy day! My local LUSH had one of those rare gift-with-purchase events that I've been hoping for. They're quite hard to come by, and I've been waiting for quite some time now. But, it was worth the wait, and that mental list of products I've been compiling finally got put to use. Have I ever mentioned how much I love LUSH (I know I have)? I'm a smell person, and their things smell divine. Not to mention, their stringent animal testing policy and socially responsible campaigns are a major plus in my book.

Without further ado, here are the goods. I'll make further comments below.

Things I bought include: 
1. Fresh Farmacy Face Soap
2. Tea Tree Toner
3. Ocean Salt Cleanser
4. Jungle Conditioner
5. Rub Rub Rub

The gifts included:
Free, just for RSVP-ing in advance:
     1. Karma Komba Shampoo Bar 
With $65 purchase:
     2. Sugar Scrub
     3. Happy Hippy Shower Gel (3.3oz)
     4. Almond and Coconut shower smoothie
     5. Fair Trade Foot Lotion
With $75 purchase, you roll dice and get an extra item, corresponding to the number:
     6. Flying Fox Shower Gel

LUSH Jungle Conditioner, Karma Komba Shampoo bar, Sugar Scrub

I'm running out of my LUSH Jungle solid conditioner, and was thinking of investing in a new liquid version, because the solid probably lasts me 1-2 mo. for $6. For some reason, I thought liquid would be a better deal. However a LUSH sales associate (who, btw are usually quite pleasant and more than eager to talk about products) convinced me to go with Jungle again. I was surprised to hear that Jungle is actually their strongest conditioner, on par with Retread. No wonder it worked so well on my wavy hair. And compared to $25 for Retread or other liquid conditioners, a $6 Jungle is a go!

I was feeling extra grubby after camping and in need of major exfoliation and cleanliness so I decided to check out Rub Rub Rub (below) which is a body wash/ exfoliater that smells like beautiful mimosa (the same scent as Sakura bath bomb) and exfoliates with salt. A different SA (if you stay long enough, all the SA's will eventually talk to you if you let them), gave me an exfoliation treatment on my arms, comparing Rub Rub Rub (below) with Sugar Scrub. She taught me a tip: you can mix sugar scrub with Happy Hippy (or another shower gel) to give a similar effect to Rub Rub Rub. Both were nice, but I went with Rub Rub Rub since I don't have to mix anything. However, I did get both shower gels and a sugar scrub in my GWP so I'll be sure to try them out as well.

LUSH Happy Hippy Shower gel, Tea Tree Water toner, Flying Fox shower gel
LUSH Tea Tree Water is a spritz-on toner I've heard good things about, including on Musings of a Muse, so I thought I'd give it a try. Of the products I bought, this is the gamble since my opinion is that most toners (main ingredient alcohol) work just fine. Tea Tree is for normal to oily skin that may be acne prone. I'm not sure if it will control my breakouts better than the Jumbo bottle of Clinique Toner I have, but it's worth a try. I've used it quite often already and I love the fresh herbal smell, and the spritzing feels nice on a freshly washed face. Again, I'm not sure it does anything yet, but it makes me happy, if only for those reasons.  In a conversation with yet another LUSH SA, I learned you can spray throughout the day if you feel like you need freshening up. (I suppose in a similar way to the Evian spray).

Happy Hippy is a grapefruit/citrus scented shower gel that I've wanted forever (but didn't want to shell out for). Flying Fox  is a jasmine and honey scented shower gel that I've also been curious about. I'm so glad I got both as gifts, since they're both products I'm excited about. I just tried Flying Fox this morning, and it smelled gorgeous. It's more of a sexy scent (vs fresh for Happy Hippy). Also, a little goes a long way. Some shower gels don't bubble well and you end up using too much, however even a little does the trick. This is good if I ever decide to purchase in the future. But for now,  I can't wait to wake up to Flying Fox tomorrow morning.!

LUSH Rub Rub Rub, Ocean Salt, Fair Trade Foot Lotion, Almond and Coconut smoothie
Finally, LUSH Ocean Salt! Everyone loves this stuff. It smells like margaritas and is full of scrubby exfoliating sea salt and citrus for brightening. As you can tell, I couldn't help but dip my fingers into it and try some before taking my pictures. I've used it a couple days now, and love it so far. For those not used to exfoliation, this might seem harsh, however I prefer this to a weaker exfoliant (like my Clinique 7-day scrub). If you're ever in LUSH and looking at Ocean Salt, the SA's will likely offer to give you a hand treatment (which by the way, I highly recommend accepting). It's like a hand massage, almost. First they put on the lemon cuticle cream, then exfoliate with ocean salt, then apply dream cream (I think). It feels so good, and it's free! The only downside is that it's for one hand only, so you can compare the difference. So, you'll end up with one beautiful hand and one normal hand. But don't worry, if you stay long enough, you might get something other product tried on your other hand, so they'll get equal love. In fact, by the time I'd finished, I'd had something done to each hand, and each forearm (since there weren't enough hands to go around).

Oh my, it's quite late now--- I blogging always takes longer than I intend. I was planning on posting simple haul pictures, but that never happens =P.  I hope you enjoyed my LUSH haul! The gift with purchase was more generous than I expected, so it's worth a peek if you have an event near you. I don't think the stores heavily advertise in-store; I found out through email subscription. and be sure to tell me your LUSH favorites, so I can check them out =)

Love, Dovey