Posts Tagged Swatches

Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola Collection {review and swatches}

I’m on a roll here, people, let’s just go with it.

Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola collection

I’ve only ever owned one nail polish from Nicole by OPI (I just can’t get past the ugly bottles!), so swatching the Coca-Cola collection was a relatively new experience for me. I’m also not a Coke lover (or even of pop in general, really – rarely drink the stuff) so at first many of the shades didn’t make sense to me, but I eventually got the references. Though most of the shades didn’t call to me, I tried to keep an open mind as I went through them – sometimes you find a gem when you least expect it, especially when it’s shades you might not have chosen otherwise.

Let’s begin with a classic, in all senses of the word.

Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola swatch

Always a Classic Coca-Cola is a richly-hued metallic red, reminiscent of the iconic Coca-Cola can. I like reds like this – strangely, I find metallic reds more wearable than cremes, which I find always look stark on my skintone. The formula was easy-peasy; two thin coats to opacity. As you can see, it IS a thin textured polish as any nail imperfections are noticeable -nothing a bit of top coat wouldn’t probably cure.

Always a Classic Coca-Cola vs Red Pumps at the Nordstrom comparison swatchLeft: Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola; Right: Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom

The shade reminded me of Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom, a beauty of a shade that I wear a lot during the holidays. I find Misa’s version, aside from being a bit deeper and cooler in tone, also has more depth – but both are pretty :)

Nicole by OPI DC Lover swatch

DC Lover (Diet Coke) is a silver foil with red glitter that surprised me by being quite pretty when worn. This is a shade I would NEVER choose if given the chance, but there’s something about it that’s kind of ethereal and lovely – the silver is just the right tone for my colouring, and the red flecks make it wholly different and interesting. Obviously, I have nothing like this. It’s a keeper! No issues with the formula or application whatsoever.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero swatch

Zero is My Hero (Coke Zero) is a deep, dark burgundy brown which does a good job at mimicking the color of Coca-Cola itself. I thought I was going to LOVE this shade – rich, mysterious, shapeshifting goodness – but unfortunately it was a dud for me. The multifaceted flash you see in the bottle (below) doesn’t translate on the nail, and it’s depth can really only be seen in direct sunlight. It reminds me of China Glaze’s Midtown Magic, another delicious-looking shade that let me down once worn on the nail. Formula on this one was the only less-than-stellar in the bunch too – three coats were required to achieve opacity.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero

Every Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonEvery Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest, Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero, OPI Royal Rajah Ruby

I had a few polishes I thought might compare – OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest and OPI Royal Rajah Ruby. In the first swatch above they all look somewhat similar, but when you angle them the right way, you can see that ‘Oktoberfest’ has more purple in it’s base, and ‘Ruby’ has more red. Against the two of them, it really looks kind of blah, doesn’t it?

Nicole by OPI Seriously Citrus swatch

Seriously Citrus (Sprite) is a fresh mix of green, blue, and white glitter of varying sizes and tones. Not being a glitter fan, I didn’t love this – but it does look nice layered over other polishes – above I applied one coat over RBL’s Oh Snap! on my ring finger, and the contrast was quite pretty. I just HATE the removal of glitter polish SO. MUCH. This was no exception on that front.

Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand swatch

In Grape Demand (Grape Fanta) was another surprising win for me – I don’t typically fall for midtone polishes like this, particularly purple ones, but recently I decided I *needed* Essie Flowerista from the Spring 2015 collection – only to realize that this is essentially the same color. Another great formula on this one.

Dutch'ya Just Love OPI? vs In Grape Demand vs Neon Violet swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Dutch’ya Just Love OPI?, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand, American Apparel Neon Violet 

The colors I have for comparison are clearly not even close to this shade, proving that I don’t buy colors like this normally.

Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange swatch

The Look is Orange (Orange Fanta) is for once an orange I can get behind! There’s not too much yellow in it to clash horribly with my skintone, and there’s a dash of red to make it even more wearable. This is going to be amazing as a pedi shade. Great formula too! You may have already seen me sporting this one on Instagram:

The Look is Orange vs Meet Me At Sunset vs Magnetic Force swatch comparisonLeft to right: Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange, Essie Meet Me At Sunset, LA Colors Magnetic Force

Here, you can see Essie Meet Me At Sunset is darker and more reddened, while LA Colors Magnetic Force is more coral than full-on orange.

Last year OPI did a Coca-Cola themed collection, which didn’t even hit my radar, but comparing the two collections now, I think Nicole by OPI did a better job – all of the Coke franchise flavours are represented in both collections (plus 3 additional ones in the OPI version), but the shades are more on point with this iteration (in my opinion). The only thing I’m not convinced of is that this is a spring-appropriate collection – but it seems more and more brands are releasing shades that don’t follow a seasonal theme, so what do I know? All I can say is that I’ll be hanging on to a few of these polishes – despite the unattractive bottles!

What do you think of this collection? Do you like Nicole by OPI polishes?

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OPI Infinite Shine {review and swatches}

Delinquent blogger alert – I’ve had these photos done for a month; I have to post about these polishes already! I just received the OPI Brights 2015 collection today so I really need to catch up (I also have OPI Soft Shades 2015 collection and Nicole by OPI Coca Cola collection photos / swatches ready too, sooo…yea. I’m a bit behind).

Today, however, we’re talking about the OPI Infinite Shine polishes, of which I have 3, plus the Primer base coat and Gloss top coat.

OPI Infinite Shine polishes

OPI released the new Infinite Shine formula back in the fall; it’s claim to fame is up to 10 days wear with a hi-def shine similar to gel nail treatments, but without the need of a light, nor the hassle of soaking off the polish. The 3 shades I received are: Maintaining My Sand-ityStaying Neutral and No Stopping Me Now. Let’s look at the swatches first (note that I’m wearing the Primer and Gloss base/top coats in each swatch) and then I’ll get to the formula and wear time.

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity swatch

Maintaining My Sand-ity is a work-friendly, putty-toned nude that I thought I liked at first, but after wearing for a while found it’s slightly greenish hue made my hands look red. I think on the right skintone this would be a great, chic neutral shade but on me it’s just not entirely flattering. Formula was lovely with two smooth coats for opacity.

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity comparison swatchLeft to right: OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, Zoya Cho, OPI Glints of Glinda, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity comparison swatchLeft to right: OPI Glints of Glinda, Zoya Cho, OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?

I have a few shades that compare with Maintaining My Sand-ity, but they’re either a touch too light (OPI Glints of Glinda [which is also a sheer], Zoya Cho) or a bit more pink (OPI Do You Take Lei Away? – which I prefer over this shade).

OPI Staying Neutral swatch

Staying Neutral is classic greige shade that is much more up my alley. It contrasts with my skintone just enough to make it stand out without being unflattering. Again, formula was stellar – two easy coats are shown above.

IMG_0615Left to right: Essie Master Plan, OPI Staying Neutral, Sally Hansen Commander in Chic

It looks a bit cool-toned in the hand swatch above, but in the comparison swatches, particularly against Essie Master Plan, you can see that it’s actually got a bit of warmth to it so it doesn’t look too stark against the skin. I thought it would be really close to Sally Hansen Commander in Chic, but it’s much lighter, which I actually prefer as well.

OPI No Stopping Me Now swatch

Finally, No Stopping Me Now is a bold orange-red that isn’t quite as searingly bright in the swatch above. It almost has a touch of coral to it as well – truly, a perfect tropical shade. I feel colors like this look good on almost anyone because they’re such a chameleon and can lean one way or another depending on the lighting/skintone/wardrobe etc. Formula, like the other two, was essentially perfect.

OPI No Stopping Me Now comparison swatchLeft to right: Essie Meet Me At Sunset, OPI No Stopping Me Now, Essie Come Here!

Shades like this are SO EFFING HARD TO PHOTOGRAPH. It was impossible for me to clearly photograph the differences in tone between these 3 shades. Essie’s Meet Me At Sunset is more orange (absolutely no coral/pink at all), while Essie Come Here! is decidedly more pink. NOT THAT YOU CAN TELL IN THESE PHOTOS, though. Damn.

So, the long-wear, über-shine claims. I wore Staying Neutral for a full mani, employing the 3 steps by using the Primer (step 1) as my base, followed by 2 coats of color (step 2), topped with a coat of the Gloss (step 3). I had high hopes as a long-wearing glossy mani is hella-appreciated at this stage in my life; unfortunately, my nails chipped within a few days, and I didn’t particularly feel like the glossiness has retained it’s full-power shine. I read a great review of these polishes by Beauty Geeks, in which Karen notes that these polishes still likely require several minutes to ‘cure’ in natural UV light (aka THE SUN) for them to be truly long-wearing. I haven’t had a chance to try this, but I intend to – normally I could care less about long wearing shades as I tend to change my polish frequently, but I could really benefit from not having to worry about chipped nails for a week plus.

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Ultimately, I’m more about the shades than the wear with polishes, so no matter what the case I’d still try more of these shades, especially if they all have formulas like these – smooth, glossy and oh-so-easy to apply.

Is wear time a factor for you when choosing a nail polish? 

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Saving face (literally) with products from Make Up For Ever

Remember my post about the key makeup prodz for new moms?  The implied message was that all you needed was some concealer, bronzer and a subtle lip color and you’re good to go. HA. And another HA I say. While there may only be TIME to apply 3 products, the reality (for me anyway) is that you look so haggard from lack of sleep, and a bit janky from hormone-induced breakouts, that you need a wee bit more than that to look ‘normal.’ Though my skin hasn’t gone completely bat-shit crazy like it did after the miscarriage, I’ve had a few spots crop up that really reflect just how little I’m able to dedicate to self-care these days (my feet, you guys – OMG they are so dry and ragged that putting on socks is like scratching nails down a chalk board!). On top of that, I’m a little – nay, A LOT – sleep-deprived, which does nobody’s skin any favours.

Fact is, I need a little extra help in the makeup department lately. Fortuitously, 2 products have recently crossed my path that have helped do a little ‘damage control’ – Make Up For Ever’s Pro Sculpting Duo in 2 Golden ($45CAD) and their Mist & Fix setting spray ($34CAD).

Make Up For Ever

As contouring has suddenly gone from being an optional step (and viewed somewhat derisively at times), to the current ‘BIG THING’ in makeup, it’s no surprise to see a true makeup artistry brand like Make Up For Ever join the ranks with their own vision of what a contour product should look like. Conveniently including both a contour shade as well as a highlight in the compact (which comes in two shades – 2 Golden for medium-deep to deep skintones, shown below with their 156 Large Flat Blush Brush [$43CAD] ideal for just this purpose; and the lighter 1 Pink Beige for fair to medium skintones), the weightless gel-powder is designed to ‘blends seamlessly for traceless highlighting and contouring.’

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

I was very excited to try this product, not only to try my hand at contouring (something I’ve never really done), but also because – HELLO, that powder looks beautiful! However, when I dug into the product, I was a bit disappointed, and I’m sure those of you who ‘know’ about contouring can guess why.

The color of the darker powder is too warm to be used as a contour (in my opinion). I tried it, and while it applies soft and subtle – a must, as contouring is supposed to be undetectable – it mostly looks like I used bronzer to sculpt my face, and not like I naturally have covetable cheekbones. To be fair, people have been using bronzer as a contouring product for ages, but I just feel like it should be marketed as such, you know? Nonetheless, it does make for a lovely bronzer, which is how I’ve been wearing and enjoying it.

The highlight shade, on the other hand, is as it should be, and imparts a lovely glow to the high planes of the face. Its a *touch* more frosty than I usually like my highlighting products, but not so much that I haven’t been wearing it often. It’s a particularly flattering warm golden shade on my skin – I just might not use it during the height of the summer sun.

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo swatches

Both powders are very smooth with an almost creamy feel, and though I sometimes feel like I need several passes to pick up enough product, this keeps one from overdo-ing either one, an easy mistake to make with these types of products. Overall, though this wasn’t exactly what I expected, I quite like it and have been wearing it frequently to give my skin that extra ‘oomph’ I so desperately need.

After bringing life back to my skin with the Sculpting Duo, the pièce de résistance is the brand’s Mist & Fix setting spray, which helps ‘lock in makeup and keep color fresh.’ I was really pleased to try this product, as I had been contemplating buying MAC’s Fix+ – I really wanted something to set my makeup and give me a bit of a dewy sheen so my makeup would look more natural. I didn’t even realize Make Up For Ever made a similar product (though I should have known!), and all the better that they do!

Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix

The spray is designed to create a ‘sweat-proof, rub-resistant barrier for fresh-looking makeup that lasts up to 12 hours.’ It also helps to increase skin’s hydration and is ‘formulated with a complex to boost oxygenation and deliver a healthy-looking, radiant glow.’ I can’t speak to the 12 hour claim (when I DO wear makeup these days, it’s only for a few hours) nor the oxygenation part (uh, sure?), but I can attest to the awesome glow this gives the skin – that kind of dewy radiance that I’ve been trying to achieve for so long is finally in my grasp! SO happy. The only beef I have with the product is the scent – kind of reminds me of bug spray or something? Not that strong, but it’s a sort of mildly unpleasant chemical smell which is a touch off-putting. But, it does dissipate and doesn’t linger on the skin, so I can live with it. Also, hooray for spray nozzles that work properly (huge pet peeve of….probably everyone, AMIRITE?!) – this mists nice and evenly on the skin.

Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix ingredients

So there you have it – two additional secret weapons I’ve been using to look like an upstanding citizen again. I feel like the days when I venture out of the house has me wearing more products than ever before! At least, the basics…I wear less fun color and more stuff to make the skin itself look better. Ah well, it’s all only temporary…and things change so quickly! Just within the past week Elena has started sleeping for longer stretches at a time (she’s also awake for a bit longer) and more deeply…which means mama gets more sleep too ;) I might be back to wearing bold lippies and fun eyeshadows sooner than I thought!

Make Up For Ever

Do you use bronzer to contour, or a product designated for that purpose? Have you ever used a setting spray? What tricks do you have for looking well-rested?

*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Swatching ain’t what it used to be: OPI Hawaii Spring 2015 Collection

A day after returning from the hospital with my beautiful baby girl in tow, the new Hawaii-themed spring collection from OPI landed on my doorstep. Equal parts excitement and anxiety flooded me – I mean, HOORAY! for new, fun nail polish to play with; but OHMAGERD how in the EFF am I going to swatch all these with a new babe to look after 24/7?

Basically, you swatch one shade a day until you get through ’em all.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

I must say, once I finished I felt inordinately pleased with myself. NEW MOM, WHAT!?! However, its not perfection – my cuticles and hands are sort of a wreck, leftover from washing my hands 20 times a day in the NICU and then having no time to do damage control once we got home. Meh. Guess I can’t do everything.

Ok, less talky, more showy (time is a luxury, after all!).

OPI do you take lei away swatch

Starting with my favorite from the collection, Do You Take Lei Away? is a ‘creamy nude’ that applies very well for this kind of shade, smooth and even in 2 coats, and is neutral enough (not too warm or cool) that I think it will flatter most skintones.

IMG_0323Left to right: Tom Ford Toasted Sugar, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?, OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, Essie Jazz

I was unsurprised when I started pulling similar shades to compare against ‘Lei Away’ and discovered the closest match was a much-loved favorite, Essie Jazz. The OPI shade is just a hint more pink and less grey than Jazz and as such it looks a bit better against my skintone. My bottle of Jazz is halfway done (which means its almost finished, in polish terms), so I’m pleased to have a  sort of newer, better version to take it’s place.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch

‘Pastel mint green’ That’s Hula-rious! is the kind of shade that I love in theory but which doesn’t always compliment my skintone. As is common with pastels, the formula is a bit streaky and needed 3 coats. The swatch above portrays it more vividly than it is – this shade was swatched during a snowstorm (one of many!!) so the natural light is much more dim and I had to overcompensate when taking the photo. The comparison photo below gives a more accurate indication of the shade.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch comparisonLeft to right: China Glaze Re-fresh Mint, OPI That’s Hula-rious!, butter London Bossy Boots

China Glaze Re-fresh Mint is very similar, but is a smidgen lighter and less green, and the formula for it was atrocious. I far prefer this version.

OPI lost my bikini in molokini swatch

A ‘reef-inspired purple’, Lost My Bikini in Molokini feels like the perfect shade for spring – its vibrant and playful but not too bright. 2 coats were required to achieve opacity; the formula is good but not perfect and needs a tiny bit of attention to avoid streaking. This polish stained my nails a tad when I removed it, so keep that in mind.

OPI lost my bikini in molokinii swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Lost My Bikini in Molokini; Right: Rescue Beauty Lounge Mismas

I thought that RBL’s Mismas would be a close dupe to this color, but in fact it’s a few shades darker. I think I like the lighter tones of the OPI shade actually – I really like wearing colors according to seasons (so sue me) and Mismas doesn’t seem to fit into any of them, in my view.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch

Described as a dark, creamy mauve, Just Lanai-ing Around is one of those midtone shades that I’m not a fan of – I prefer a strong contrast against my skintone. Personal preferences aside, the formula on this color is excellent and only required 2 easy coats to reach opacity.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI No Spain, No Gain, OPI Just Lanai-ing Around, OPI Diva of Geneva

In my mind, ‘Lanai-ing‘ was very similar to OPI No Spain, No Gain (another midtone shade I dislike), but it’s much lighter. OPI Diva of Geneva is a shimmer, of course, and in any case it’s also much darker and richer in tone.

OPI go with the lava flow swatch OPI go with the lava flow swatch

Go With the Lava Flow is a ‘golden red’ that leans coral and has a slight orange flash, which you can see only at the right angle. Normally this type of color isn’t my bag, but looking at these swatches makes me want to give it another go – it’s kind of intriguing, no? It took 3 coats to get the opacity I desired, but the polish applied well with no issues. I don’t have any shades comparable to this.

OPI aloha from opi swatch

Aloha From OPI is a ‘bright creamy coral’ that has just enough pink to keep it from being a true red. It’s been so long since I’ve worn a bright like this, it gets me in the mood for warmer weather! Though its a cream, it applied a touch streaky and I needed 3 coats to even it out to my liking. I don’t find this shade particularly unique, but it’s pretty nonetheless.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 swatch comparisons - Version 2Left: OPI Aloha From OPI; Right: Essie Come Here

A very close dupe for this shade is Essie’s Come Here, a favourite of mine. Essie’s version is ever so slightly more pink, but to me they’re essentially the same. Come Here has it’s own application issues, but I think I’d keep it over Aloha From OPI simply because I like square bottles better ;)

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Halfway through, guys. At this point I was on day 7 and getting better at painting my nails between one feed, and then stealthily putting Elena down long enough to take photos between another. Swatches over showers, oh YEA.

OPI pineapples have peelings too swatch

Pineapples Have Peelings Too is…well, it’s just bizarre, what can I say? A ‘gold shimmer with colorful sparkle,’ when I pulled this shade out for the first time I was like ‘What the…?’  It is NOT pretty, you guys. Whoever thought up this shade was reaching, big time (though the name is perfect, I think). As the gold base is quite sheer, it required 3 coats to build up opacity. Interestingly enough, I actually quite like the base color, and I’m very picky about my golds (if you recall…). But the glitter bits are garish and the base covers over their sparkle to make it all look dull and blah. ME NO LIKEY (does anyone?). Obviously, this is a one-of-a-kind shade.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch

Is Mai Tai Crooked?, an ‘orange crème’, is one of those polarizing shades I think. Though it’s base isn’t too yellow, which can go terribly wrong on some people (like myself), it’s still not a flattering color on me. I do love the name though ;) 3 coats are needed to help even out patchiness, though if you were really careful you could probably get away with 2. Patchiness seems to plague most of the cream shades in this collection I find.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Is Mai Tai Crooked?; Right: Essie Resort Fling

The comparison above is a perfect example of the small nuances that can make or break a shade on my skintone. Essie Resort Fling is more peach than orange, of course, but the pink-leaning base versus the yellow-leaning one makes all the difference for me.

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Suzy Shops & Island Hops…oh how I love the look of this shade! Described as a ‘light and happy pink,’ I find this color super-flattering on my skintone. But of course, pastel shades often come with issues, and this shade needed 3 coats to even out the patchiness. But I don’t mind TOO much, because PRETTY.

OPI suzi shops & island hops swatch comparison

I must be having a pink moment, because I also love RBL’s Oh Slap!, which is close to ‘Suzy Shops’ though without as much white in the base. I’m tempted to only keep the RBL, but I really love the way the OPI looks so despite it being kind of a PITA to apply, I’ll hang on to it for a while, anyway.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch

Hello Hawaii Ya? is a ‘dusky purple’ and the type of color that used to appeal to me, for whatever reason. But though it works with my skintone, it’s kind of drab, and I prefer bright and punchy for spring shades. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, for this collection), the formula wasn’t great and I needed 3 coats to smooth out patchiness, which still didn’t fully even things out. I think this color would be lovely on a lighter or darker skintone than mine, but it veers into that ‘midtone’ territory and I have too many other polishes in which to devote my time.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Hello Hawaii Ya? Right: OPI Parlez Vous OPI?

I think the reason I thought I’d like this shade is because when I first got my hands on OPI Parlez Vous OPI?, I adored the way it looked on me. But my tastes have changed over the years, and now I find it looks dull and muddy. These are clearly not dupes but they’re definitely distant relatives.

OPI this color's making waves swatch

This Color’s Making Waves should look familiar… This ‘shimmery, lagoon blue’ is a pretty marine shade makes me long for summer in a big way! It’s kind of a pain though, as it needed 4 coats to reach this opacity. It’s quite thin and watery, and as it’s not terribly unique I am less than enamoured by it. I have a very close dupe in…

OPI this color's making waves swatch comparison

Chanel’s Azure. Obviously. For the nitpicky among you, they aren’t exactly the same – Azure has more green in it, and OPI’s version has tiny silver flecks of shimmer running through it to set it apart. Both have a duo chrome flash, but Azure’s is more teal-blue-green, whereas ‘Making Waves’ is more teal-blue-purple. Meh. To me they’re damn near identical, and Azure only requires 2 coats (and, um, it’s Chanel), so it’s the winner in my books!

OPI my gecko does tricks swatch IMG_1934

Finalement. My Gecko Does Tricks. A ‘bright and pearly green’ that has a sort-of orange flash in the right light (as seen in the second photo, which I took with my phone and I previewed on Instagram). I’m not a fan of green polishes generally, which I’ve mentioned on several occasions. Though I probably won’t wear this much if at all (except St. Patty’s Day and maybe Christmas), it kind of grew on me a bit – it isn’t too yellowed (blech)/saturated (due to the shimmer)/dark (and therefore murky) to turn me off, I guess. It’s almost…flattering, if you like greens. It did need 3 coats however, so there’s that.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Overall, the collection was a mixed bag in terms of formula and shades. Many of the polishes were somewhat subpar in terms of performance and some of the shades weren’t to my taste (that’s just my opinion though!). I did have some favorites though, namely Do You Take Lei Away?, Lost My Bikini in Molokini, Go With the Lava Flow, and Suzi Shops & Island Hops (despite the crappy formula).

The Hawaii Collection by OPI is available now in both nail lacquer and GelColor formulas, at professional salons nationwide as well as ULTA and Nail Polish Canada.

*Product samples were provided for my unbiased consideration.

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Make Up For Ever gives ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ a touch of class

When I was in New Zealand, I spent a lot of time traveling around on a bus. To pass the time, I read a handful of books, two of them being part of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. There are a couple points to note here: I only read two of the three books; and I read more than one of the books only because at that time I had nothing else to read. Are you getting the picture yet? Quite honestly, I found the ‘Fifty Shades’ books ridiculous – the sexy bits were repetitive and silly, and I actually started to skip over them to get to the ‘meat’ of the novel. I struggled to get through the second book, and I had NO desire to read the third novel and find out how Christian and Anastasia ended up.

NEVERTHELESS. This should not be taken to mean that I will not give a ‘Fifty Shades’ themed makeup collection my full attention and appreciation – particularly one from a favourite brand of mine, Make Up For Ever. The Fifty Shades of Grey Give In to Me make-up coffret ($90CAD) by the brand is especially worthy of a serious look – even though I could take the books as anything but!

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The kit contains a handful of Make Up For Ever’s most iconic products: their popular Smoky Extravagant mascara (review here – though please note that while my original review was less than stellar, the one in this set is quite lovely!), their new Graphic Liner (review here), two natural-hued lip products – a Lab Shine Lip Gloss in D14 (a shimmering indian pink) and a Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in N4 (a pink-beige), and four neutral shades of the exquisite Artist Shadows, in I-514 (‘pink ivory’), S-556 (‘taupe grey‘), ME-612 (‘silver brown,‘ previous review here), and I-628 (‘reptile‘ {WUT?}).

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The Artist Shadows have been taking the beauty world by storm, and for good reason – they’re silky, smooth, pigment-rich and come in a vast array of colors and textures. The shades in this set are neutral but not boring and are all very different, so a variety of looks can be created (sometimes I find palettes like these contain shades that vary by only a fraction). I also enjoy that the palette can be worn by both cool or warm skintones – both the highlight shade (I-514) and crease/liner shade (I-628) are tonally neutral, with the taupe shade (S-556) leaning just a touch cool, and the shimmering brown shade (ME-612) warm. Lastly, can I just say that it’s so nice to see a palette like this in which the shadows are still as good quality as you would find if you bought them singularly (*cough* MAC, I’m looking at you *cough*)?

IMG_0294 IMG_0234Clockwise from top left: I-514 (‘pink ivory’), ME-612 (‘silver brown’), I-628 (‘reptile’), and S-556 (‘taupe grey’)

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The lip colors are complimentary to the shadows, both MLBB shades that would work with most looks and on most skintones. The Rouge Artist Natural lipstick in N4 is a pretty shade of dusty rose, and the formula (previously reviewed here) is comfortable and lightweight, with a softly creamy finish. The Lab Shine lip glosses, here in D14, are some of the only glosses I’ve ever finished (previous shade reviews here and here) – in part due to their beautiful shine and wonderfully moisturizing qualities, and in part because they’re kinda small at 0.09oz (a YSL gloss by comparison is 0.2oz). I don’t mind much as it’s quite gratifying to finish a makeup item! – but something to note all the same. You can see below that in just using this regularly for the past few days that it’s already on it’s way to being used up.

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Below are swatches of the shadows and lip colors!

MUFE 50 Shades of Grey Makeup Coffret swatchesLeft to right: [Shadows] I-514 (‘pink ivory’), S-556 (‘taupe grey’), I-628 (‘reptile’), and ME-612 (‘silver brown’); [Lipstick] N4 (pink beige); [Lipgloss] D14 (shimmering indian pink).

MUFE 50 Shades of Grey Makeup Coffret swatchesClose up of Rouge Artist Natural in N4 and Lab Shine Lip Gloss in D14. 

Overall I think this kit is kind of awesome, and I’m not really one for makeup sets like this. Every item is a stand-out, and the palette is extremely wearable and appealing. If they had included a blush I would have died and gone to heaven! If you haven’t tried the brand yet, this would be the opportune moment to do so – though I see that this set is no longer on the Sephora website, so my apologies if I just created a lemming you can’t fulfill! I would definitely head to your local store to see if you can still score the set – but if you can’t, happily all of these shades are in the permanent line-up, so though it’s not a ‘deal’, you can still grab any shades/products that have caught your eye!

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The moral of the story? Even if you weren’t a fan of the books, don’t let that deter you from looking at Make Up For Ever’s take on the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise – theirs is probably the best thing to come from the phenomenon, hands down!

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Did you read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? Will you see the movie? 

*Product(s) were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Chanel Joues Contraste in Malice is just pretty enough

I’m just here, lying in bed willing sleep to come (I barely slept a wink last night), and I thought I’d throw up a quick post since I haven’t in a couple weeks. Pregnancy has been very good to me thus far – I’ve had very few symptoms from the beginning (zero morning sickness, hooray!), and the ones I’ve had have been mild – so I can’t really complain, but I’m trying to get in as much sleep as I can before the wee one arrives {for obvious reasons} and it makes me sad when it becomes elusive. Ah well, par for the course I guess.

Chanel Blush

A while ago, I got it in my head that I just HAD to own Chanel’s Joue Contraste in Malice, an obsession I 100% attribute to this post of Karen’s. I hunted it down on The Bay online (we don’t carry Chanel in our Hudson’s Bay store here in Halifax), and it was one of those purchases that I did in a bit of a frenzy, with little thought about it – I figured, it looked great on Karen, its gotta look great on me too, right?

Chanel Malice Blush

Well, yea, sure it’s nice. It’s a pretty peachy blush with a hint of pink, and I’m fairly certain it would flatter all skin tones. But quite honestly, I find it a little…boring. Interestingly enough, though it’s quite similar in tone to one of my fave blushes, MAC’s Early Morning Mineralize blush (an LE product from a few years ago) – which is another reason I bought it (I dropped Early Morning shortly after I purchased it, and there wasn’t much left in the end) – for whatever reason it just doesn’t WOW me the same way.

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It has a similar satin sheen to it as Early Morning does, but it doesn’t seem to give my skin that same healthy glow. There’s a fine shimmer in the blush that veers on sparkly in my books – though it’s not too obvious in natural light, I can see it plainly in the pan and it turns me off a bit.

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I have been wearing this blush with some regularity since I bought it, as it compliments almost any makeup look and colour scheme, but for the money I paid for it, I’m somewhat disappointed. Chanel makeup often doesn’t live up to the hype for me, so there’s that as well. I just think the *type* of makeup Chanel produces doesn’t fit with my own personal style – it’s generally softer (too subtle) than I prefer – which sounds as if I wear bold brights all the time, but that’s not the case. It’s almost like….Clinique makeup. Makeup for women who want to look like they don’t have makeup on. Though I don’t wear trowels of makeup and I generally stick to enhancing one feature overall, I don’t fear others knowing I’m wearing a little something something. I wear makeup for the fun of it, not because I need it to feel pretty.

Chanel Malice blushSee – it’s pretty enough on, just…a little ‘meh’ for me

Anyway, I think I’ve *FINALLY* learned my lesson with Chanel makeup. The only thing I’ve been really pleased with from the brand is the LE Poudre de Signee highlighter I picked up a couple years ago, and some of their polishes (which are also hit or miss in the shade department for me, hence why I only own a handful of them). So from now on I’ll probably keep any future purchases from the brand along those same lines (the LE highlighters are, if nothing else, beautiful to look at!). It’s a shame because the aesthetic of Chanel appeals to me so much…but if the product inside doesn’t do it for me, no matter how pretty a thing is, it just AIN’T GONNA WORK.

What brand(s) are you just not WOWED by?

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Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 and ME-612: Autumn’s perfect pairing

Alright, so I’ve been trying to get this post up for a week but so far it clearly hasn’t happened. I have an hour or so before pre-natal yoga but I MUST talk about these awesome new(ish) shadows from Make Up For Ever NOW before I get way-laid again, so let’s get ‘er done!

The Artist Shadow collection includes 210 shades (which is CRAZY, by the way…think of the possibilities!) in 5 different finishes – matte, satin, iridescent, metal, and diamond. 3 years in the making, the formula was designed to maximize colour delivery through mega-concentrated pigments, and their Water-Blend technology aims to enhance blendability and texture.

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I received shades M-656 (a Chestnut shade) and ME-612 (described as a ‘silver brown’ but which I feel is more rose-bronze). The ‘M‘ before the colour number indicates a matte shade; while the ‘ME‘ denotes a metal finish. Other formulas within the shade range correspond as follows: S = satinI = iridescent, and D = diamond. The numbers indicate a specific area of the colour wheel (above).

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612Left to right: Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 Chestnut and ME-612 Silver Brown

Initially when I saw these shadows I was pretty pumped – they’re perfectly neutral, easy-wearing shades and that bronzey-rose metallic shade is SO my kind of colour.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in M-656 Chestnut 

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in ME612Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in ME-612 Silver Brown

The chestnut shade is soft and buttery smooth, and swatches exactly as it looks in the pan. However, on first touch, the ‘silver brown’ shadow felt a bit stiffer to the touch, and didn’t translate its beauty as well as I’d hoped – it’s not as pigmented as I imagined it would be, and appears slightly faded rather than the rich texture I was expecting.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 and ME-612M-656 Chestnut (left) and ME-612 Silver Brown (right)

Additionally, I was a bit let down with the chestnut shade in that it seemed very close to other shades I already owned: MAC Saddle and Laura Mercier Truffle (from last year’s Artist’s Palette).

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in M-656 vs MAC Saddle vs Laura Mercier Truffle swatchLeft to right: MUFE M-656, MAC Saddle, and Laura Mercier Truffle

However, in swatching I realized that while the MUFE shade is quite close to Saddle (the former being a bit cooler), its pigmentation and texture is FAR superior – Saddle is more stiff and took many more passes to build up the colour, while M-656 was full-on colour from first swatch. Additionally, you can see that the LM shade doesn’t even compare in terms of pigmentation – much, MUCH more subtle (aka wishy-washy, in my opinion!). While the LM shade is part of a the one palette I haven’t destroyed, and therefore I’ll keep it around, I am most definitely getting rid of Saddle as it just doesn’t compare in terms of formula.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in ME-612 vs MAC Sable swatchMUFE M-612 (left) and MAC Sable (right)

While comparing Saddle, I noticed that beside it in the MAC palette it’s housed in was a shade that looked remarkably similar to ME-612 – Sable. Of course, I had to do a comparison swatch of the two, and lo and behold – they are very similar! Sable has a more metallic finish, and is a touch cooler than ME-612, but for all intents and purposes they are very near dupes. Given my initial thoughts on ME-612, you would think I’d choose Sable, right? HOWEVER.

ME-612, while nothing to write home about in a swatch, looks beautiful when worn. It melds seamlessly with my skin so that it gives an extra little sparkle to my eye without being obvious, or even looking much like makeup! This is where is trumped Sable by far, as when I wear Sable (which is infrequently), I find it looks like I am wearing eye makeup, and it annoys me because it SEEMS like it should be a shade that almost matches my skin tone. Indeed, I have a *brown* friend who wears this every day and it looks like magical goodness on her. Where I think it goes wrong on me is the slightly thicker texture, the more metallic finish, and it’s ever-so-teensy cooler leaning, which just doesn’t work for me. When I wear a ‘natural’ shade, I want it to look natural, dammit!

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612Wearing ME-612 on the lid, with M-656 in the crease.

What I particularly like about this duo (which the MUFE PR gal so expertly put together for me!) is that it’s not SO warm that it clashes with any makeup you might pair with it that’s cooler-toned. In fact, I wore this duo when I showed you all my Ilia Beauty lippies – as you can see below, it works equally well with both the warmer tones of Femme Fatale, and the cooler tones of Call Me.

IMG_3889Wearing MUFE M-656 and ME-612 with Ilia Beauty Femme Fatale Lipstick

IMG_3883Wearing MUFE M-656 and ME-612 with Ilia Beauty Call Me Lipstick Pencil

So, it seems that once again, I took a bit of time before I was WOWED by a product. Guess I’m getting harder to please in my old age, huh?  The moral of this story here is simple, however: Don’t rely on swatches to give you a true idea and full picture of how a product looks and performs. It’s just not telling you the whole story! Sure, it gives you a good place to start, but honestly since I actually wore this duo on my eyes, I find myself reaching for it again and again because it just works so well with every look I pair with it!

Oh, and one last comment – when you purchase these new shadows, its a good idea to buy in bulk, as there is a discount added for two or three shadows bought at a time. I have conflicting information – the press release I have says that one shadow is $25CAD, two shadows is $39 and three is $50, but on Sephora it indicates $24CAD for one, a $9 discount for two (so, as stated, $39) and a $20 discount for three (ringing in at $52). Either way, it’s a good deal, and it only makes sense to buy a few at a time (I mean, there are 210 shades, so if you can’t find 2-3 that you like…WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!?)

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612

Will you be checking out the new Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows? What type of finish do you like best in eyeshadow formulas?

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