Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Eyeshadow

I've been delaying getting some posts up lately because I haven't had the time to take good photos, but I finally decided having no photos is better than having no posts. I can always go back and add them later, right? Meanwhile the stack of products I want to post about just keeps growing, so I think I've made the right decision.

For this post, I do have some photos (as you'll see), and if you do a Google image search for today's product you'll turn up, oh, about 1.5 million results (seriously). So they're out there if you're dying for them.

Let me just begin by saying that when I first saw the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr eye shadows at Target, I didn't intend to try them. If there is any scenario in which I am going to be wearing eye shadow for 24 hours, it would almost certainly have to involve me drinking a magnum of champagne and passing out for a long, long time. But then I started seeing people on Twitter comparing them to MAC Paint Pots, so I figured for six bucks (as opposed to $18 for a Paint Pot), I should give them a try.

I'd only planned to get one, but Fred Meyer had a buy-one-get-one-free deal, so I took home two. Tough as Taupe is a creamy neutral with the very barest hint of shimmer (you really have to look for it).

Too Cool is a frosty white with noticeably more shimmer.

My first reaction: These are a lot like Paint Pots. They're smooth and creamy and very pigmented. So when I was back at Fred Meyer later that week, and since the sale was still going on, I picked up two more: Edgy Emerald and Painted Purple, both shimmery.

I've been wearing one or more of these shadows almost every day for the past two weeks, either on their own or as a base under powder eye shadow. I have to say, I actually like the consistency and the wear better than MAC Paint Pots. I wouldn't use a Paint Pot without a primer underneath, but I've been wearing the Color Tattoo shadows with nothing underneath, and I haven't had any problems with creasing. I do recommend applying them in thin layers and building up to the amount of color you want. I think they would crease if applied thickly.

There also seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of shimmer and the ease of application of each shade. Tough as Taupe has the least shimmer (really, practically none), and it has the smoothest, most perfect consistency. I've been wearing it almost every day. Too Cool is the most shimmery, and it's the shade I've had the biggest challenge getting to apply evenly. (I've been using my fingers.) Again, thin layers work best.

If I had to pick only one of these to own, I'd absolutely pick Tough as Taupe. It's a really pretty neutral that I think is probably versatile enough to work with a lot of different complexions. 

I did sleep in Tough as Taupe (with L'Oréal's new Infallible long-wearing powder shadow over the top), just to be able to say I'd worn it for 24 hours. The result was not pretty. I don't imagine (or hope) I'll ever be able to effectively judge whether any 24-hour makeup lasts through 24 waking hours on my face.

Regardless, at around $6 (note to Anchorage readers: Color Tattoo shadows are regularly $6.99 at Fred Meyer but only $5.99 at Target), these creme shadows are a good deal and a great alternative to MAC Paint Pots and other high-end creme shadows. It would be nice to see the color selection expand, too; currently, there are 10 shades in the line, but I'd love to see more.

Maybelline Color Tattoo by Eye Studio 24hr Eyeshadow

Bottom line: 24 hours of wear? Probably not. But still a great deal for a good quality cream shadow.
Price: $
Tip: Build the color in thin layers, using your fingers and letting each layer set before you add more.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Matte glitter ombre

I liked my gold fleck ombre manicure so much, I had to try it the other way around (inspired by a couple of examples I saw on Pinterest). This is one coat of Orly Snowcone embellished with L.A. Girl Celebrate — again, very thin coats — and topped with Essie Matte About You. 

I haven't been a huge fan of matte finish nails before now, but I really like it with the glitter. It still shines, but you get a little less sparkle and a little more confetti effect.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gold flake ombre

I mentioned in my flakies comparison post that I wanted to try an ombre nail with Essie As Gold as it Gets. At first I tried it over silver, but there wasn't enough contrast, so my nails just sort of looked yellow at the tips. So I started over with two base coats of China Glaze Shower Together. The results didn't disappoint.

This is beyond easy to do yourself. Imagine your nail is divided into four quarters from base to tip. Working with very thin coats of As Gold as it Gets, paint just the tip, then put a second (again, very thin) coat over the top half of the nail. For your final coat, paint the top three quarters of the nail, leaving about the last quarter unembellished.

I finished it off with a coat of Essie Matte About You topcoat.

I love the gold over the blue, and the flakes really stand out under the matte topcoat. 

Anyone else doing anything fun with some of the new "special effects" polishes?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Post-holiday LUSH sale haul

Look what came in the mail last week!

I didn't manage to score any wrapped gifts in the Lush post-holiday sale (although I was right; they did add a few more items later, including some Snow Fairy gift sets), but I did pick out some buy-one-get-one-free bubble bars, soaps and bath bombs.

I don't order from Lush very often, so I really savor the box opening process.

Here on the top layer you can see some Ruby Red Slippers bubble bars, Candy Mountain bubble bars, Superstars bubble bars and Candy Cane soap. I hadn't tried any of these before I ordered them, but Ruby Red Slippers has a cult following, and I love anything peppermint-scented, so with the added bonus of the BOGO promotion, I felt OK taking a risk.

Once I dug past that first layer, I got to the real mother lode: Golden Wonder bath bombs. Eight of them. If they bring this bath bomb back next year, I can't recommend it enough. It smells like citrus, it changes colors, and it spews tiny little golden stars that drift all over the bathtub and melt away on your skin. Love it.

The final tally: Three Ruby Red Slippers, three Candy Mountains, three Superstars, eight Golden Wonders, two bars of Candy Cane soap, and a Cinders bath bomb just for good measure. (And another sample of Aromaco deodorant, which I think I've received in every Lush order I've ever placed. Guys, it's just not going to take. I would have loved to smell like patchouli when I was 19, but it simply isn't my thing anymore.) Total, including shipping: $77.50. That works out to about $3.88 per product, when most of these retail for $6.95 each. Not too shabby.

Speaking of saving money, it's worth mentioning that Lush's shipping charges are phenomenally reasonable — almost Sephora good. This order cost $8 to ship. I just went back through my old e-mails, and the most I've ever paid for shipping on a Lush order is $12. I wish other major retailers could figure out how to ship things to Alaska without charging an arm and a leg. (I'm looking at you, Bath and Body Works, with your automatic non-negotiable $20 minimum shipping to Alaska.)

The only thing that's too bad about ordering Lush by mail is that everything comes wrapped in cellophane bags, and of course if you buy in the store you put them in paper bags, which is a bit more earth-friendly. On the other hand, the cellophane bags make storage a little easier; I keep cello-wrapped bath bombs and bubble bars in a wire basket that hangs under a shelf in the bathroom closet. Unwrapped bath bombs (from the store or from a gift set) take a little bit more work, since they tend to shed a little bit and you don't want bath bomb grit all over your bathroom (and you want to keep them dry until you're ready to use them). I wrap mine in scraps of Lush Times and line them up neatly inside this cardboard box, which sits in a plastic storage box that also holds some other bath products. That way they stay dry, tidy and protected.

And yes, I am kind of a Lush hoarder. But mostly because I stock up after Christmas and try to parcel them out over the year. I'm saving that Mrs. Whippy for a day when I really need it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If not Naked, consider Nude

Maybe this is beauty blogger sacrilege, but I just can't bring myself to care about the Urban Decay Naked palette. I guess I don't feel the need to own that many high-end neutrals. At the height of Naked fever, when they were sold out all over the country, I twice found myself at Ulta locations (one in Oregon, one in New England) where they had the original Naked palette in stock, and both times I felt that limited-edition-need-to-own urge rise inside me, and both times I stepped back, took a long, hard look at reality, and realized I had no real interest in spending $48 on a palette that held almost no interest for me. Obviously the Naked palette has been massively popular, so I'm in the minority here, but I'm just not into it. And I'm really not into the Naked2 palette, which I realize has major differences to fans, but to me just looks like more of the same.

I think the price has a lot to do with it. I own other expensive palettes, including other Urban Decay palettes, but I'm trying to be a lot more responsible with my money in my 30s than I was in my 20s, and if I'm going to shell out 50 bucks for a palette, I really want to love it. Especially since now I have a husband who says things like "You spent what on eye shadow?"

If you're like me and you're not feeling the price tag on Naked and Naked2, here's an alternative: The Physicians Formula Nude Shimmer Strip.

Same concept as the Naked palettes (well, let's be honest — concept pretty much lifted directly from the Naked palettes) at less than a quarter of the price. I spotted this at my local Fred Meyer the other day and I have to say, I very nearly took it home with me despite the fact that I really don't feel the need to own any more neutral shadows. The packaging is super adorable, and the price is right: nine shades, 11 bucks.

I wouldn't necessarily call this an even exchange, of course. I have a few of the Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips, and while they're decent quality, they're not as velvety or pigmented as the Urban Decay shadows I own. I also find the Shimmer Strips a little bit difficult to use with larger brushes; since there's no divider between the colors, it can be a challenge to keep your all-over eye shadow brush from picking up a little bit of the wrong shade. If you're really passionate about high-quality neutrals, the Naked palettes are almost certainly a better bet.

Still, at about $11, if I wake up one morning and decide I can't live without a neutral palette, I'll go for the Nude over the Nakeds. With a gap of nearly $40, the difference between Nude and Naked is a pretty good bottle of wine.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Flake-off: Hidden Treasure vs. Shine of the Times vs. The Old Vic vs. As Gold as it Gets

It appears 2012 is going to be the year of the flakie polish. Finger Paints and Zoya have "special effects" collections out, packed with flakes, and it looks like there are more on the way, including in the China Glaze Hunger Games collection, "Colours From the Capitol," about which I'm trying really hard not to be too excited (trying and faaaailing).

Meanwhile, Essie's Luxeffects collection has been out since November, and I've been pretty much walking right by the display at Fred Meyer — all I saw were silver and pink glitters, and I'm all set for glitter. But over the weekend I happened to go to a different Fred Meyer (the one by my parents' house, where I also happened to stumble upon Anchorage's last bottle of Hidden Treasure in 2010, so... fate?), and they had a full display of shimmering, flake-filled bottles of Shine of the Times. I hadn't seen Shine of the Times in person, and I didn't realize it was a legit flakie. I grabbed a bottle (and As Gold as it Gets for good measure, now that I knew there were actual flakes involved in this collection) and ran to the nearest checkstand as fast as my extra-squeaky shopping cart would allow.

Actually, that's a lie. I finished my shopping. But I was really excited.

I got home and had to swatch Shine of the Times next to Hidden Treasure to see just how similar they really are, and I threw in As Gold as it Gets for good measure, along with a Nails Inc. flakie, The Old Vic, which I picked up at Sephora when we were in Vegas. (The Old Vic comes in a set with Black Taxi, a shiny black "patent" creme.)

One coat. Top to bottom: Essie As Gold as it Gets, Essie Shine of the Times, Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure, Nails Inc. The Old Vic

Of course, this is winter in Alaska and I didn't get home until 4 p.m., so the sun was already down. No beautiful natural light swatches for me.

One coat. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic

In these photos, I'm wearing one coat of each flakie layered over two coats of Orly Liquid Vinyl. As you can see, in terms of color, Shine of the Times is virtually identical to Hidden Treasure.

One coat. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic
I hadn't found The Old Vic terribly exciting on its own, but compared to the other topcoats, it is even less compelling. Nothing wrong with it; it does turn black polish into a subtly shimmery deep blue, which is nice. But not worth $20, even paired with Black Taxi. And it practically disappeared layered over white.

One coat. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic
These shots are one coat of each flakie layered over three coats of Sinful Colors Snow Me White (which, as you can tell from my polish job, is less than easy to work with. I'm open to recommendations for a great white creme).

One coat. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic
Unsurprisingly, monochromatic As Gold as it Gets stands out more over the white, but it was hard to capture the other topcoats on camera.

Two coats. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic
Two coats over black and you really start to get the full flakie impact. Shine of the Times is very much like Hidden Treasure except that the flakes are more densely packed, so you get more flake in each coat.

Two coats. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic

In terms of color, though, Shine of the Times and Hidden Treasure have the same multichromatic range, flashing reds, golds and green over black.

Two coats. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic

Over white, they look more iridescent.

Two coats. Top to bottom: As Gold as it Gets, Shine of the Times, Hidden Treasure, The Old Vic

I didn't expect to like As Gold as it Gets as much as I do. After I got done swatching, I redid my nails with two coats over Zoya Codie. I was most of the way done before I realized what a great combination that would be to try a gradient effect with the flakie, but I was too far in to want to go back and start all over again at that point. Next time.

Two coats. Left to right: The Old Vic, Hidden Treasure, Shine of the Times, As Gold as it Gets

Bottom line: If you missed out on Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure, pick up Shine of the Times and you'll be just as happy. It's essentially a Hidden Treasure dupe. As Gold as it Gets is way cooler in person than it looks dripping off a cherry in those print ads. And if you're looking for a subtle flakie shimmer without much going on in the way of color variety, The Old Vic is perfectly serviceable, although I don't find it all that exciting.

Two coats. Left to right: The Old Vic, Hidden Treasure, Shine of the Times, As Gold as it Gets
Also, beware the false Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure that's hit store shelves in recent weeks. It's a flake-free lavender frost that the company claims is a new shade that's "on-trend." As opposed to the original Hidden Treasure, which was such a huge flop you can now expect to pay $30 for it on eBay. For some reason, I guess that response sounded better to their social media department than "we screwed up." Maybe The New York Times runs Sally Hansen's Twitter account.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The best of 2011 beauty

It's taken me a week into the new year, but I'm finally ready to talk about my favorite products of the last year. 2011 was a big year for me in terms of branching out and trying new things. I joined Birchbox and Julep Maven and started taking more chances on drugstore makeup instead of sticking to high-end brands. I got over my fear of red lipstick (more on that another time) and rediscovered glitter. I tried a ton of new products, some with better results than others. This list includes most of my favorite new products from 2011. I should qualify the "new" — for the most part, I tried to limit the list to products that were actually new in 2011, but a few strays may have snuck on. It's possible some of these pre-date 2011 somewhat. But they were at least new to me in 2011. I'm looking forward to what 2012 will bring!

Bath & body

The Body Shop Candied Ginger scrub and body butter

I included Candied Ginger in my November favorites, but it wasn't until I packed the scrub and body butter on a trip to the North Slope oilfields that I really began to appreciate the awesomeness of this moisturizing duo. Holiday scents are 50% off at The Body Shop while supplies last, so if you're on the fence about this one, I encourage you to go for it. Unless you hate having soft, smooth, gingery-smelling skin, in which case you should definitely skip it.

LUSH Lust soap

We spent a weekend in Las Vegas in December, and when I made my customary pilgrimage to the LUSH in Mandalay Bay, they sent me off with a good-sized sample of this sparkling, jasmine-scented soap. One use and I was sorry I hadn't bought the entire brick. It smells spectacular, sweet and floral, and I really like the shimmer, although I know that could be a turnoff for some. I never thought I'd love another LUSH soap as much as I love Sexy Peel (which is a very different soap), but Lust might have taken the top spot.


Julep Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub

I started using Julep's hand scrub after it arrived in my very first Julep Maven shipment, and it didn't take me long to get hooked. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that after I'd been using this hand scrub for a week or so, people started commenting — unprovoked — about how soft and smooth my hands felt, and it was an easy pick for my October favorites. The price tag ($32) hurts, but the results are amazing.

OPI Mermaid's Tears

I liked the entire OPI Pirates of the Caribbean collection, but Mermaid's Tears was the only one that I really felt the need to own. I love blues and greens, and there's something about this particular shade — this might sound weird, but I find it calming. (On the other hand, maybe it doesn't sound so weird.) Mermaid's Tears has earned a place in my all-time favorite nail polish colors.

Wet N Wild Behind Closed Doors

I gushed about Behind Closed Doors, a limited-edition Halloween polish, back in September, and my love for this squishy red-on-black glitter hasn't decreased. This is one of those polishes that never fails to attract compliments.

Zoya Gemma

I just started getting into Zoya polishes in 2011; as far as I know, there's nowhere to buy them in Anchorage, so I get mine online. A couple have also come in Birchbox shipments. Gemma, from the Intimate collection, isn't usually the kind of color I'd go for; generally I stick to the extremes (plain creme or total glitterbomb), but Gemma has an unusual sort of violet duochrome shimmer over olive green. It's super unique and I love it.

If you like Zoya products (or if even if you haven't tried the brand but think you might like to), I recommend you set up an account on the Zoya/Art of Beauty website, and follow Zoya on Twitter and Facebook. They occasionally do member promotions, including some great buy-two-get-two-free events, and they don't gouge you on shipping (even to Alaska). Now through Jan. 9, you can try two bottles of Zoya free (you pay shipping) with the code ZOYA2012.


L'Oréal MagicSmooth Soufflé makeup

One of my beauty resolutions for 2011 was to find a foundation I actually like. This is That Foundation. MagicSmooth Soufflé has been my new best friend since September and we are still going strong. It's smooth and even and — better yet — affordable. While I'm sure I'll keep shopping around a bit on the side (I like to have a backup since I have a track record of falling in love with foundations just before they get discontinued), I know I'll keep coming back to this one for the foreseeable future.

Maybelline Master Drama by Eye Studio eyeliner

This is one of those products that lives up to its Internet buzz. I've used a lot of eyeliners and spent a lot of money along the way, with mixed results. This is absolutely the best value eyeliner pencil I've ever bought. The quality is just as good as a Stila SmudgeStick but at about half the price. The Eye Studio Master Drama cream pencil has quickly become a staple of my routine. I run this along my upper waterline every morning and it stays all day. Love it.

Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara

I've been using (and consistently loving) Maybelline's Volum' Express The Falsies mascara since 2010 and had no plans to supplement my mascara routine with anything else, but then I bought the new Urban Decay Book of Shadows palette at Alaska's new Sephora, and it came with a small tube of Supercurl. I've never felt the need to curl my lashes (I had an eyelash curler once because it came with a brush set, and I ended up throwing it out), but I have to say this mascara is a winner, and it really does have an immediate, visible curling effect. (Tip: Apply the brush to the outside/top of your lashes, not the side closest to your eye, and twirl it like you would roll a round brush through your hair.) The formula is great, too — not at all clumpy or flaky. I had mixed feelings about the new Book of Shadows palette on the whole — the whole iPod speaker thing was kind of gimmicky, and the QR codes leading to the tutorial videos were too small for my old phone to read, although I haven't tried them again since I got the 4s, and the construction of the drawer holding the actual shadows was flawed, but the actual products were great.

Milani Lip Flash pencil in Photo Flash and Kat Von D Foiled Love lipstick in Adora

As I mentioned at the top, I really got into red lipstick this year, and while I stick to creme shades for everyday, when we go out I like to add a little something extra. These two lip products are reds that work with my coloring and add a little something extra. Milani Lip Flash looks more obviously glittery, although the effect is elegant and not at all teenybopper when it's actually on the lips. Kat Von D Foiled Love really does have a smooth, foiled look that's unique among the lip products I've used. I like both for evening with a dark neutral smokey eye.

Left: Milani Lip Flash in Photo Flash
Right: Kat Von D Foiled Love in Adora

Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

What can be said about Revlon's Lip Butters that hasn't been said by me and every other beauty blogger in America? They're awesome. And as I mentioned in my full review, they're a great gateway drug if you're interested in experimenting with red lipstick but don't know where to start. I'm sure these are on just about every 2011 favorites list, but I'm jumping on the bandwagon anyway. They've earned their buzz and their place at the top for 2011.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!... and a look back at 2011

2011 was an awesome year for me. I made a scary but satisfying career change. I got married. And I started to have some fun with the beauty blog that I started on a whim more than a year ago. I'm looking forward to another great year of reviews, tips and DIYs. In the meantime, here's a look back at the 10 posts that drew the most page views on Below Freezing Beauty in 2011:

1. Review: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

Last year's top draw by a landslide. These moisturizing lip colors live up to the Internet buzz.

2. Wet N Wild Fantasy Makers Hauntingly Hip eye kits

I test drove the full lineup of bargain drugstore Halloween makeup kits. Results were mixed, but I had a lot of fun.

3. Love's gift set: The baby soft scent of nostalgia

Sometimes it's worth $10 to smell like you wanted to smell when you were 11.

4. I'm about to save you $8.95

I love LUSH lip scrub as much as the next girl. But when you don't want to spend nine bucks, here's how to make your own. (This post is actually from 2010, but it still managed to be 2011's fourth most popular post. So hopefully lots of you have saved that $8.95 many times over.)

5. Ulta Extreme Wear Gel Eyeliner: Don't bother

Some beauty bloggers won't post negative reviews. I say if I can save you from wasting $10 on an eyeliner that is only going to disappoint you, why wouldn't I?

6. Spotted: Magnetic nail polish at Anchorage Fred Meyer stores

I still say if someone introduced a magnetic nail polish that came with a bigger assortment of magnets, I'd be more likely to be into it.

7. Arctic-tested: The Body Shop Candied Ginger scrub and body butter

When I hauled my dry, sensitive skin up to the North Slope of Alaska, The Body Shop's holiday products didn't let me down.

8. The Body Shop 'Buy the Bag' haul

Nothing like saving more than $120 on quality product to put a smile on your face.

9. October Birchbox: Korres, Stila, Blinc, Caudalie and clean undies

Confession: The only thing I've used from this box is the Korres body butter. Which I love.

10. LUSH holiday haul and review

The Jilted Elf shower jelly from this review is still sitting in our shower. I will never use the rest of it. If anyone wants a partially-used shower jelly from a stranger, let me know. (The Australian Igloo scrub, on the other hand, I have since repurchased.)