It’s all-too-often that beauty products get released from various brands that try to copy err, recreate an already existing shade almost down to the exact detail. For example, MAC’s very famous eyeshadow Club. So many brands have come out with their version of the shade with very few distinctions between themselves and the original. While it’s all fine and good to have alternatives or possibly even a cheaper option, it’s the lack of creativity that sometimes frustrates beauty lovers. Give us something new, innovative, unique!

That’s where NARS hit it out of the park with the newly released single eyeshadow in Malacca.

NARS Malacca Eyeshadow

When I first heard about this shadow I really paid no attention to it (shame on me). I honestly thought it was “just another version of MAC Club…. that I don’t need.” It wasn’t until seeing it in person that I realized just how wrong I was.

MAC’s Club (and the other iterations of it) and I haven’t gotten along too well. The undertones of the shade pull too red on me and make me look tired or sick. Not something I aim to do, so it’s not really a shade I reach for. Many years I have listened to beauty lovers extoll the virtues of MAC Club only to be left on the sidelines because it doesn’t play well with my skin tone. But no longer!

NARS Malacca in formulation is perfection. It is smooth, pigmented and silky to the touch. It blends well in application and I don’t experience any heavy fall out. NARS describes this shade as iridescent peacock. I guess that’s as good a description as any I could muster. Sometimes it’s a cool brown, other times it flashes a teal-green shimmer and others it’s a mid-toned taupe. It is so many things at once that I can hardly contain myself.

The true test, though, would be how it compared to other “similar” shades I already owned:

NARS Malacca Eyeshadow Comparisons

Wet n Wild Comfort Zone Palette, Ellis Faas E305, MAC Blue-Brown Pigment, MAC Club, NARS Malacca, Too Faced Label Whore

NARS Malacca Eyeshadow Swatches

Swatches L-R: MAC Blue-Brown Pigment, Too Faced Label Whore, Wet n Wild Comfort Zone Palette, MAC Club, NARS Malacca, Ellis Faas E305

As you can see from the swatches above, NARS Malacca is unlike the other colors that came before it. It’s definitely more wearable on my skin tone, and the flashes of teal work so nicely alongside the taupe color it blends into.

You can see me wearing Malacca in my most recent video here.

Malacca is a must have for me. It’s what I have always wanted MAC Club to look like on my skintone! Have you checked this shade out or were you like me in thinking you totally didn’t need it?

 

Yes, spring is very near! Time to bust out the pinks and corals and of course, the cream blushes!

Here are my picks/thoughts:

 

I mentioned in my recent video that I had finally picked up Bobbi Brown’s rather famous blush in Pale Pink. A reader asked if I would do some swatches comparing it to a few other colors in the same family. As I love doing a good swatch-fest I happily obliged (thanks Shayna)!

Hot pink blush is something I have a hard time resisting, as you will see below. It’s just a fun, face-brightening shade that no one should be scared of- no matter how eye-searingly bright the color in the pan may seem!

Hot Pink Blush Comparison

The contenders, clockwise from bottom: MAC Pink Swoon, Illamasqua Nymph, Tarte Amused, NARS Desire, Smashbox Radiance, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Milani Delizioso Pink

All of my hot pink blushes are matte. I’m not sure if this was intentional or if hot pinks are really catered to that particular formula. In any case, all of these are beautiful in their own way and some are more similar than others. I believe Smashbox Radiance I have owned the longest and Milani Delizioso Pink is brand new.

All of the swatches below were done with the same brush on unprimed skin.

Hot Pink Blush Comparison Swatches Sun

Swatches L-R (in direct sunlight): Milani Delizioso Pink, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Smashbox Radiance, NARS Desire, Tarte Amused, Illamasqua Nymph, MAC Pink Swoon

The least pigmented is Pink Swoon and the most pigmented is NARS Desire, followed closely by Stila Custom Color Pink. NARS Desire is the most warm-toned of the group, along with Smashbox Radiance and Tarte Amused. Stila and Milani are definitely cool toned.

Hot Pink Blush Comparison Swatches Shade

Swatches L-R (in shade): Milani Delizioso Pink, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, Smashbox Radiance, NARS Desire, Tarte Amused, Illamasqua Nymph, MAC Pink Swoon

The best texture goes to Illamasqua, Milani, NARS and Stila- all of which were smooth and soft. The biggest disappointment is MAC Pink Swoon. Although it looks nice when applied when swatched it loses a lot of it’s luster, especially when compared to some of the other standouts in my collection. Lasting power goes to Bobbi Brown, NARS and Tarte. I haven’t properly tested Milani so I cannot compare that one yet. I don’t have a problem with wear time on any of these blushes, but the ones noted above stood out to me as being particularly long-lasting .

My overall picks? NARS Desire, Stila Custom Color Pink, Bobbi Brown Pale Pink and Tarte Amused. If you’re on a budget the Milani blush is a great option. Skip MAC Pink Swoon. It isn’t as pigmented and the color in the pan isn’t exactly the color you get applied. Illamasqua Nymph is lovely all the way around, but it really isn’t hot pink as much as it is a bubblegum pink so I don’t feel right comparing it to the shades above.

I hope you found this helpful! What’s your favorite hot pink blush? Is there anything I am missing out on?!

Two posts in one day! I’m totally giving myself a high five on that! The latest item on many beauty lover’s wishlists is the new NARS NARSissist eyeshadow palette. It’s just arrived on my doorstep and I wanted to share some initial comparison swatches and my first thoughts.

NARS Narsissit Palette

First, what is it? It’s a palette filled with 15 half-sized eyeshadows (14 permanent shades) for $79. Translation? Deal of the century. Considering that the full sized singles and duos featuring these same shades would set you back $24 or $34 each, you are getting an excellent bargain. It’s a great way for any NARS lover or someone new to the brand to expand their collection or try the most iconic shades.

I’ve seen and read mixed reviews on this palette. I’m offering my initial thoughts here. First, consider the fact that the eyeshadows have been compacted from their original sized pans to fit a much smaller space. I think whenever a powder product is made more compact it can lend itself to being slightly more difficult to use.  Secondly, it’s important to understand the NARS brand. It has some stellar products, I mean STUNNERS. Great performers in pigmentation and application. However, like everyone, it has some misses. To say I’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) getting to know the brand is an understatement. I have personally purchased 11 of their single shadows, 9 duo shadows, 20 of their blushes and probably two dozen lip products. I tell you that so can you can fully understand the time I have invested with this brand. I feel like I have a good grasp on their quality, consistency and artistry.

I will be keeping my palette. I love the concept, appreciate the forethought and overall came away feeling that it was executed in a way that will please most and disappoint some. I have wanted to try many of these shades for awhile but haven’t had the inclination to do so because, well, that’s a lot of money for the 10 shades I didn’t already own.

NARS Narsissit Palette Comparisons

It was upon my comparison swatching that I knew I would keep this gem. I swatched everything with the same brush on unprimed skin. I think it’s important to use a brush and not your fingers when swatching. I have been misled by my own eyes on several occasions because the finger swatch was ‘meh’, only to return to the product later and fall in love with it once applied. After all, I rarely if ever apply powder products with my fingers. Note the difference in size. As I said above, the shadows in this palette are all roughly half-sized. Fine by me as I have never actually finished a NARS eyeshadow before, or even come close to hitting pan.

NARS Narsissit Palette Comparison Swatches

Swatch Comparisons: Mekong (palette), Mekong (single), Lhasa (palette) Lhasa (single), Coconut Grove (palette), Coconut Grove (single), Madrague 2 (palette) Madrague 2 (duo), Madrague 1 (palette), Madrague 1 (duo)

My thoughts on the shades I already owned in single/duo form:

Mekong: The shades are similar. The single has more visible sparkle and is slightly less stiff (stiffness not as noticeable when using a brush) and slightly more warm toned.

Lhasa: Shades are very similar. Lhasa in the palette seemed slightly creamier. No other differences detected.

Coconut Grove: Shades are similar, but the palette version is better in pigment and texture. The palette is an improvement on the original!

Madrague Shade 2: The shades are similar with the palette version being a hair lighter. Texture of the palette version is slightly stiffer, but not as noticeable when using a brush.

Madrague Shade 1: The colors are similar but the palette version is creamier and an improvement on the original. The shades are difficult to see because they almost match my skin tone.

I don’t have all of the swatches for every shade to show you tonight. I wanted to do the comparisons first for those on the fence about buying or returning the palette.

The question of whether or not this palette is for you I cannot answer. Not everyone will like this palette, and that’s ok. Some will fall in love with it. I can say that, for me, I will enjoy testing out the shades I have been eager to try for awhile and that NARS did something that other brands should follow: they actually listened to what their customers wanted and delivered. In a big way.

Like any other beauty lover I get a little nosy and wonder what products people like to travel with…you know, those essential pieces that make time away from home easy. Well, at least in terms of makeup application ;)

As I prepare to travel for a few days I thought I’d give you a look inside my travel makeup bag and the items that made the cut for the trip.

Travel Makeup Base

My makeup bag itself is slightly pictured above. It was given to me as part of an entire travel set for toiletries, etc and has my initials monogrammed on the front.  It’s roomy and has pockets for smaller items. I’ve used this exclusively for any travel I’ve done in the last 2 years.

Base

Primers are essential for me, especially when I’m traveling for business and meetings. I need to know my makeup won’t be budging. Right now I’m favoring MAC’s Prep+Prime Natural Radiance for face and for eyes I’ve been loving the Smashbox Photofinish. It’s got a beige tone to it so it cancels out any discoloration and it really helps lock my shadows into place. MAC Face & Body has been my go-to foundation for a few months and is a welcome travel companion. It’s buildable, natural coverage and doesn’t break down on my combination/oily skin. All of my concealing needs will be met with Maybelline’s Eraser for dark circles (the illuminating shade) and MAC’s Pro longwear concealer. To set it all into place I’ll be using MAC’s Studio Careblend Pressed. Notice a theme? Mostly MAC, right? MAC makes amazing base makeup. Although their color line and collections grab most of the attention you shouldn’t overlook some of the amazing face products they offer.

Travel Makeup Blush Bronzer

Bronze/Highlight/Blush

My favorite bronzer of all time has to tag along for my journey, Laura Mercier Ritual. This needs to be permanent. Yesterday. I’ve also got two highlighting options, the RMS Living Luminizer for a more subtle look and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal for a bit more oomph. I always like to have a few blush options. This time I’m taking some newbies. Lorac Baked Blush in Exposed (a bright coral/peach) and Dior Mimi Bronze (a natural nude– thanks to gorgeous Andie over at Techno Cupcake for the push to get this beauty). I’m excited about giving these two some testing!

Travel Makeup Eyes

Eyes

This was the hardest category. For brows I’ve got my trusty Anastasia brow gel and Stila Stay All Day brow in medium. I opted for the original Naked Palette because it’s treated me so well on many travels in the past and I know I can count on it for daytime and nighttime looks that can be as business appropriate or dramatic as the occasion calls. I’ve also brought 3 of my go-to shades of Laura Mercier caviar sticks: Sugar Frost, Sandglow and Cocoa. These provide excellent glow and added drama when used as base shadows. For liner I’m bringing MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner in black and tucked inside the Naked Palette I’ve got my number one black liner of all time- Bare Minerals Round the Clock Liner in Midnight (I have three backups I love it *that* much). I will be attending a dressy cocktail party one of the evenings so I’ve brought false lashes and all the gear I need to apply them. I’ve gotten better at this over time, but I definitely could use more practice.

(not pictured is the regular mascara I’m taking- L’oreal Butterfly)

Travel Makeup Lips

Lips

I’ve not yet decided what my makeup looks are going to be so I wanted plenty of color options in the lip department. I’ve got a nice balm, Fresh Sugar Rose to keep things smooth. I’ve also brought along two of MAC’s new Huggable lip colors in Touche and Out For Passion (this formula is really nice!) for nude and rosy pink options with Marc Jacobs gloss in Kissability and NARS Gold Digger to top should I feel like taking it up a notch. And of course I couldn’t forget my favorite lip color- coral. I’ve brought two Becca items (thanks to beautiful Jenny from My Funny Valentine for the inspiration on these); their Lip and Cheek tint in Guava and their amazing Ultimate Colour Gloss in Pink Lotus (seriously, this gloss is awesome!). I’ve also added in Givenchy’s newest lipstick Le Rouge in Rose Dressing which is a dainty but slightly intense coral.

That’s it! It all fits in the bag! I’ve also got my favorite brushes tucked away and ready to go. One of the tips I picked up over the years is to pack my travel makeup bag a few days in advance and use only the makeup out of that bag. It will help me decide if there is something I’m missing or need to add.