Thank goodness for MAC.
The cosmetics company sent the N&O Beauty Panel some of its newest matte lipsticks and an amazing thing happened: They all liked it. Well, as much as our Beauty Panel likes anything.
But Blistex's new Lip Infusion and Almay's Bare-it-all leg bronzer didn't fare as well. Find out what products made the cut in the panel's latest results.
Lips sync: shadow, balm and polish, too
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Keri Renewal Serum for Dry Skin
Jean Bailey: Most Keri products are great and this one is no exception. It did wonders for my dry skin.
Cary Edgar: What are polyhydroxy acids? Will they help to make my skin supple and smooth? After four days of testing, I'd have to say "no" to that question. While I applaud Keri for developing new products, this didn't work out for me. The consistency and appearance was closer to that of clear hair gel, which made for a sticky finish on the skin. This wasn't a fit for my normal-to-dry skin but I suspect this would be a great item for someone with oily skin.
Ilina Ewen: Urea, otherwise known as the chief solid component of mammalian URINE, is the second ingredient. Y-U-C-K. My biggest knock is that the serum left my hands sticky after applying it. This product did little to soften my scaly heels that only worsen as the temperature drops below 80 degrees. Could it be that the sample Keri sent us has an expiration date of 06/07?
Susannah Skiver: I felt like I was rubbing olive oil all over my hands -- a bit unpleasant. It made my skin feel soft in some places, but did nothing to relieve pesky dry patches, even after consistent use. Given the choice, I'll stick with my $4.99 Aveeno.
Art Stone: I was not sure what to do with this. Since it said nothing about face, I was afraid to try it there. Where else matters? It mentioned elbows and heels, so I tried it there. My elbows seemed softer. My heels are about the consistency of a cinder block, so I did not notice too much there. I found the consistency odd and a little difficult to wash off of the hands.
Lippmann Collection Nail Color
Jean Bailey: This nail polish reminded me of the ones that came in little girls makeup kits. It didn't seem to have any substance to it. Can you tell I didn't like it?
Cary Edgar: I keep my toenails painted red almost year-round, so I was thrilled to try this. The consistency was thick and smooth, allowing for staying power that lasted several days after my other brands would normally chip or fade. Despite this, I just don't know that I could bring myself to pay $15 for such a small bottle. For someone who uses polish regularly, this product would rack up quite an annual bill. Great quality with fantastic color, but the price really needs to come down.
Ilina Ewen: Um, can someone explain what makes this $15? Reality check here, folks, this is nail polish. You know, the stuff that cracks, peels and wears off after hours, if not minutes? I loved the color, nonetheless. I tried this on my last pedicure, and the color has worn quite well. With my lifestyle, however, this dark shade would never be realistic for my fingernails. It's the perfect fall shade for the ladies-who-lunch set. The consistency is rich and thick enough to have some substance but still apply easily. Back to the price. Anyone who can shell out $15 for. 5 ounces of nail polish should just opt for a biweekly mani-pedi instead.
Susannah Skiver: Some nail polishes are too runny, some are too thick. This one has the elusive perfect consistency which makes painting my nails fun again. Unfortunately, it chips and peels with the best of them -- not even a week after my first three-layer application.
Art Stone: (Who recruited his friend Julie to sample) Good coverage, easy to spread during application, dried fairly quickly and is still on my toes 10 days later with no chips or cracks.
Blistex Lip Infusion Sheer Liquid Balm
Jean Bailey: I like this lip balm, but once again, I don't like that smell of shea butter or vanilla.
Cary Edgar: My lips suffered a nasty windburn after the Marine Corps Marathon a few weeks ago, so I was hopeful that this product would live up to its claim of "relief for chapped or cracked lips and sunburn." But if this roll-on gloss would have stayed in place longer than 60 seconds, I would have had an opportunity to gauge its worthiness. The rolling tip was smooth and soft, but the slippery result had the staying power of cold butter on a hot biscuit -- dripping all over the place. While the glossy result was a decent finish to lip color after the windburn healed, this did nothing for my pitiful pout.
Ilina Ewen: As a bona fide (and self-proclaimed) lip balm expert, I deem this product bogus and worthless. Roll-on deodorant never turned out to be a big hit, so what makes the R&D folks at Blistex think the same concept would fly on lips? The only thing on the packaging that rings true is "ultra smooth rolling tip." Deep hydration -- nope. No waxy feel -- nope, but a slippery feel instead. Penetrating formula -- nope. This stuff simply wears off too quickly. Plus, no man I know would sport shiny, glossy lips that this balm infuses. Stick to the tried and true. ChapStick never lets you down.
Susannah Skiver: Oooh, what a cool sensation! The cold metal marble rolling over my lips provided some nice instant pleasure but had no lasting effects. The liquid rubbed off within minutes, and I found myself applying my old standby, Carmex, to give my lips both relief and recovery.
Art Stone: I tried this, but it seemed like I was wearing lip gloss from the '70s. Not the best look for a guy. I did not like the smell either.
MAC Mattene Lipstick Semi-Mat
Jean Bailey: I like this lipstick and the way it makes my lips feel, however it had that vanilla smell. What is it with that smell? Do cosmetic companies buy it wholesale or what?
Cary Edgar: The price for this is great, especially given the high quality of MAC products. And having previously embraced the classy and sassy virtue of red lipstick by our opportunity to test Smashbox earlier this year, I was thrilled to try another racy red. And racy it was. I tried "Seriously Rich," and first wore it to work on a casual Friday with dark jeans, a dressy white top, and black patent wedges. And although my coworkers later remarked that the color was "Actually, quite nice -- it's fun," one person's first reaction was "Wow, what devious plans do you have during lunch today?" Although the product claims a semimatte finish, I felt like it was matte-to-a-fault. Too matte. Crayon matte. Overall, a great product and a fantastic buy, but it is going to play second fiddle to my Smashbox.
Ilina Ewen: I've had a long, rapturous love affair with MAC lipstick since my friend Vicki gave me the shade "Siren" over a decade ago. Oh sure, I've strayed, and even had a long-term fling with Clinique's Black Violet. I've even flirted with Sonia Kashuk, L'Oreal and Benefit. Alas, no one trumps MAC (though that Smashbox lipstick we tested earlier comes awfully close). MAC has simply mastered matte lipstick. It goes on smoothly, comfortably, and beautifully, and it lasts without that dried-out feeling. My one knock is the garish "You Say Tomato" shade I tested. I started wearing it out in public just to gauge the looks I got. Let's just say that family, friends, and strangers alike looked at me with that upturned nose and half snicker look like I was walking around with tissues hanging out of my bra.
Susannah Skiver: I love this lipstick! Although the bright shade was a horrifyingly clownlike orange, once I tempered it with a neutral tone it was just right for a night out. The 40s pink shade was a perfect goes-with-anything shade, and I've worn it on several different occasions. Both lasted for several hours without need for reapplication, which was great for both class and club!
Art Stone: (From Julie) This stuff is my new best friend. Maybe I'm just sick of all the girlie, sparkly stuff, but this made me look and feel just the way I want to -- like a modern, professional woman. The packaging is a slim, sophisticated matte black tube. I used the neutral shade for day, the darker shade for evening drama, and added a sheer gloss around when I wanted to dress it up. I didn't need any other lipstick and cleaned out all the tubes cluttering up my purse. Thumbs up!
MAC Matte Eye Shadow
Jean Bailey: This is one of the best shadows I have ever tried. I wish it was in a cream form. Creams are easier to work with for me.
Cary Edgar: My choice for eye shadow is often shamefully Plain Jane. Pale skin tones and neutrals, seldom straying from this safe and respectable palette. But what a surprise it was to see the big difference that a little color can make! I love it! I tried Poison Pen, a deep hue of vivid purple that is showing up throughout this season's fashion. And although I wasn't heavy-handed with the brush, just the slightest bit of this color amounted to a gorgeous and unexpected new look. It provided drama, but without resorting to a hard eyeliner. The quality was spot on too -- no surprise with MAC -- allowing for consistent wear from breakfast to nightcaps.
Ilina Ewen: Love it. Love it. Love it. Never mind that despite being a faithful reader of Allure, Lucky, Glamour and Marie Claire, I have no idea how to wear eye makeup. This eye shadow was totally dummy-proof. It was easy to swipe on. The consistency was perfect so I didn't end up with flakes of shadow adorning my eyelashes and cheeks. The neutral shades I got were just right for daytime use. Thanks, MAC, for introducing eye shadow to my regimen.
Susannah Skiver: My jaw dropped when I saw these shades. How does one wear black and brownish-gray? I used Typographic as a liner; it worked well as a chunky thick line and I will definitely use it again. Blending Copperplate with a blue or lavender made it bearable, but I can't pull off the "smoky eyes" that look so good on Beyoncé. On the bright side, I got excellent wear from them -- no creasing or caking. I would expect no less from MAC.
Art Stone: (From Julie) Know how Carmindy (on TV's "What Not to Wear") is always touting a light, matte shadow for the lids and a darker shadow smudged along the lash line? And how I will only wear blue eye shadow when I'm in a Halloween costume? Well, she was right and I was wrong. And this is the perfect pair -- the shadow is easy to apply, doesn't smudge or smear, and lasts all day. Best of all, my eyes took center stage without any girlish sparkle. Loved it so much I wore it every day during the testing period.
Almay Bare-it-all-legs Instant Spray Bronzer
Jean Bailey: This really works! It works just like face makeup but on your legs. It covers imperfections and evens out skin tone.
Cary Edgar: OK now this, I just don't understand. Is it a self-tanner? Is it body makeup? Is it a bronzer? Following the directions, I sprayed this product directly into my hand and recoiled at what looked like heavy facial foundation squirting onto my palm. I gave it a good college try though, and smeared it across one leg before blending thoroughly. After allowing it to dry, I sat back and propped my legs up under the light for a side-by-side comparison. Although the Almay leg looked darker and more uniform than the other, and I wasn't able to notice as many imperfections -- the imperfections were still there. The color bothered me too, as it was artificial to the point that Loni Anderson's makeup habits came to mind. That's not good. I'll take my "imperfections" instead.
Ilina Ewen: Is this a joke? The "imperfections" that grace my gams are all due to those five extra pounds hanging on for dear life and all the other pleasant things that happen when gravity takes its toll. No bronzer is going to fix those problems. I did try this stuff in an attempt to mask a particularly long scar I got 24 years ago. The scar was not masked at all; rather, it was underscored with a streak of brown caught in the lines and folds. As women we have enough bogus "imperfections" to prematurely age us with worry, ah the irony of it all. Don't waste your money on this stuff.
Susannah Skiver: This was not the easiest to apply -- even spraying it into my hand, I still managed to get it all over the sink. And beware missing a spot, as it is obvious when you do! However, the drying time -- one minute -- was perfect for a quick application and it did wash off in my next shower. I didn't notice much of a difference in my skin tone, but then, I don't think I have much to "hide" either.
Art Stone: (From Julie) This stuff is basically spray paint for legs. It did turn my legs the color of panty hose, but when I followed the directions, it didn't cover veins or freckles as promised and still wiped easily off on clothes and fingers. I'd invest in a good pair of hose instead.