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Makeup: Stila's Talking Palettes
Makeup is women's sport. A flawless 1960s cat eye or smoky eye is the equivalent of a slam-dunk. Same goes for the perfect sexy red pout, seemingly as unattainable as the Stanley Cup for some of us gals. And because it's all in the execution, a few pointers never hurt. Consider Stila's line of Talking Palettes the cosmetics coach you never had.
What they are:
Compacts that, at the push of a button, instruct users how to get a look. Options run the gamut of the makeup Olympics, from the smoky eye (in four different shades) to a vamp red lip. I decided to try the Purrfect Eyes palette ($45) -- which supposedly delivers a 1960s cat eye worthy of Brigitte Bardot -- because it's a look that works for day or night. I also monkeyed with the Paint Your Pout Red palette ($45), which comes with three shades of crimson.
How they work:
In short, a talking tutorial computer chip is embedded in the compact. You push a button and the "lady," who sounds pleasant and slightly smug, like an adult prom queen, tells you in one minute how to complete each look, step by step, i.e. "dampen the rounded edge of your brush and apply the kitten lid color" -- a nude shimmery pink -- "from lash line to crease."
But do they work?
Well, the smug lady talks much too fast, and there is no pause button. To do my cat eyes, I had to start over from the beginning six times to get through it. Also, the Purrfect palette tutorial doesn't include instruction on the liquid liner included, so I assume they dropped that in later as a bonus. I prefer powder to liquid because it is easier to control, so I dampened the slanted brush and applied my liner that way. The black liner did slightly migrate down to my lower lash line during the day, which created an accidental but sexy smoky eye.
The pout palette is less strenuous. You apply some lip conditioner with your finger and then use a lipstick brush to paint your lips.
Yes, we can. The Purrfect palette delivered a great retro cat eye that made my husband simply say, "Eyes. Sexy." I am now addicted to this palette because the base and contour shades make it easy to master professional makeup artist tricks such as creating depth, and the flat-tipped brush allows you to create a straight cat eye at the lash line. It's a bargain too, because the four shadows alone, which include a base and a contour shade for the lid, would cost more than $50 if bought separately. Plus, the popular shade "Kitten" is a great staple to have for all occasions.
The instructions, rapid fire though they are, are helpful, but it turns out the real secret to sexy cat eyes is having the right tools, and there the eye palette definitely delivers.
The lip palette is no winner. Why? Other than providing a lip smoother, three shades of crimson (true, warm and cool red) and a lip brush, this compact doesn't offer much in the way of instruction. The lady states the obvious -- things like, "Fill in the entire lip area with the flat side of the brush." To keep the color from bleeding, which it did, I would have liked a lip liner. (Vampire chic is not advised for the 18-plus set.)