Autumn fashion: About face

We asked three women who use cosmetics every day to try out some of the new make-up products for us. Each tester was given a selection of nail colours, lipsticks, and eye shadows. Their brief was to examine not just the performance of the make-up, but also the packaging, with comments from friends or colleagues. Melanie Rickey reports

Eyes are the window to the soul

Products tested: Lorac, Benefit, Stila, Nars, Bobbi Brown

Sassie, a model with Elite Premier, liked "Pewter" by Lorac, but felt a bit too made up in it. "I usually wear light make-up when I go on castings, and this seemed a bit too much, but it was great to go out with - really shimmery." Sassie was also impressed by Nars: "My best friend kept trying to permanently borrow it, so I had to hide it from her. I will be buying more of this colour (Calypso) as soon as it runs out." Bobbi Brown also proved a success. "It was brilliantly matt, and excellent for during the day, but didn't work for going out." Sassie's boyfriend told her that "Marooned" by Benefit was the nicest colour she had tried so far, but it didn't turn out to be her personal favourite, which was "Kitten" by Stila."I loved it." she said.

For Dina, a professional make-up artist, Benefit scored high on the glam, fashion stakes, "`Hideout' is a great colour for now, it has a rich purply colour, that is Seventies in look, but Nineties in feel," she says. In contrast, Dina found "Light Brown" by Lorac very difficult to blend. "It seemed to stick to the eye, and made the models lid quite patchy, but the colour was excellent," she said. "I really loved Nars, it was great, the colours were really easy to apply with a brush or a finger, and it was creamy even though it was in was powder form, and the packaging is so smooth." Bobbi Brown fared well too, but the colours were too subtle, which meant when aiming for an intense eye make-up look, too much powder was needed. Stila was another favourite for the packaging, "My friends liked all the little quotes on the inside of the lids." Sharon, a black trainee make-up artist at the London College of Fashion, found each product had their own strong points. "Shimmer" by Lorac was particularly good for highlighting black skins, as was "Cloud" by Stila, which according to Sharon, "Blends like a dream". Nars turned out to be her favourite eye shadow, "All the colours are good, the texture is wonderful, it lasts really well on the eye, and the packaging is absolutely gorgeous too." Again Bobbi Brown was regarded as "a bit too subtle", but Sharon liked it for day, because it was perfect "for the no-make-up make-up look". Benefit, was found to be "too powdery and dry, but it blends well with other colours, and is very matte".

Just say to yourself I have very beautiful lips, then take your lipstick and apply it, OK?

Products tested: Bobbi Brown, Benefit, Lorac, Stila

Sassie tried a different lip colour each day. Her results were swayed by the colours she liked. Her favourite was Bobbi Brown's "Beige". "It was very, very sexy, trendy, and my boyfriend loved it, as did all my friends!" she says. "Farrah" by Lorac, was named after Farrah Fawcett, and is a shiny pink colour. "I did not like that colour, it made me look really tacky," she said. "Light Switch", by Benefit is not a lip-colour as such, it is actually designed to make an existing lipstick lighter, and "it works, especially if you need to tone down a lip colour quickly". "Rose Shine" by Stila, is a tinted Lip Gloss, Sassie liked the packaging, (a bit like a toothpaste tube), and found the product "very cute" although "it needed re-applying a lot".

Dina liked Lorac's "Julia" named after Julia Roberts, "It was creamy without being oily and tacky, and the colour was a lovely russet brown," she said. Bobbi Brown's "Mocha Stain" was her least favourite. "It was too greasy, too glossy and too oily, it looked patchy on, which is a shame because I love the colour." She found Stila's "Gold Shine" a multi-purpose cosmetic. "Even though it's a lip-gloss, it would look good on eyes, cheeks, lips, or even on top of another lipstick - the colour is great if you have a tan too." "Draped" by Benefit was also a bit too glossy for Dina's liking, but she said the colour would look good on an older skin tone, and is good for day-wear. Sharon found "Anjelica", by Lorac her favourite colour. "I loved it. It didn't dry, it was very glamorous, and brilliant for darker skins." "Honey" by Nars was good, too. "The colour had a real Sixties feel to it, but if your lips are not in perfect condition, don't wear it because it shows up any imperfections." "Depth Charge", by Benefit, makes lipsticks darker, and Sharon found it worked best with brown tones. "Brown Shimmer" by Bobbi Brown was "almost a lip gloss, with just a hint of colour" and looked good on everyone she tested it on. Stila was her least favourite. "It was too sticky, and difficult to apply with fingers, it is far easier to use a lip brush."

Hard as nails

Products tested: Hard Candy, Shu Uemura, Urban Decay

Sassie collects nail polish and was amazed to find she had no Shu Uemura in her collection. She loved 056, which is a deep Biba-esque purple colour. Her best friend took a liking to 056 too, and painted it on all her fingers and toes. Hard Candy's "Shy" was not as popular with Sassie, although she admits she already owns five bottles of it. "I was wearing blue last year, but I hear some of their new colours are brilliant. I love the free jelly ring you get with it," she added. "Roach", by Urban Decay, was "very cool" she liked the bottle, but found it difficult to apply, because the brush handle was "too short and awkward"

Dina also found the Urban Decay bottle difficult to manoeuvre. "Normally, you get a nice long handle, with a short brush, but this was the other way round. I did think the colour `Bruise' was fabulous; it needed two coats, but then it looked absolutely perfect." Shu Uemura's 069 was not as popular with Dina: "The dark green colour was interesting, but difficult to apply. It streaked and feathered at the edges, which I found surprising because usually I find their nail polishes excellent." "Scorn" by Hard Candy came out top of Dina's league. "The models and photographers I just worked with loved this, they said it looked really red and really shocking. It works well with just one coat, and the free novelty ring you get with the bottle is fun too." "`Manic' by Hard Candy was totally the wrong colour for me, creamy pale blue against black skin, a no-no," Sharon explains. Shu Uemura's 198, a very deep red colour, was her personal favourite, "It was the best colour I have ever tried, it went on evenly with one coat, and stayed on ages. When it runs out, I'm buying more." "Pallor" by Urban Decay is a nearly nude colour. Sharon found it applied well, and she liked the bottle. "It looks like something from the medicine cabinet".

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