i first heard of them as a "cult favourite" and the more i read, the more apt that description seemed. there were rave reviews and swatches on blogs and those who were into them were really into them, despite the fact that their products are fiendishly difficult to find, available almost exclusively to much of the world through british luxury cosmetics store zuneta. which piques a girl's curiosity. so i checked out their web site, which was just that more dangerous because it was so charmingly odd. meant to evoke images of both victorian england and the tsarist age in russia, the site [and the product packaging] is filled with whimsical, almost edward gorey-esque drawings of scenes from an enchanted garden, the basis of the fairytale that rbr gives as the genesis of the brand. you can read it here.
the brand truly draws you into its own world, where, along with extolling the more mundane features and benefits of their products, the playful minds behind the enchanted garden rekindle some of that innocent childlike wonder of discovering magical powders and creams that transform the world into a fantasy.
but the practical side of me wants products that are as stellar as the stars over the garden, especially since the prices for these little lovelies are not exactly faerie dust.
taking the word of other beauty bloggers, whose experience is broader than mine, i decided to take advantage of zuneta's post-holiday sale and see what all the hype was about.
typical of me, i jumped in with both feet, ordering two of their "when birds are singing" eye shadows, two of their "succulence of dew" sheer lipsticks [since when do i order sheer lipsticks on a first date?] and one of their "hues of enchantment" colour burst, fuller coverage lipsticks. well, what can i say? it was a really good sale. [fyi, as i haven't had the time to test it out thoroughly, i'll be reviewing that last lipstick on its own a little later.]
the most popular/ recommended shades of rbr eye shadow were actually out of stock by the time i got to the sale. [apparently, you have to get up pretty early- literally, considering they're on gmt- if you want to get the hottest items from a zuneta sale.] so i decided to try a couple of colours i hadn't seen often in reviews, but whose descriptions sounded intriguing- "periwinkle cardinal" and "angelic cockatiels".
this might be a good time to point out that all of rbr's eye shadows are named for birds, which is related to the tale of their origins:
The firefly festival is eagerly awaited all year in the Enchanted Garden. For then on this very special day, the best voices of the bird-world feed on tiny fireworks to embellish their voices and then gather to perform a single concert together. Their jubilant musical notes are inscribed in a syrup of figs and milk and preserved in tiny pots to be enjoyed all year round. Like this golden froth of musical syrup, WHEN BIRDS ARE SINGING... eye shadows are a time defying exotic enigma. This is plumage to adorn you in shades as deliciously mellow as soft silence that flows, or as brilliantly potent as jewelled notes. So addictive are these morsels that you’ll be causing your own kaleidoscopic ripples every time you wear them.
seriously, how scrumptious is that?
FOLLOW ME INTO THE GARDEN...
as far as the quality... dozens of women who test and write about beauty products on a weekly basis are unlikely to be wrong. this is one of those rare cases where something absolutely lives up to the hype. i'm tempted to believe that there is something to the fairy stories and that sprites are weaving these together from magical bird songs, because there is nothing i've tried that compares to the rich, creamy texture of these little powders. and that includes most cream shadows i've tried. the shades shift subtly in the light, much like bird feathers, actually and the application is so easy, it almost seems like the colours know what to do before the brush touches your eyelid. seriously, it's a bit spooky.
as far as the lipsticks, i was a little unsure of what to expect. i'd heard good things, but they aren't as widely reviewed as the shadows. however, i am a lipstick lover and i would just feel weird about not trying them.
as i mentioned, there are two lipstick formulas. the first "succulence of dew" are sheer colours, although, having tried them, i'd refer to them more as semi-opaque, as they seemed to deposit a fiar amount of colour on my lips. women with more pigmented lips than i might find the colour less pronounced.
|murmurings- up close|
|murmurings- human distance|
the formula is, once again, superlative. loaded with ingredients to soften and plump and lift and probably give public speeches for you if you're nervous, i highly recommend that you order whatever shade catches your fancy, because these are exactly what your lips want during the chill winter months. they feel velvety soft on application and they continue to feel that way. being sheerer, the colour won't last as long as really bright or dark lipsticks, but "murmurings" lasted as well as softer colours in chanel's "rouge allure" formula and "dark juices", despite being quite light, lasted even longer. even after four hours and a couple of cups of tea, it was still hanging around. both shades actually look lovely when they fade as well, since they do so very evenly. not ring of shame around the outer lips. neither colour showed any sign of bleeding, which is almost shocking for such a moisturising formula. the faeries know how to make a lipstick!
looking at the zuneta web site, i noticed this:
Be warned, once you fall down the rabbit hole and try this brand there is no going back….
they aren't kidding. i've fallen down the rabbit hole. i ate the mushroom. i smoked the hookah. whatever was going to get me in trouble, it's happened. the temptations of the enchanted garden are, in the end, too great to resist and until i can runaway and live there [i'm hoping that the cats won't cause problems for the birds and bunnies], i'm going to have to just keep sampling the divine powders and potions that they release into the world of mortals.
here's a little something i threw together with a couple of the above mentioned products. fyi, after more than twelve hours of wear, even the stalwart ysl shadow had started to fade, but the rbr was hanging tough.
mac prolongwear foundation "nc 15"
dr. hauschka concealer "01"
mac e/s "vex" [greenish ivory with pink sheen]
rbr e/s "periwinkle cardinal" [shimmery cool light green]
ysl e/s "slate green" [deep cool green]
mac e/s "birds & berries"* [deep teal]
mac superslick liquid liner "on the hunt" [black]
mac eye kohl "smolder" [black]
benefit they're real mascara
edward bess quad royale "south of france" [mauve-pink with gold shimmer]
mac blush ombre "springshine"* [tawny brown]
rbr l/s "dark juices" [mauve-taupe with silver shimmer]
*suggested alternates :: birds & berries = mac shimmermoss is lighter/ brighter, i have heard that rouge bunny rouge "mysterious tinamou" is actually very close to the same colour; springshine = benefit hoola
rouge bunny rouge is available around the world through zuneta and i would feel remiss if i didn't mention what a fantastic service they offer. their turnaround time to get me my order was less than a week- i received a shipping notification and the package was dispatched via courier. everything arrived carefully packed, so all that rushing to get it to me didn't endanger the product any. their prices are usually given in british pounds [although, if you want to add another layer of confusion, you can switch to american dollars]. after spot checking a few brands, pricing is equivalent to what you would pay in the united states. their sales, while competitive, are substantial, so it's worth subscribing to their newsletter to ensure you get a head's up. i checked the web site as i was writing this and most things seem to be back in stock.