Tom Ford

Strengths: Fantastic cream lipstick; beautiful eyeshadow palettes; a great brow sculpting product; a unique lip lacquer product; the majority of products are fragrance-free or contain minimal fragrance.

Weaknesses: An eye pencil that's overpriced for its quality; lackluster yet super-pricey foundations, including one with sunscreen that doesn't provide sufficient UVA protection; a mediocre eyelining product; an expensive and ineffective highlighting pen.

Summary: The dashing, debonair Tom Ford is one of the world's hottest fashion designers, famous and sought-after for his controversial photo shoots (featuring models showing more skin than clothes) and his classic, yet edgy, fashion designs. Ford came to prominence in the mid-1990s, when he became Creative Director at Gucci's fashion house. He is credited with bringing glamour back to fashion at a time when grunge and heroin chic looks were en vogue, and he helped take the then-failing Gucci from the brink of bankruptcy to a multi-billion-dollar brand.

A few years after Ford joined Gucci, brand was acquired by rival fashion house Yves Saint-Laurent. Ford became Creative Director there as well. Finally, in 2006, Ford launched his own fashion line of menswear, eyewear, fragrances, and accessories. Five years later, he followed in the footsteps of fellow high-fashion houses Armani and Chanel by launching his own line of color cosmetics.

Housed in sleek black packaging with "Tom Ford" stamped in prominent gold-embossed lettering, the makeup certainly looks luxurious, and the pricing is definitely in the haute couture range - the foundations cost $78! However, like many other fashion designer makeup lines, what's inside Tom Ford's range of products is largely unexceptional, especially given the expense.

Tom Ford's makeup and fragrance lines are owned by cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, so you won't be surprised when we tell you that much of what you see in the Tom Ford line isn't all that different from what other Lauder brands, such as MAC, Clinique, and Lauder's namesake line sell. What that means is you don't need to ante up for Tom Ford makeup, because most of what this line does well is available for less money from other Lauder-owned lines.

High prices aside, though, there are some winners among Tom Ford's small but well-edited makeup line. The lipstick, brow pencil, lip lacquer, and eyeshadow palettes are all high-quality and perform well. We're also pleased to say that most of the makeup products either have no or minimal fragrance, which is always a bonus - especially when you consider that this line got its start in the cosmetics field with perfumes and colognes.

Unfortunately, the foundations feature such ingredients as fragrance and lavender, which are both a problem for skin, and some of the other products, like the needs-sharpening eye pencil, are so common and ordinary that it makes the asking price a joke! Overall, Tom Ford has a handful of excellent makeup products to check out - and the counter personnel we dealt with were first-rate makeup artists – but be aware that you're not getting anything that justifies any of those products' high price tags. If anything, Tom Ford's makeup confirms what we've been saying about cosmetics for years: There are good and bad products in all price ranges, and expensive doesn't necessarily mean better!

For more information about Tom Ford Beauty, visit www.tomford.com.

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