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New complexion

August 24, 2008|Erin Weinger | Times Staff Writer

Target, which has won fans with its designer fashion collaborations, is putting a new face on the pair-up concept. Starting today, three premium beauty lines by celebrity makeup artists Napoleon Perdis, Petra Strand and Jemma Kidd are hitting the superstore's shelves.

It's an expanded beauty foray for the retailer, which partnered with Sonia Kashuk in 1999. Like Kashuk, Target's newest cosmetic cohorts have lofty pedigrees. Perdis, whose clients include model Skye Nellor, is the official makeup of this year's Emmy Awards. Strand has created a cult-like following for Pixi, a line that counts Kylie Minogue as a fan. And ex-model Kidd creates looks for Allegra Hicks and Philip Treacy's shows.

At first glance, the new celeb lines seem like an expansion of the concept behind Target's Go International collections, which bring to the masses affordable fashion, with lines by runway names such as Proenza Schouler and Jovovich-Hawk. But the retailer's latest attempt at luxury has a glaring difference: price. Instead of being discounted offshoots, many of the new products are priced on par with top-of-the-line counterparts sold at Neiman Marcus and similar stores. A plumping lip gloss in Kidd's Target line is a mere $3 less than a comparable plumper in her high-end collection. There are savings to be had, though. Pixi's Target Eye Bright Kit appears to be identical to Strand's higher-priced line -- and it costs $8 less.

How do the newcomers perform? We put a couple of them to the test, comparing them with the pricier originals.

Foundation

Napoleon Perdis' signature product, his Minimal Makeup SPF 10, is oil-free and sheer and can be layered for more color. Soft, satiny and light, it gave skin a porcelain-smooth finish. It's pricey at $40 for 1 fluid ounce, but it stayed put from morning to midday, taming an oily complexion.

The Target equivalent, NP Set Memory Foundation, is considerably cheaper, $30 for 1.76 fluid ounces. The back of the bottle calls this liquid a tinted moisturizer, and it's runnier than its upper-crust cousin, but it had remarkably good coverage -- and lasted two hours longer than a comparably priced foundation before needing a touch-up.

Bottom line: The Target product was good, but not great. And in a plastic squeeze tube, it didn't feel as though it should cost $30. Perdis' prestige foundation feels more luxurious and has built-in sun protection, but it would cost nearly $70 to buy the same amount found in his Target tube. When we win the lottery, we'll stock up. Until then, Target it is.

Mascara

Jemma Kidd Makeup School Semi-Permanent Lash Tint is the best-known product in Kidd's signature lineup. With a contoured brush that catches tiny, hard-to-reach hairs at the corners of the eyes, it performs like an actual lash tinting treatment. Though the $28.50 tube doesn't go for va-va-voom effects, two coats produce a natural finish that lasts 24 hours with no clumping.

Weighing in at $17 is JK Jemma Kidd Ultra Plush Volumizing Mascara, the Target line, which promises pumped-up, lengthened, supermodel lashes. It does thicken, but boy does it clump. We were left with severe, spiked lashes that stuck together. This mascara is not waterproof, but it stayed put through a sweaty, 85-degree day.

Bottom line: Kidd's signature product wins for its natural, lasting results. Her lower-priced Target volumizer did make our lashes big and bold, but a tube of Target's other drugstore brands will do the same thing -- sans clumps -- for about $10 less.

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erin.weinger@latimes.com

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