Decluttering: Fall 2017

I wouldn’t consider myself a minimalist; although some would say there’s a lot of freedom that comes with being one. For the first time in a few years, I’m starting to put down roots-ish (with a lot of help from my significant other.) For the last several years, I’ve been bouncing from place to place and now that I’ll be in the same place for at least a good few years now, I have an actual vanity and with it, space for makeup. With this as well, my vintage/vintage reproduction wardrobe has also grown.

Despite this, I tend to make myself every few months go through my collection. I have a hard limit of 6 months; if I have not used a product at least once or I don’t love it anymore, it has to go. Even if there is a sentimental reason for keeping it, if I don’t use it, it’s time to lose it.

So, without further delay, here are the things I’m removing from my collection and why I am no longer keeping it.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation Stick

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I have had this product for a good few months now, at least since MUFE went ahead and added new shades (including my match, Y215) to the line-up. However, I don’t use it that often with good reason: it breaks me out. If I use this product more than one day (and sometimes, depending on how long I’ve worn it that day), I tend to break out and my skin gets irritated. The next morning, I’ll wake up with at least one giant blemish and usually with a lot of redness along my chin. My skin (in the same area) has the same reaction to the regular Ultra HD liquid formula, so this one and I are just not meant to be. (Which is fine, because Water Blend is my everything.)

There are a few other issues I have with this product: after a long day of wearing, the use of it really starts to show. I’ve had issues with the separation looking very obvious. With cream foundations, although they are marketed towards dry skin, they can emphasize patches so I also have to do a little more maintenance work in preparation for wearing this (I have to use a nourishing/moisturizing primer with it and can only use a Beautyblender with it; my paddle brush is too streaky.)

It looks great for photography, and that’s the only time I’ve actually been wearing it is for when I know I am going to get my picture taken. For me, for something that is $42, that’s not a great value for the product if I only wear it sparingly. This is a product I’ve worn within 6 months a few times, but because I can’t use it as often as I would like, I know it’s time to get it a better home than I can give it.

 

Besame Classic Color Lipstick

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This is one where the intersection of pinup crowd and makeup crowd who know me will be shocked that I’m putting a Besame lipstick up for decluttering. This particular shade is Wild Orchid, based off of a shade from 1952. It’s a lovely fuchsia-based color, but tends to lean very cool-toned.

And that is precisely why it’s going out the door (among a few other reasons.)

When I wear this one, the cool-tones are very pronounced. While I have cool-toned hair, I have an overall low-contrast appearance, which when adding the very bright (and therefore, high-contrast) Wild Orchid along with it’s cool undertones, it really throws off the coloring in my face and emphasizes any redness. In short: it’s not very flattering on me.

When comparing this to my beloved Red Velvet, I also find the formula is just a hair different. I’ve had Red Velvet for some time now and it’s still pretty creamy and easy to work with. Despite having had Wild Orchid (and I have used it within 6 months) for some time, I find it has gotten drier (despite having the lid on it) and a little more difficult to apply.

Because of those two reasons, I’ve been inclined to use it less. Since my goal is to actually use products, this one is going to a new home.

 

NARS Audacious Lipstick

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I had mentioned in a previous post that I don’t like the Audacious formula, but was holding onto Marlene for sentimental reasons. After having some important internal debates, I decided it was time to give up the ghost.

The reason this is going? I just have other reds I prefer to wear and when given a choice, this one always comes to the bottom of the list. The formula itself is the problem; it’s creamy to a fault and tends to transfer all over. Because it is also very pigmented, it also is difficult to remove so if that red bleeds all over? Enjoy the Joker look, because it’s going to be a hag to clean up.

I also put the sentimentality bug to bed for this reason: Project Chimps, a red I much prefer to wear, was also important to me. Before going into public health, I was a primatologist (though, chimps were never one of my focal species.) The point is: holding onto something I don’t like for sentimental reasons isn’t sufficient enough when there’s other ones I like more and are just as memorable.

For that reason, bye NARS Audacious.

 

Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Setting Powder

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As you may be aware, I am a lizard woman. Powders, in general, are not my friend. This powder, in particular, is not the friendliest to dry skin. I only use this to set my undereyes, but when compared to the Kat Von D Lock-it Setting Powder, it makes the skin under my eyes look much more crinkly and gives the appearance that I’m tired faster. This is because of the product being talc-based, as opposed to being cut with mica which doesn’t make it as drying.

For that reason, that’s why the Laura Mercier is going to be losing a spot in my collection.

 

MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil

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In general, I’m not the biggest lip liner fan. I don’t think most of them work that well. This one actually does work pretty well in terms of extending the length of wear and helping to keep product from bleeding out without drying my lips. In fact, I actually don’t have any problems with it otherwise and would strongly recommend it.

So then why am I ditching something that actually works? Simple. Kiss Me Quick is a hair bit cooler in terms of undertone than I prefer in my reds. BITE Beauty has a lip pencil in 082 which is a perfect brick red and the color that I normally reach out for when I want a red lipstick. There’s no real point to me having both, and I haven’t reached for this in months, so it’s time for this to go.

 

Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow

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This is a product where you can definitely see the use on it. I have used it quite a bit and it’s a terrific multitasker; you can use it as an eyeshadow, but also as a highlighter or lip topper. It has a decent wear time as both of those things in addition to the eyeshadow.

So, why ditch it? The honest answer is that I don’t like wearing highlighters, and in terms of brightening/shimmery shadows, I much prefer MAC Nylon. This is a sheerer shadow and it requires some build-up to get a decent pay-off on the eyelid (which makes it decent as a highlighter if you prefer less in your face ones).

 

And that will conclude this fall’s destashing. I regularly comb through and ditch stuff, so we’ll likely see another one of these in the next 6 months or so.

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

This or That? #1

There are a lot of products on the market that are similar. Some people consider them to be “dupes” (side bar: I loathe this term; a dupe, or duplicate, is something that is identical in formula, color, and consistency–most “dupes” are not that, they are alternatives), some might be knock-offs, but generally, they perform pretty similarly. As with most makeup-related products, your mileage may vary and what works for me best may not work for you.

In this particular post, I’m planning on comparing a few items that are intended to do the same thing but review how they perform and make a recommendation based on my experience with the product.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel vs. Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel

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In the first corner, we have the OG clear brow gel, Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH). It comes in one size only (though, I have a deluxe sample of it from a Sephora Rewards point spenditure). As you can see, the bristles are fairly large and resemble a mascara wand (which makes sense, since this is basically a clear mascara for your eyebrows).

The product specs for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel are as follows:

  • Price: $22 / 0.28 oz (making it $78.51 per 1 oz)
  • Ingredients: Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Butylene Glycol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tetrasodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes

In the other corner, we have the new(er) kid on the block, Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel. While the ABH brow gel wand resembles a stereotypical mascara wand, this is more reminiscent of the Roller Lash wand and has the bristles closer together and shaped depending on if you want to brush upwards or downwards. The product specs for the Benefit Cosmetics are below:

  • Price: $24.00 / 0.23 oz (making it ~$104.35 per 1 oz)
  • Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Alcohol, Acrylates Copolymer, AMP-Acrylates Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Extract. N° 10113/A
  • Cruelty-Free?: No

On price alone, the ABH gel is the much better deal. Even when comparing ingredients, I’m surprised at the cost of the Benefit gel given that the two primary ingredients are so cheap!

Speaking of the ingredients, an interesting difference between the two is that the Benefit gel uses copolymers, which are plastics used as an adhesive. Whereas, the ABH gel uses a lot of moisturizing ingredients primarily (glycerin, hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans, etc.) Yet, of the two, I find the Benefit gel to be more “hydrating” in terms of being less stiff and “crunchy,” as some have mentioned. Some people have said that they experience flaking with the ABH gel, but this was not my experience and I suspect this would be contingent on how dry someone’s skin may be near their eyebrows as to whether or not this is something most people would experience. I have not heard this to be the case for the Benefit gel.

The crunchiness factor does not bother me; most people are not going to be touching my eyebrows in a given day and I would rather something stay completely in place rather than less stiff with more flexibility (likely due to the plastics in the polymer ingredients.) The best way I can compare it to is like the strength of hair spray; some people will prefer a very strong hair spray even if it stiffens the hair because they need that strength to maintain the style. Others may prefer more flexibility at the loss of the “strength” of the spray. If you are in the former camp, you will likely prefer the ABH gel. If you are in the latter, take a peek at the Benefit gel.

In terms of longevity, I find both products work well. Although the Benefit is more flexible and softer to the touch, I don’t find that it moves a lot throughout the day and does keep product in place. ABH is stiff and stays in place. I have tested both for 12+ hours (and in humid conditions; New Orleans and Louisville on humid, 80F+ degree temperatures!) and both perform about the same. I also tested them with both the Anastasia Brow Definer and Brow Wiz and did not notice any differences.

The wands do have a difference and I do think it deposits the product differently. The wand for the Benefit gel is much more compact but with finer-tooth bristles, which allows for more precision when brushing upward or downward (depending on preference for brow shape). Because the teeth on the bristles are shorter and more precise, I feel like it deposits the gel better but I feel that to get the shape I want, it takes more strokes. Whereas, with the ABH gel wand, although the bristles are larger, it gets it to the shape I am looking for much easier and with less strokes (meaning, less product wasted.)

I think the real differences between these products come down to the following: preference for brow feel (stiff vs. flexible), cost, cruelty-free status, and/or wand preference. Although I think both are great products, going forward, I think I will be sticking with the ABH gel based on cost and wand preference.

 

Yves Saint Laurent Teint Touche Eclat Radiant Perfecting Pen vs. Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen

A disclaimer, before going forward: yes, I am aware that neither of these products are intended to be used as under-eye concealers. However, this is how I use them and will be judging them here. I typically wear a sheerer/light foundation, so higher coverage under-eye concealers would look ridiculous.

Let’s start with the OG in this case which is the YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Perfecting Pen, hereon referred to as YSL pen. This product has been around for years and is considered a cult beauty product. After having used it–I get it. We’ll get more into it in a second, so here are the specs on it (note: the ingredients change depending on shade–for me, I use shade 1):

  • Price: $42 / 0.1 oz ($420 per 1 oz)
  • Ingredients: Water, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Talc, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Peg/ Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Trideceth-3, Methicone, Methylparaben, Squalane. [+/- May Contain: Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77019 (Mica), Ci 77492 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77491 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77499 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77007 (Ultramarines), Ci 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide), Ci 77742 (Manganese Violet), Ci 75470 (Carmine), “NF8897”].
  • Cruelty-Free?: No

And again, in the other corner, the newer challenger–the Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen, referred to as Dior pen going forward. It’s obviously a very similar construct. It is worth noting that although the Dior is very clearly based on the YSL Touche Eclat pen, it is also not listed in the under-eye concealer page on Sephora’s website like the YSL is. The Dior pen also has more shimmery options available too. Take this as you will. The product info is below:

  • Price: $40.00 / 0.09 oz ($444.44 per 1 oz) (NOTE: Nordstrom lists the product as having 0.11 oz, whereas everywhere else is 0.09 oz…)
  • Ingredients: (NOTE: These ingredients were pulled from a 2007 listing on the CosDNA website. I no longer have the packaging to cross-reference. Given that this has been reformulated since then and nowhere online carries an ingredient list, exercise a grain of salt with this information.) Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Stearic Acid, Silica, Alumina, Diphenyl Dimethicone, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate, Methylparaben, Propylene Carbonate, Fragrance, Aluminum Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Algin, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Cellulose Gum, Talc, Mica, and Iron Oxides.
  • Cruelty-Free?: No

In both formulas, I use the 01 option which is a very strong but light pink best suited for pale to light skin tones. I know for some people, they may be confused because I have very clear and pure yellow undertones (with some red overtones on my chest/face.) When I use pink on my under-eyes, it is to neutralize blue/purple tones in the area. This works better for me than a normal concealer as the concealers will be more yellow, which won’t correct but only mask and on me, it gives a very unattractive reverse panda effect when it begins to set.

Neither are exactly intended to be used as under-eye concealers, but I think they both work effectively to neutralize and conceal my under-eye area. They also both are not drying, though, I wouldn’t say they are necessarily moisturizing either. (YSL may be a slight bit more than the Dior, though.) The consistency between the two is different; both are liquid, but Dior has more of a creamier, very slight bit stiffer formula whereas the YSL is more liquid. Neither are runny and will drip off your hands if you hold it at an angle.

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Dior Flash Luminizer on the left (more opaque), YSL Touche Eclat on the right (less opaque).

To a degree, the consistency issue may also be related to the fact that the Dior pen has a little more pigmentation when compared to the YSL pen. The two are similar colors, but as you can see from the swatches, the YSL is a much lighter pink whereas the Dior is a bit more peachy than pink and the color is much stronger. From this, I would wager that it may be able to work on darker lighter skin tones than just pale to light, but I would likely not recommend it to darker skin tones to avoid looking ashy.

As far as wear time goes, both products perform well over a 12+ hour time frame when set with a loose setting powder. It has been tested high humidity (80F+ degrees in both New Orleans and Louisville) and generally, aside from some minor creasing from the Dior pen, both have the about the same coverage and wear.

For the applicator itself, there is a difference in the brush length and quality. Both are click pens and to get product, you will have to click. I find I only need one click from the YSL pen to do my eyes, but two from the Dior pen for a daily application. The YSL bristles are longer and softer, which makes applying the product much easier. Whereas, with the Dior pen, I do find the smaller bristles are prone to poking my under-eye skin, which is something I really don’t like about it. Another thing I find irritating about the Dior pen is that the liquid is not equally distributed when you click; it wells up from the bottom and stays there rather than working its way up through the pen. In having it like this, I’m not able to use as much of the product which is a big deal when you only get 0.09 oz. I’m not sure if this is just the pen I have or if it is a true design flaw that impacts all of the pens.

After having worn them both, for me, I prefer the YSL pen. They’re both very similar, but the slight moisturizing factor and less scratchy bristles are what makes me prefer this to the Dior brush.

 

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder vs. Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder

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Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder on the left, Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder on the Right.

As a #lizardperson, I very rarely using setting powders for anything other than under-eye area. I don’t make a habit of using it to set my foundation because my daily foundation doesn’t transfer. With that in mind, this comparison is strictly in the context of setting under-eye concealer for both powders.

With that being said, let’s get to the comparisons and like the others, we’ll start with the OG (Laura Mercier) and work our way back to the new kid in town (Kat Von D)…

  • Price: $38/1 oz (also comes in a travel size at $23/0.33 oz, making the full size a way better value compared to the travel size which is ~$69.70/oz)
  • Ingredients: Talc, Magnesium Myristate, Nylon-12, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, EthylhexylPalmitate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Methylparaben, Lauroyl Lysine, Propylparaben, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Butylparaben, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Methicone. May contain: Ultramarines (Cl 77007), Iron Oxides (Cl 77491, Cl 77492, Cl 77499).
  • Cruelty-Free?: According to their website, yes, but others are suspicious.

Some initial thoughts on this one: I’m actually really surprised at the difference in value between the travel size and the full size version. I can’t imagine the bulk of the cost is really coming down to making a smaller size of the packaging, and the ingredients listed (talc, corn starch, soybean oil, etc.) are not that expensive to produce or obtain.

Also worth noting that Laura Mercier recently released a darker toned translucent loose setting powder earlier this year for deeper skintones, which is a nice gesture, but probably could have been done from the get go seeing as how the ingredients list isn’t different (in fact, they’re identical on the Sephora website) when comparing the darker ingredients to the lighter one.

This being said, we’ll move right along to the Kat Von D.

  • Price: $30/0.69 oz (making it ~$43.48/oz; also comes in a travel size at $15/0.19 oz making it ~$78.95/oz–much like the Laura Mercier, the full size is the better value)
  • Ingredients: Mica, Talc, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Myristate, Nylon-12, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Jojoba Esters, Benzoic Acid, Lauroyl Lysine, Polymethyl, Methacrylate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycine Soja (Soybean Oil), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Iron Oxides.
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes.

Again: still surprised the full size is the better value. I’m thinking it has to be cheaper to produce these loose setting powders in bulk. This also has ingredients which are fairly cheap to obtain or produce (e.g. mica, talc, soybean oil, etc.) so I’m not sure why it has a higher price tag per oz. Also, unlike the Laura Mercier, this one was only created as a “universal” loose setting powder so it only comes in one light shade.

Both of the products I have are the travel sizes, but the ingredients are not different between the full size and travel size. Now, when looking at the two, there are some stark differences. First, in terms of product appearance, the Laura Mercier is much more yellow compared to the Kat Von D which takes on more of a neutral tone. On the skin, though, this does not read accurate. As you can see from the swatches above, the Laura Mercier looks more neutral compared to the Kat Von D.

In terms of performance, both are effective at increasing the longevity and wear of whatever under-eye concealer I am wearing. However, having drier skin, this typically is not an issue for me as opposed to someone with a more oily skin type. Where the performance varies for someone with dry skin is whether or not it emphasizes the dryness. I find that the Kat Von D is much more gentle on my dry skin and doesn’t make my under-eye look more crepey by the end of the day (which is likely due to the mica being the top ingredient.) The Laura Mercier is much more drying on my under-eyes, as such, it would lead me to believe it may work better for more oily skin as well for the purposes of blotting and oil-reduction for overall facial wear. Both have been worn through multiple seasons (winter, spring, and summer), no noticeable differences except for the Laura Mercier being slightly more drying.)

In terms of the packaging, both are fairly similar. They are smaller versions of the larger, full size. If you travel, the tops will likely overflow with product (see above with the KVD; I went to New Orleans in the beginning of September and carried it in my carry-on. Still overflowing almost a month later, but this is because I barely use any.)

For this one, my pick goes to Kat Von D. The formula is more generous towards dry skin types, however, I am hopeful she will also release a darker version down the line. Additionally, I would not hesitate to recommend the Laura Mercier for oilier skin types or for those more concerned about stretching their dollar. They both perform and act similarly (in fact, the majority of the ingredients are comparable) that it just comes down to skin type and budget for this one.

 

That is all for now, but if you’ve tried either of these, what were your thoughts? Are there any other products that you think are basically the same thing you want to try? Feel free to share!

 

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

Pinup Anti-Haul #1

If you are a big fan of Kimberly Clark (and you should be!), you are probably familiar with the concept of anti-hauls. However, on the off chance you are not, the point of an anti-haul is to discourage empty consumerism and encourage empowered, thoughtful purchases. In the current pinup culture fueled by social media, it can feel very pushy to buy more and more so you can fit into that perfect aesthetic. I, for one, am not the type to buy mindlessly. Because I don’t get sent things for free (though, I would not mind if I did!) and money is a finite resource, it’s important to know I’ll be able to use what I buy.

The purpose of an anti-haul isn’t to be mean to brands and businesses (there are some I don’t like and won’t purchase from and there are plenty which I do like, but will not be buying because I’m going to be smart about what I do spend on!), but to be smart about what you do choose to spend your money on. Unlike a wishlist of things to pine over, these are things I know I will not be purchasing and why I will not be spending my money on it. While Kimberly Clark focuses on makeup and skincare, I’m choosing to focus on pinup related purchases.

For me, this also feels more like a “genuine” attempt to be reliving the pinup life of the 1940’s. Purchases were often tactical, and as such, it’s a nice way to be reliving that kind of culture. So, without further ado–here’s what (sung in Kimberly Clark voice) I’m not gonna buy~

Erstwilder Grease Brooch Collection

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Let me start with this: I’m not generally the type to collect brooches to begin with (or jewelry, for that matter). But were I to be the type that did, this is not the collection I would spend money on.

I was a theatre nerd in high school and still love musicals (hell yeah for Hamilton!), but let’s be honest: I’m not entirely sure Greased Lightning is going to be recognized on sight by most people. The “Eat Your Heart Out” is actually very cute and would be one that’s definitely something you can wear with multiple outfits, but that’s one out of quite a few in this collection. There are some others that are recognizable (Frenchy, Rizzo, and Sandy, for example), but these aren’t ones that I will use often enough (they don’t look like they would go with enough outfits, and may clash with styles other than the 1950’s) to warrant the $39.95 AUD cost (approximately $32.07 USD) per brooch.

While we’re on the subject of cost, I live in the USA and the shipping for these alone only becomes free if you spend over $100 (AUD). At the time of writing this, the conversion rate for $100 AUD = ~$80.28 USD. While this is better than a lot of clothing shops (ahem, Unique Vintage) and the conversion rate is in my favor. Without the $100 AUD, it’s approximately $9.95 to ship. So it’s an additional $10 (rounded, but close enough) for a $32 brooch? As much as I may like Grease, for $42 USD, this is not worth the money spent.

Be honest: how many times are you really going to wear Kenickie? (Name one person you know who likes Kenickie best. I’ll wait right here.) Is this something you’re really going to get use out of or are you buying into the social media hype and it’ll sadly just sit there on your vanity? Erstwilder has a bunch of other cute brooches you would be much more likely to get use out of wearing, if you truly need a brooch from them. But my answer is none because I will not be purchasing this collection because it’s not the one that I want.

(Side bar: we can all agree Rizzo was the best thing in that movie, right?)

 

Besame Cosmetics Cashmere Foundation Stick

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I love Besame Cosmetics. Out of all the brands currently on the market, Besame is one of my ride-or-dies. It’s the go-to brand for many pinups because of its dedication to authenticity.

The problem with adhering to authenticity in some ways is that when you only create several shades of foundation, there is in no way you are going to be able to represent a wide amount of the population. In addition to the three shades above, there are a few more in its line-up:

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But that’s it. There are 8 total shades in this foundation line. 8. In response to client requests for extending the shade range, they add they are a small family business and will be working on expanding the range. There is a chance you may be able to find a match in this line up, but unless you live close to the brand’s stores, there’s no way to test in person to really be sure if you fit in one of the current 8 options.

The product itself is $25 for 0.31 oz making it $80.64 per oz. While this isn’t completely outrageous, there are stick foundations by other brands with significantly larger ranges. For example, the Anastasia Beverly Hills foundation stick line is also $25 for 0.32 oz (~$78.13 per oz) in 29 shades, running a much larger likelihood of being able to find a match. So, not only is it [slightly] cheaper per oz, you’ll also likely be able to find a better match.

But let’s say you test out the Anastasia Beverly Hills formula and don’t find it to your tastes or skin type. There are more foundation brands coming out with foundation sticks, should you feel the need to replicate the Max Factor Pan-Stick experience (but with something that actually is your shade range and likely something you can test). There are plenty at different price points and with a variety of shade ranges that will meet your needs.

I know some people will say, “But I love Besame and I want to support a small, family business!”–that’s well, good, and commendable, even. At the end of the day: Besame is still a business. They still want your hard-earned money. If you are going to give it to them, give it to them after they have expanded their shade range and are willing to make shades that cover more than just 8 skin tones that probably don’t include yours. Reward them when they have done something to earn it, not just because the pretty packaging makes you feel glam as hell and you might be featured on their Instagram page.

I don’t need the foundation stick and I won’t be buying it.

 

Ben Cooper x Vixen (Micheline Pitt) Collection

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I have to be clear on this one: I love Micheline Pitt, her style, her dedication to artistry, and her work ethic is inspiring. Her clothing line is outstanding and very high quality, based on the pieces I have and having owned items from Deadly Dames. It’s clear to me that she poured her heart and soul into this, and she is the one true Queen of Halloween.

Having said this, there are several reasons I won’t be purchasing anything from this collection. The first being: Halloween is once a year. While this is great for that time between summer ending (which I guess starts September 1st when Starbucks pulls a dick move and gets rid of S’mores Frappuccinos–not that I’m bitter or anything) and Halloween, how often are you really going to wear pumpkins or Halloween-themed items throughout the year? Are you really going to wear it often enough or are you only going to wear it for a period of maybe 8 weeks out of the year? If that’s the case, you’re only wearing it for 15% (8 weeks / 52 total weeks of the year) of the year; is it really worth spending the $78-144 on it? (This is not even including shipping!)

Personally: I am not a Halloween stan. I’m not a person who jumps for joy when fall rolls around (gimme back my warm temperatures and S’mores Frappuccinos). Although this is an interesting collaboration and it is executed well, it’s not going to be something I would wear enough to warrant the money spent, and I don’t care enough about Halloween to wear it. If I feel like I need to celebrate Halloween, why not invest in a black skirt or dress? It’s something I’d get much more use from, could wear year round, and therefore, a better use of my money.

That’s it for this first anti-haul. Do you have anything you don’t plan on buying? Or is there a reason you’re buying anything from this list? Feel free to share your thoughts.

 

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

The Red Lipstick Collection

“Heels and red lipstick will put the fear of God into people.” – Dita Von Teese

There is a very stereotypical pinup image: black winged liner, victory rolls, polka dots, and red lipstick. There’s a million and a half quotes on red lipstick and how empowering it is to wear. To be clear, I love red lipstick; it’s my favorite color on myself and I truly agree that it works wonders to boost a mood. This being said, red lipstick is high-maintenance and often requires multiple check-ins, much more than your MLBB (My Lips But Better) or Nude shades, and definitely require a mirror, time, and much more precision to apply.

Red lipstick is also much like a wedding dress in the way that when you know you’ve found the one–you want to wear it and show it off. Some people are monogamous to their red lipstick, but for me, I have several that I really like and vary between.

The perfect red can be hard to find, but I have found it to be generally easier when you know your undertone (reminder: mine is yellow, and as we’re leaving summer, I’d approximate it close to NC15 in MAC terms.) Knowing that I also have blue eyes, I also prefer reds that have more of a touch of brown to them, which helps my eyes pop a little more than they usually would. I don’t prefer orange-based reds because it’s just a smidge too bright on me and helps to wash me out

All this having been said, I also wanted to include my personal collection of reds with swatches and some reviews, seeing as how I have worn each multiple times and for several hours on end.

In all of the swatches, I am not wearing any foundation and nor is there a lip liner below. My lips are not fairly pigmented, so they do tend to represent the colors well.

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MAC Chili Lipstick

  • Purchased from: MAC Pro Store Chicago on Michigan Ave (can also be found on MACCosmetics.com, Ulta, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, and anywhere MAC Cosmetics are sold)
  • Price: $17/0.10 ($170 per oz)  (NOTE: It looks like MAC recently raised their prices to $17.50; when I purchased this, it was $17)
  • Formula: Matte
  • Cruelty-Free?: No

MAC Chili was one of the first reds that made my heart stop the moment I saw it on myself. I’ve always looked for a true brick red on me and this has been the closest I have come to finding that balance of mutedness and just the right amount of brown tinge without going too far into brown lipstick.

Given that it does have a muted quality to it, I think this is definitely a red that can be used in both the office (depending on your work environment, of course!) and for a night out. As it is a matte lipstick, it also doesn’t have very much of a glossy sheen to it, which helps when you’re trying to balance the line between “professional” (again: ymmv depending on your contextual work environment!) and pinup.

There is definitely transfer with this lipstick and of the options included in this post, probably has the second lowest longevity. This being said, depending on how much and what you are eating has an effect on the wear of it. If you are not eating, you can get 7-8 hours of wear without touch-ups no problem. However, this is not realistic for most people and if you do eat, you will need to reapply. I generally find that I wind up taking off this lipstick before I eat, regardless of whether or not it is with a fork or if it is greasy or not. This just helps to stave off the Joker look. If you do not remove it before eating and do not reapply, you’re likely to get 4-5 hours of wear. (Again, red lipsticks tend to be more high maintenance.)

As with all MAC lipsticks, it is a scented lipstick and has a light, vanilla scent to it. Given that MAC has been around for some time, most folks familiar with makeup and MAC are aware of this already. The Matte formula is one of my favorites, but I loathe the Retro Matte formula. Compared to the Retro Mattes and with this lipstick, there is no drying feeling or dehydrated lips when I remove it and it does not crumble off throughout the day.

The other nice thing about this shade that is worth mentioning is that I think this would work really lovely on darker skin tones just as well as lighter ones. Again, I would probably still recommend it for yellow/greener-olive undertones, but nonetheless, I do think this is a shade that works for a lot of folks with that particular undertone.

 

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NARS Audacious Lipstick (Marlene)

  • Purchased from: Sephora (available at NARSCosmetics.com, Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, Barney’s, and anywhere NARS is sold)
  • Price: $34/0.14 ($242.86 per oz)
  • Formula: Satin/Cream
  • Cruelty-Free?: At the time of purchase, yes. However, NARS has recently made the decision to sell in China which means the cruelty-free status will be no longer effective once this is done.

If you have followed me on Reddit, you will know I have done a fair amount of complaining about the NARS Audacious formula on the makeup subreddits. I had bought several when it first came out (Charlotte, Anna, Rita, and Janet), and while I loved it initially, I really grew to dislike them and wound up purging them from my collection. On the surface, they seem great: incredibly pigmented, there are colors that are not easily replicated among other brands, decent size for lipstick (0.14 compared to the usual 0.1-0.12ish) which makes it cheaper than most other high end brands when compared price per oz, and it’s a pretty decent sized collection. I get it.

But every time I put on one of these lipsticks, I’m reminded why I don’t like this formula. It’s creamy to a fault; if you don’t blot this, it will smudge onto your face. And even if you do blot it, it can still easily migrate off your lips. It transfers very easily and if I’m not careful, I have wound up with it on my nose. I also find that not even wearing a lip liner really helps with preventing it from going beyond the lined areas. When I wear this, it is slightly drying on my lips. 

I would also strongly recommend removing this before eating. Without eating, I have gotten up to 8.5 hours of wear without issue, but when you eat, regardless of how you do it, it is going to smear. And when this stuff smears? It leaves a very difficult to remove stain on your face (which is a testament to its longevity, except on the wrong part of your face.)

So, if I don’t like this so much, how come it’s still in my collection? That’s a great question. The short answer is twofold: 1. My significant other’s grandmother’s name was Marlene and for our wedding day, this is the lipstick I intend to wear to recognize her presence in spirit. The other, 2. I get hella compliments whenever I wear this shade. As a vain lizard woman, I can live off of compliments, so thus, it stays.

I would probably not recommend this one for work. It’s just a bit too bright and glossy for my personal tastes, but on the weekend or when I need to get dolled up? It’s one of my options definitely on the table. But, of all my red lipsticks, because of the high maintenance involved with the formula, it is my least worn shade of red.

There are some good things about this lipstick. It does not have a scent for those sensitive to smells. The packaging is very nice and hefty, with a magnetic lid for safe closure. Although it is also a brighter red, it’s not bright enough to be blinding on my skin tone but add some life into my skin. Also, when I want to be really authentic with my 1940’s looks, this red makes a lovely blush when I dab a little on my face (side note: as a blush, this formula is pretty great.) It also reapplies fairly well, which is important with red lipsticks.

 

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Besame Classic Color Lipstick (Red Velvet)

  • Purchased from: BesameCosmetics.com (also available through Sephora, Dermstore.com, and several other retailers)
  • Price: $22/0.12 ($183.33)
  • Formula: Satin/Matte
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes

Red Velvet is a fairly famous shade online, used in several movies and TV shows (most famously, the shade used by Peggy Carter for the Captain America and Peggy Carter television show.) It’s a deeper, true neutral red. On me, it does tend to lean slightly more blue-based and cooler (as seen above and in the swatches below), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Despite this, I still find that it flatters tons of people with yellow/olive undertones. The other perk about this leaning blue-based is that it tends to make teeth look whiter.

As many in the pinup community are aware, Besame Cosmetics is a company that reproduces actual vintage lipstick colors. This particular shade was based on one produced in 1946.

This lipstick is arguably one of my favorites in my collection, and not just because it is Peggy Carter approved. The quality is outstanding; like the other lipsticks, it is not transfer-proof, but I don’t find that it smudges as easily. Despite being listed as a satin, it does have some matte qualities (though, I hesitate to call it a demi-matte because of a “glossier” appearance.)

I have gone 9 hours without a touch-up on this before and that is despite drinking coffee and having food (albeit, not greasy and with a fork). It will smudge if the food is oily, but that’s pretty understandable.

The lipstick does have a vanilla scent to it, similar to the MAC lipsticks. However, unlike the MAC lipsticks, one thing that makes it really easy to apply and reapply on the go is that the bullet shape is slanted, which is great when trying to get in the little crooks of the lips.

Out of all the lipsticks I own, Besame’s formula ranks in my top three. It’s solid, dependable, and definitely one I go to when I want to recreate my Peggy Carter cosplay or when I feel like I need to wear a red at the office, this is my go to. It’s a shade that works on multiple skin tones and I have yet to see look “off” or bad on anyone. It’s the closest thing I have seen to a universal lip color (sit down, MAC Russian Red and Ruby Woo.)

 

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Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick (Project Chimps)

  • Purchased from: Reddit Makeup Exchange subreddit (purchased with my own money); product was limited edition but available through Sephora and KatVonDBeauty.com)
  • Price: I paid $17 for it as it was never used. However, it retailed for $20/0.22 oz, making it ~$90.91 per oz)
  • Formula: Matte
  • Cruelty-Free?: Yes (also vegan)

This lipstick has a special place in my heart. Prior to going for public health, I studied primatology. I had gone through field school and did several research projects, including an individual one of my own with semi-captive lemurs. Although chimps are not my particular favorite ape (that honor goes to gibbons), it’s a lipstick for charity and I had missed out when it was first released so it felt like it was something I needed in my life.

And boy, am I glad I have it. I wasn’t on the liquid lipstick train prior to this; having previously tried Kat Von D’s ELL formula in Outlaw a few years back, I hated how it wore on me (it wore away within an hour of application and smudged horribly) and I was wary that I would have liked this one.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded with this one. Application is probably the most difficult thing with this lipstick; one layer is all you need and it can be difficult to get just right at the top of your lip line.

When applied, it dries fairly quick and is very lightweight. There have been times I have forgotten I was even wearing a lipstick until catching myself in the mirror. It wears a very long time, but it’s another one I would recommend removing before eating. Greasy foods can definitely make this product smudge.

Speaking of reapplication, it fairs all right with it, so long as you are not applying multiple layers. When this happens, it doesn’t remove the other information, but it doesn’t build well. One layer is truly all you need and it’s better to remove and then reapply than just flat out reapply.

Additionally, the product tends to have a chemical smell, although it dissipates quickly.

I have worn this into the office before and it’s a really nice product. It’ll transfer slightly onto my coffee cup, but not enough that it’s very noticeable. It’s longevity, lightweight formula, and the color are reasons enough for me to love it. I wish it wasn’t a limited edition product, though!

 

Entire Collection Swatched

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From left to right and taken in indirect sunlight: NARS Marlene, Besame Red Velvet, MAC Chili, and Kat Von D Project Chimps.

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From top to bottom in direct sunlight: Kat Von D Project Chimps, MAC Chili, Besame Red Velvet, and NARS Marlene

 

All of the above are my favorite reds which tend to share a more muted, brick red color rather than a blue-based red (though, I do have one!) Have you found your perfect red? Feel free to share with me which reds have your eye!

 

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

#MakeBlueEyeshadowGreatAgain

Much like leopard print and mutton chops, blue eyeshadow is one of those things that immediately and knee-jerkingly provoke images of dated, “tacky” vintage in the hearts of many. Or, if you have a soft spot for late 90’s through early aughts television, it invokes the image of Mimi Bobeck from The Drew Carey Show.

This is unfortunate. Blue eyeshadow is one of those things that can really make a person’s eyes pop, depending on the shade.

Although it didn’t start in the 1960’s (it was used commonly in the 1950’s), it was a very popular shade during that time. This was also the time makeup started to help evoke an individualized identity beyond fitting into standard society. Looks became more diverse (especially compared to the 50’s, where looks were largely the same across the board) as subcultures started to grow, especially as the Civil Rights and feminism became more of an issue for many. People wanted to be less cookie cutter, and with it, so did their makeup trends.

Given that we’re fifty years out and still having similar issues today of individualism vs. collective society, I’m all for bringing back blue eyeshadow to help establish individuality. Here are some ways in which blue eyeshadow contributed to doing that during the 60’s.


Mod Style Blue

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When you think of mod style, there is one name that jumps out at anyone familiar with the subculture, and that is Twiggy. The particular pastel shade of blue she wore made her eyes pop, particularly when paired with her trademark dramatic cut crease.

Mod subculture was started in Great Britain in the late 1950’s, eventually coming across the seas and influencing Americans. Some of the hallmark traits included an affinity for modern jazz (hence the name), sharp Italian clothing with bold, geometric prints and bright colors, and was an extension of beatnik culture. Prior to mass commercialism, many individuals who identified as mod were highly interested in pursuits related to philosophy and art; this was the onset of when clean cut began to be phased out by longer hair styles (for men and women) and higher hemlines on skirts.

As such, with the boldness and brightness came an affinity for pastels, including blue, as seen above.

 

Glamorous Steel Blue

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Although the youth were beginning to diversify their makeup, there were still many women (especially in high society) that clung to glamorous looks. Blue eyeshadow, although not created in the 1960’s (it was worn in the early 1950’s), still had a hold on many women.

In higher society, the blue eyeshadow tended to take on more of a gray-ish tone; another way of holding onto past years. Gray eyeshadow was very common in the earlier century, and this cooler, gray-toned blue helped bridge the divide between the youth of the day and traditional glamour.

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This being said, it was not the only way. Max Factor was a brand that also largely worked in the movies up until being sold in the early 1970’s. During the 1960’s, it had expanded into department stores (think of it similarly to brands like Clinique or Estee Lauder today.) The subculture which embraced it tended to prefer matte formulas (as seen above and the “Monteil Look”), whereas more youthful looks gravitated towards less matte and more shine.

 

Movie Star Blue

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In 1963, a little movie by the name of Cleopatra came out, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. As far as Hollywood stories go, it is one of the most famous for several reasons; the intrigue between Taylor and Burton, the sheer amount of time it took to film (and how long the film runs in general), and behind the scenes conflicts. When the movie came out, there was also a marketing push for Revlon to create a product line and tutorial inspired by the movie. A copy of these images can be found at She was a Bird.

This look is one of the more iconic Hollywood roles and has been replicated several times over by celebrities and magazines when trying to remember Hollywood nostalgia. Alberto de Rossi created the initial look, but when he became too ill to continue to assist on the movie, Elizabeth Taylor herself was able to reproduce it successfully enough to paint it on herself and was filmed doing so in a future movie.

As a sidebar: although it was not an issue back then (especially for the commercial aspect of selling the movie), it likely wouldn’t fly today without (and reasonably so!) controversy behind having a white American woman play the role of an Egyptian woman. Please exercise consideration if this is a look you intend to pursue; culture is not a costume and nor should it be treated like it!

 

 

Bringing it back to today:

There are tons of brands today that create a blue eyeshadow to suit multiple skin tones and with various finishes. Professional brands such as MAC Cosmetics and Make Up For Ever have a wide variety available for purchase.

For me, personally, I am a huge fan of Sugarpill Cosmetics’s Home Sweet Home. Sugarpill Cosmetics is a brand that is cruelty-free and this particular shade is vegan. It’s a well beloved brand, particularly in the drag art community for the variety of colors it offers.

Home Sweet Home is a perfect matte, powder blue formula that really encapsulates the pastel shade of the era. It is a cooler shade of blue, but not so cool that it would be difficult for people with yellow or warmer undertones to pull off. I do think it would work well on darker skin tones, but I would be concerned about it potentially being ashy on very dark skintones.

In my experience, it requires a base shade (so something closer to your natural skin tone first) to go down first before you get the intended pay off and it has to be layered. Some people may not prefer this, but with these colors that can be punch-in-the-face bright, I personally prefer it because I would rather build it up. Additionally, another perk of that kind of formula is significantly less fall out (or less of the powder falling off your eyes and onto your face).

Whenever I do not use a base shade (as seen above), it actually tends to pull more gray on me, and I suspect this is largely due to my yellow undertones. If that is a look you are intending to recreate, this is how I would recommend doing it, but I cannot guarantee people with olive, beige, pink, or neutral undertones would be able to have the same effects due to skin pigmentation.

As an eyeshadow itself, even if I use my tried and true eye primer, I find that it does fade by the end of the day in color and becomes less opaque. This is not a concern of mine, but as I want to provide an honest review, if this is a concern of yours, it may be something to consider prior to making the purchase.

Although things have changed since the 1960’s, I still think it remains the same that blue eyeshadow is a characteristic to help establish your identity and what subculture (if any) you may belong. Today, some might think blue eyeshadow is a characteristic of a time long ago, but it still can be used in fresh and vintage-inspired ways to show who you are.

A Mascara Comparison and Review: Part 1

I have been watching a lot of Game of Thrones, with the season finale airing last night and on my mind. Now I think I am Daenerys Targaryen because obviously, as a lizard woman, she appeals to me. (Also, I can stand blisteringly hot temperatures in the shower and my significant other is long-haired and sort of looks like Khal Drogo if you squint, so that basically makes me her, right? Right. I knew you guys would agree.)

As far as beauty goes, the only two brands that may be able to get me even sort of close to bend the knee in loyalty are MAC Cosmetics and Make Up For Ever, and even then, I can’t profess absolute fealty. I swear no allegiance to one brand for everything, and for these two brands, the mascara offerings are not sufficient for my demanding* tastes.

(* = does not smudge, flake, or irritate my sensitive, contact-wearing eyes but also volumizes and separates. I have no need for lengthening in a mascara because although blonde, my lashes are long.)

As such, I have decided to give a few brands a running shot to joining House Gimlet, but whether or not they “bent the knee,” well–keep reading.

Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Babydoll

  • Price: $32 for 0.2 oz
  • Purchased: Sephora (full price; can also be found at Nordstrom and YSL Beauty website)
  • Ingredients: Water, Paraffin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Acrylates Copolymer, Cera Alba/Beeswax, Copernicia Cerifera Cera, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Steareth-2, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Acacia Senegal, Ethylenediamine/Stearyl Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Fragrance, Disodium Edta, Magnesium Silicate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Tin Oxide.

I don’t know why the hell these brands insist on having names that are like this. I know it’s partially a marketing thing and for the price of this, it better impart a sense of glamour for something I’m supposed to only use for three months before tossing. (Except I didn’t because I’m asking for an eye infection because gotdamn, you guys, $32 on a mascara is not something I am keen to use for only 3 months.) It’s also worth noting I used this from May up until late August, wherein I stopped because I just got annoyed with it. Could I have probably used it for longer? Sure, but I didn’t want to, so take that as you will.

I’ve sampled a few YSL mascaras in my time, and although the ingredients list a fragrance, I can’t smell one. But as an aside: WHY. I’ve railed on them for this before and I will continue to do so; there is no reason for a mascara to have a scent. My eyelashes don’t need to smell like anything. No one is sniffing my eyelashes or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Sass aside, something I actually really do like about this product is the shape of the bristle. I find that bristles that tend to be “spikier” tend to work better with my lashes in keeping things separated and adding volume. I don’t find that they clump as much on me and so long as I’m not half-asleep, I’m pretty decent at avoiding stabbing myself in the eye with it. In this particular mascara, I don’t find that I have to worry about clumping as much because of that bristle shape and how it works with my lashes.

I also find the formula itself is not exactly dry (because of my eyes, I prefer to avoid drier mascaras), but it’s not sopping wet. It’s a really nice middle ground and I definitely do not need to rub excess off on the side of the tube when taking the wand out. For the price, the formulation is very nice.

For those that are considerate of this, YSL is not a cruelty-free brand. I do not specifically buy products on cruelty-free status alone, though, it is a nice perk if it is.

Now, as you’ll remember, I have a very specific criteria whether or not I like a mascara. In case you forgot, here’s how it stacks up to my needs.

  • Smudges? ❌ It sure does. I put down a layer of setting powder on my eyes to try and reduce the oiliness of skin and foundation to try and get it to be rubbed off, but it still smudges within 5 hours of wear on me regularly.
  • Flakes? ✔️ Fortunately, it does not! No flaking has ever been noticed in the 3+ months it’s been used.
  • Eye Irritation? ✔️ Another fortunate no, despite the presence of fragrance as mentioned earlier.
  • Volumizing? ✔️ Yes, I do notice that it does volumize, but not as much as I would like, especially at the price it retails for.
  • Separates? ✔️ Oh yes. If separation is the main thing you look for, this is what this mascara excels at. Where it drops the ball in volumizing, it makes up for tenfold in separation, largely due to the shape of the bristles

Now, ultimately, the main question: would I repurchase? Yes, but only if it were discounted. There is no way in hell I would be paying full price for this with the amount of smudging it does regularly. I think it would actually serve as a nice first layer of mascara and possibly work well with others.

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara

  • Price: $10 for 0.09 oz as the travel size (larger size is available for $27.50 for 0.27 oz; making the full size a better bargain at $101.85 compared to the travel size at $111.11)
  • Purchased: Ulta (full price; can also be found at Nordstrom, Sephora, Macy’s, Estee Lauder website)
  • Ingredients: Water / Aqua / Eau, Stearic Acid, Myrica Cerifera (Bayberry) Fruit Wax, Sucrose Polybehenate, Polyisobutene, Polyvinyl Acetate, Paraffin, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Isostearic Acid, Panthenol, Pantethine, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax / Cera Carnauba / Cire De Carnauba, Kaolin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cholesterol, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, PTFE, VP / Eicosene Copolymer, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Sodium Polyacrylate, Simethicone, Polyester-5, PVP, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hexylene Glycol, Nylon-6, Laureth-4, Nylon-66, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Chlorphenesin, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Mica, Black 2 (CI 77266), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Copper Powder (CI 77400), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Carmine (CI 75470), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Aluminum Powder (CI 77000), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Blue 1 (CI 42090), Bronze Powder (CI 77400), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Ultramarines (CI 77007).

I don’t want to give this one too much time, but suffice it to say, I don’t like this mascara at all, and I’m disappointed by how much I don’t like it.

As most people are aware, Estee Lauder is not a cruelty-free brand.

The formula is a wetter formula, but it is not excessive and does not require you to peel it off by rubbing it on the side of the tube to reduce the amount of product. It actually goes on nicely, despite the massive bristle size for a travel size mascara. The bristles are not my particular jam, but I do find that they are effective in increasing volume (though, not as much as I’d prefer).

  • Smudges? ❌ Hand to god, within a half hour of putting this on, the smudges were there. I think part of this is because the formula is just so wet, it takes FOR.EV.ER. to dry down, and even when it does, it has enough emollient ingredients that it will continue to smudge after the fact.
  • Flakes? ✔️ This mascara did not flake in my experience.
  • Eye Irritation? ✔️ Another fortunate thing I did not experience in trying this product.
  • Volumizing? ✔️ Yes, it does volumize, but not as much as I would like to see. The bristles are helpful at adding volume.
  • Separates? ✔️ Not really. It doesn’t exactly clump them, but it doesn’t coat every lash individually as well as I’d like.

Would I repurchase? That’s going to be a no from me.

Too Faced Better Than Sex (Waterproof Version)

  • Price: $12 for 0.17 oz (full size is $23 for 0.27 oz; travel size is $70.59 per oz and full size is $85.19 making the travel size a better deal)
  • Purchased: Sephora (can also be purchased at Ulta and Too Faced brand website)
  • Ingredients: Water / Aqua / Eau, Stearic Acid, Myrica Cerifera (Bayberry) Fruit Wax, Sucrose Polybehenate, Polyisobutene, Polyvinyl Acetate, Paraffin, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Isostearic Acid, Panthenol, Pantethine, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax / Cera Carnauba / Cire De Carnauba, Kaolin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cholesterol, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, PTFE, VP / Eicosene Copolymer, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Sodium Polyacrylate, Simethicone, Polyester-5, PVP, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hexylene Glycol, Nylon-6, Laureth-4, Nylon-66, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Chlorphenesin, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Phenoxyethanol.

As a sidebar, I tried the non-waterproof version before and it actually might be the mascara I’ve tried that I like the absolute least. In the spirit of being completely honest, I don’t understand how it has the cult appeal it does. The bristles are massive and coated with product to the point where even wiping it on the sides doesn’t get the job done.

So when I decided I was going to give the waterproof version a shot, I had a conversation with myself that was a lot of side eye and a lot of hemming and hawing. But! I am actually really glad I went and tried it, because it isn’t like the non-waterproof version in the ways that made me really loathe it.

The formula is wetter, but unlike the non-waterproof version, it is not soaking wet and caked on the bristles. You don’t need to rub off the excess, it’s actually in a fairly manageable amount from the get go, which is great. I’m also usually not one to be seduced by packaging, but I really like the touch with the water droplets and how it feels on the packaging. It’s a great touch and reminiscent of the MAC collection a few years back that did something similar.

Over time and using this product, I did notice it became drier and more susceptible to things that weren’t present upon my initial experience. If I were to purchase a larger size, it’d be definitely something I’d be wary of and probably prevent me from repurchasing. I didn’t notice it have an effect on what I would like to see from a mascara in terms of volume and separation, though, even as the formula dried out.

Too Faced is a cruelty-free brand, for those that are looking for products that meet that criteria.

One thing I will note about this product: removing it was PAINFUL. I had made the mistake (because I can get away with doing this with non-waterproof mascaras) of keeping my contacts in while trying to remove it the first time I wore this, and it burned. It burned throughout the night and continued to make my eyes water until the next morning. When I wore it later and had removed my contacts to remove the product, I didn’t experience the same sensation. Something to beware of for those of us who wear contacts.

  • Smudges? ❌ Initially it did not on my first several wears of this product, but after it started to dry out, I did experience smudging with the product. Due to the size of the brush, it did smudge product on my eyelids.
  • Flakes? ❌ Initially it did not, but on my last several wears, I did notice some minor flaking with this product–likely due to the product drying out.
  • Eye Irritation? ❌ Yes. Contact-wearers beware! I don’t know if this might happen for others, your mileage may vary on it.
  • Volumizing? ✔️ Yes, it did a solid job of volumizing and was in the ballpark of where I would like to be with volume. Even as the formula dried, this did not change and was consistent.
  • Separates? ✔️ It’s not the separation I would like to see, but it still did a sufficient job and I would not consider it an issue, even as the product dried out.

Would I repurchase? Maybe, but only if I needed something cruelty-free and waterproof for only a short amount of time. Otherwise, it doesn’t hold up to daily use due to it drying out.

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise

  • Price: $9.99 for 0.25 oz (making it approximately $39.96 per oz; though, this price is from Ulta and the price seems to vary depending on where it is purchased from.)
  • Purchased: Ulta (can also be found at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Amazon, and generally anywhere else you may purchase drugstore-priced products)
  • Ingredients: Isododecane, Cera Alba / Beeswax / Cire Dabeille, Copernicia Cerifera Cera / Carnauba Wax / Cire De Carnauba, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dilinoleic Acid / Butanediol Copolymer, Aqua / Water / Eau, Allyl Stearate / VA Copolymer, Oryza Sativa Cera / Rice Bran Wax, Paraffin, Alcohol Denat., Polyvinyl Laurate, VP / Eicosene Copolymer, Propylene Carbonate, Talc, Synthetic Beeswax, Ethylenediamine / Stearyl Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, PEG-30 Glyceryl Stearate, Candelilla Cera / Candelilla Wax / Cire De Candelilla, Panthenol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, BHT. May Contain: CI 77499 / Iron Oxides, CI 77891 / Titanium Dioxide.

Hark! A drugstore option? Why yes. Normally, I avoid drugstore mascaras because the last time I used one, after several attempts to find one between several options, I wound up with flakes and irritated eyes for days after the fact.

This one, though, surprised me. I knew it was worth a peek when Sabrina of The Beauty Lookbook raved about it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Mascaras are a very “your mileage may vary” product for everyone, so I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did.

After looking at the ingredient list, I’m surprised I like it as much as I do. I notice that it contains denatured alcohol, which is one of my known skin irritants (regardless of location on the ingredient list–which corresponds to the amount it is present in the product–I would think would irritate my eyes!), but it doesn’t seem to bother them, even upon removal. (Though, it is worth noting when I do remove waterproof mascara, I tend to use an oil-based cleanser; coconut oil usually, though only around the eyes and nowhere else on my face.)

The formula itself is nice; it’s wetter, but not sopping wet. Given the presence of denatured alcohol, I do find that it dries quickly and I don’t have to worry about transfer to my under-eye area. The bristles on the lash are typically not what I prefer, but I do find that it doesn’t clump it right away. However, unlike the other mascaras on this list, despite using “Blackest Black,” I don’t find it is particularly opaque and have to build it up in several layers. L’Oreal is also not a cruelty-free brand.

There are some things about it I don’t love–for both the pigmentation and the volume I want, I really have to build this up and the more I build it up, I come close to more clumping. We’re not talking 80’s rock show level of clumping, but it’s enough where I can notice on myself and I don’t love it. With that, it takes a little away from the product.

  • Smudges? ✔️ Not even a little. It’s the only product on this review that didn’t smudge at all, even after several uses and expecting the product to dry out. I suspect this is due to the presence of the denatured alcohol, which would help it “dry” faster on the lashes.
  • Flakes? ✔️ None! I don’t notice any little flakes in my under-eye after the end of a 12 hour day.
  • Eye Irritation? ✔️ Nope! Even in removal, I didn’t need to remove my contacts and nor did I have any burning while wearing it.
  • Volumizing? ✔️ Yes, however, it does need some building. Once you get to a second or third layer, though, it’s definitely in the ballpark of where I like to be.
  • Separates? ❌ Initially, yes, however, with each subsequent layer, it does tend to clump lashes together.

Would I repurchase? Yes, especially for the price. I think this is a real knock out product and especially for a waterproof mascara, I think it’s pretty impressive.


Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

  • Price: $14.00 for 0.21 oz (making it approximately $66.67 per oz for travel size; full size retails at $26.00 for 0.32 oz making it $81.25, with the travel size being the better deal.)
  • Purchased: Sephora (can also be obtained from Marc Jacobs Beauty website)
  • Ingredients: Water, Paraffin, Glyceryl Stearate, Synthetic Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Acacia Senegal Gum, Butylene Glycol, Palmitic Acid, Polybutene, Oryza Sativa Cera (Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax), VP/Eicosense Copolymer, Ozokerite, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Stearyl Stearate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Nitrate, Tropolone, Disodium Phosphate, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Phosphate, Iron Oxides (CI 77499).

This one hurt me the most. I had a lot of high expectations for it, seeing as how Beka over at MakeupNerdery loves it, but I don’t.

From the first time I tried applying this, the product has way too much product caked on. Even after several uses, you can see from the picture above, that the type of bristles it has lends itself (in addition to probably the wettest formula I’ve tried) to just having the product caked on. Despite brushing the side of the tube with excess product, it still gives you way more than you’ll actually need to apply.

Upon application, it’s a hot mess. If you’re someone who constantly runs short on time; don’t bother using this product on those days. You’re going to spend time cleaning your under-eye AND lid space because of how much product is on the wand (even if you use a tissue to wipe excess off.)

Even trying to clean it off, it smudges almost immediately and constantly throughout the day, largely in part to its very wet formula that doesn’t seem to dry down. Even if you try not to blink for a minute, it will still transfer.

It has sleek packaging that’s a nice minimalist black, but the bristles make the product and applying it a mess. Additionally, it is a cruelty-free product, if nothing else.

  • Smudges? ❌ Very smudgy due to its wetter formula.
  • Flakes? ✔️ None, but as it is so wet, I’d actually be shocked if it did flake in any way because that would mean it would have to dry down some.
  • Eye Irritation? ✔️ Nope, it was gentle to wear and remove.
  • Volumizing? ✔️ Yes, it actually does a great job of adding volume, but at the cost of time in clean-up.
  • Separates? ❌ Nope. Because of the shape of the bristles, it really does a piss poor job of separating them and instead does a great job of giving that Yzma-style lash clumping.

Would I repurchase? Unless there’s a reformulation, it’s going to be a hard pass from me.

Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara

  • Price: A deluxe sample size which was redeemed. However, it is available for purchase in two sizes: travel size ($12/0.13 oz making it approximately $92.31 per oz) or full size ($25/0.33 oz making it approximately $75.76 per oz)
  • Purchased: Sephora (can also be obtained from Ulta, Macy’s, a ton of other places where Lancôme is sold, and Lancôme brand website)
  • Ingredients: Water, Paraffin, Glyceryl Stearate, Synthetic Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Acacia Senegal Gum, Butylene Glycol, Palmitic Acid, Polybutene, Oryza Sativa Cera (Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax), VP/Eicosense Copolymer, Ozokerite, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Stearyl Stearate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Nitrate, Tropolone, Disodium Phosphate, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Phosphate, Iron Oxides (CI 77499).

Mediocrity, thy name is Monsieur Big. This product is the definition of mediocre; there’s nothing about this product that’s bad, per se, but there’s nothing about it that’s great, either, especially at the price point.

The bristles are massive for the product (although I suspected this is due to getting a deluxe sample, it looks like it really isn’t that different on the actual full size product.) It’s coated in product and while the formula is opaque and “wetter,” it dries down in an adequate amount of time. The bristles don’t work for my smaller, deep-set almond eyes and inevitably, product winds up on my eyelid.

Lancome is also not a cruelty-free brand, for those concerned.

Despite the name, I don’t feel like it adds that much volume and it definitely does not separate. What it does somewhat well, though, is add length. That’s a great trait, but that’s not what I purchase mascara to do for me and it’s not the highlight of the marketing for the product, according to the Sephora website (“A high-volume mascara that delivers bold lash volume for up to 24 hours.”) If you’re into lengthening mascaras, give it a shot, but if you’re into either volume or separation, just pass on this.

  • Smudges? ❌ Does transfer to under eye area after a few hours of wear.
  • Flakes? ✔️ None.
  • Eye Irritation? ✔️ Nope, it was gentle to wear and remove.
  • Volumizing? ❌ No, required several layers to build up.
  • Separates? ❌ No. Additional layers clumped lashes and there was no visible separation upon initial application.

Would I repurchase? Nope, not even for the travel size. There’s way better options out there that would better for me at multiple price points.

 

As stated earlier, mascara is really one of those “your mileage may vary”–it varies because of variation in eye shape, eye sensitivities, lash size, lash type, and a ton of other reasons. What may work (and may not have worked) for me may not be your experience, but if you’re ever looking at any of these, I hope it provided some guidance in whether or not you will or will not purchase.