Chelsea Crew, Fluevogs, Bettie Page Shoes, and B.A.I.T. Footwear: A Pinup Shoe Review

“A shoe is not only a design, but it’s part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes.” – Christian Louboutin

There are a lot of things I’m picky about; a good fried egg, the perfect red lipstick, the fabric, cut, and design of a dress (it is a huge pet peeve of mine when patterns don’t match up), but shoes are damn near the top of my list of the things I demand quality and excellent presentation on. As Cinderella taught many of us; a good shoe can change your life.

There are a few pinup-related brands out there and few reviews on them, so I thought I would take the time to share my thoughts on a few brands of shoes that I regularly wear and advise what is worth the coin and what isn’t.

Chelsea Crew

Chelsea Crew is one of my ride-or-die brands and I love them. They’re work horses, I’ve had a pair last me for a good four years with regular wear and tear, and I always get a ton of compliments whenever I wear something from them. While they can be dressier, they’re never uncomfortable. I’ve worn a few pair while trekking around New York City for miles and never once got a blister, and that alone gets brownie points in my book.

Their heels are often sensible and while it’s a reproduction brand, they make sizing that is sensible and comfortable. While I’m all for vintage styles, vintage sizing is something I can’t necessarily get behind (mostly because while I have size 7 feet, they are slightly wider than average. This brand makes it slightly wider, which is awesome because I don’t have to sit there from the get go and wonder if my feet will fit.

Chelsea Crew is a company that was created in the USA, but is fairly secretive about their production practices. I have not been able to determine where their products are created and an email sent to their customer service has not yielded a response. If this sort of thing is of top concern to you, it may be something to consider before making a purchase. Speaking of this; Chelsea Crew does not sell directly from their website, but can be obtained from wholesalers such as Shoegasm, Royal Vintage Shoes, and a few other sellers.

I think very highly of them and think they balance out cost (generally around ~$50-60) with quality, and would definitely purchase from them again if I found something for my collection.

 

John Fluevog Shoes

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I was introduced to Fluevogs by a friend who raved about only needing to change the soles on a pair she had over 4+ years and had my interest piqued from that point forward. If you weren’t aware, Fluevogs are a little quirky, but have some shoes that are vintage-inspired and they are freaking expensive for regular purchase (generally, they range from ~$150-450 depending on type of shoe, etc. Sale shoes typically run the gamut from ~$65-350.)

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This being said, my friend was not lying. These shoes are some of the most comfortable ones I’ve tried and whenever I wear them, I’m guaranteed at least a compliment or two. Of the shoes above, the ones I wear most are the pinup shoes (center of the picture). They’re wedged shoes, but I can wear them for hours and have walked miles in them without issue.

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One thing I would recommend (and how I got my pairs) is looking for second-hand Fluevogs. They still have absurdly high resale values, but they aren’t going to hurt your wallet as a new pair might. Plus, buying second-hand items is just a good environmental practice, so it’s a win-win. As you can see from the picture above, the second-hand ones I bought could really use a new paint job, which is something I will be investing in to keep them looking good and wearable with future outfits.

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For those that look for vegan shoes, you will be currently disappointed by them. Per their website,

While we have had success producing Vegan Vogs in the past, recent collections have been without vegan options as we continue to research different production methods and materials. We are currently in search of a leather substitute that is both sustainable and affordable, without compromising the quality that we’ve come to be known for. We have faith that Vegan Vogs will return and when they do, we intend to be shouting it from the rooftops (as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)!

Fluevogs are also open about their business practices, advising the following regarding their production facilities: “Large portions of our shoes are made in Portuguese factories; some we have been working with since God was a boy. We also use factories in Mexico, Peru, China, and Vietnam. All of our factories are ISO 9002 certified, which is primarily an international quality certification, that relates to consistency and standards of production and quality. In addition to that, from an ethical standard, our factories fully comply with the Labour Law of the PRC act of 2007 (also known as the Worker’s Rights Act of 2008). This brings all of our factories in line with “Western” labour standards, and they are all checked regularly.”

Fluevogs can also be really eccentric in design, which is fine if that is what you are into, but for true vintage or vintage-inspired design, they aren’t my go-to brand. Still, they are ones I would highly recommend. Though, I would recommend them second-hand if possible. I’d repurchase, but again: not where I’d start, especially when I’ve had good luck with cheaper brands.

 

Bettie Page Shoes

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Bettie Page Shoes are a brand named after the infamous pinup, Bettie Page. They are a vintage reproduction brand that is lower-to-mid (depending on your budget) priced and can be found pretty easily on the internet, specifically on Amazon (which is where I found my two).

Look, I made it clear that when I started blogging that I would be honest. And in all honesty: I’m really, really disappointed I had spent an Amazon giftcard or two on these. The exterior part of the shoes are nice enough and resistant to scuffing, but the insides are a mess. The soles detached from the shoes and this occurred within the first week of wear. Because of this, there’s no way I would recommend these for daily use.

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On the left pair, you can see where the sole is detaching from the shoe and remains curled up.

I don’t wear the blue pair that often (and did wear it during the 50’s Cinderella-inspired photoshoot), but it’s OK to wear for a decent amount of time and can walk in them comfortably. Given this experience, I wouldn’t recommend them (and definitely will not be repurchasing) unless you need something delivered within 2 business days and it’s not something you’ll be wearing for daily use, unless you’re willing to replace the soles.

 

B.A.I.T. Footwear

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B.A.I.T. Footwear is one of those ubiquitous pinup brands that if you are on social media, you have probably seen worn by the big name pinups. (Cue the “If you’re a pinup on social media, are you really a pinup on social media if you haven’t posted a picture of yourself in B.A.I.T. Footwear on Instagram?” gag.) A friend of mine, 8-Bit Pinup, is also a pretty big fan of their shoes.

B.A.I.T. is an acronym for “But Another Innocent Tale” and they are a very vocal company for non-human animal rights and often have donations for local humane shelters.

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I’m going to eat some crow on this one, and I’ll explain why: after having been burnt on Bettie Page Shoes, I was hesitant to try B.A.I.T. shoes. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to go through another pair falling apart after having spent $50+ on them, and online, some of the materials looked similar. But I bought the yellow pair seen above, and blissfully: I was wrong and bought the other two seen here (and a few others on the way from Black Friday sales.)

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The matte shades are less scuff-resistant, but they are comfortable to wear over several hours. I’ve worn them with stockings and without and didn’t have any issues with chafing or blisters. This being said, I also break in my shoes by mushing them a bit and wearing them with thick socks/stockings around the house until they “feel” right. As Jessi points out rightly, one of the things about vegan leather is that it requires a little extra breaking in.

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They have a pretty significant variety of shoe types available (heels, boots, wedges, etc.) and in a huge variety of colors which appeals to me immensely. It is strictly a vintage reproduction brand based on actual shoes from the 1920’s-1960’s, and it is reflected in a lot of their products. B.A.I.T. is also a vegan brand, which is great for those that are looking for a vegan option among this list.

B.A.I.T. is one of my favorites (and I’m so, so sorry for being hesitant!) and I’m glad I gave them a shot and have repurchased.

 

Of the brands listed in this post, the ones I would strongly recommend without hesitation (assuming they fit your ethics and budget) are Chelsea Crew and B.A.I.T. Footwear. I would recommend Fluevogs as well, but only if it fits your budget (seriously, there are just as good options out there at better price points) or you can find good second-hand ones.

 

Let me know if I am missing out on any of your favorite brands or if there’s any you would like to try!

 

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

My Current Skincare Routine for Dry, Reactive Skin – Fall/Winter 2017

My ideal life would be lived in a small tank with a decent amount of humidity and a warm rock to lay on, much like a lizard. Unfortunately, I do not get to live that best life, but much like a lizard: my skin can get scaly. It also gets compounded with the dry air as we move into cooler temperatures and heat getting pumped out the vents, it’s time to discuss how to make my skin less like a vintage alligator handbag.

There’s a few ways I try and make it less so, one of them is by having a tried and true skincare routine. There’s a lot that are out there; some have a ton of products built into them (e.g. Korean skincare routines) vs. less detailed ones. After having done a lot of experimentation and trial and error with many products, this is the one that works best for me. As with any beauty product, your mileage may vary–what works for me, may not work for you.

As a reminder (and as you can read from the title), I have dry, reactive skin. I’m on medication which has made my skin a little more sensitive than it normally would, but this is an expected side effect.

Morning Routine

Water on face for cleaning

I generally don’t do a deep cleanse in the morning. Some people might find this gross, but when I do this, even if it is with an oil cleanser or something moisturizing, it leaves my skin drier. I prefer just to do a little water to get the job done and also help my skin with the next step.

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belif Creamy Moisturizer Deep Moist

  • Price: $38/4.22 fl. oz. (making it approximately $9.00/fl. oz.)
  • Ingredients: Water, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Glycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Dipropylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Betaine, Glyceryl Stearate, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract, Corchorus Olitorius Leaf Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, ***Fragrance, Citronellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.
  • Non-human Animal Tested?: No, belif does not test on non-human animals and this product is free from animal origin ingredients (per label on bottle)

The unfortunate name aside, it’s a solid day-time moisturizer. The bottle is nice, though difficult to determine when you are running low as you would have to open it to determine how much product is left. The bottle is fairly hefty and the pump is a very nice touch. I find I have to use two pumps to get the adequate amount of moisturizer I like to use for my drier skin. I’ve been using this for over two months now and have not had any issues with it causing my skin to break out.

While it is a nice formula and adds moisture back into my skin, it isn’t exactly as nourishing as its heavy-hitting counterpart, the True Cream Moisture Bomb. I don’t think it is as strong at extending the moisturizing over an extended period of time. This being said, it is also a lighter formula, so I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect that it would. Daytime moisturizers aren’t as heavy to play nice with makeup, but the drawback is that they don’t impart as much hydration back into the skin over an extended period of time.

This being said, the cost is actually not terrible for a mid-to-high end brand for the amount of product you get. It also plays very nicely under makeup, wearing well under both my beloved Make Up For Ever Water Blend and the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation.

I know I will definitely use this one up and from that point, determine if I will be repurchasing. As of right now, I haven’t decided if I will, but I know I like it enough to at least use it up.

 

Those are my only two skincare steps for the morning. You may notice the lack of sunscreen, which I know is important for combating skin cancer. The truth of the matter is: I don’t really use it. When I go into work, it’s dark and I’m generally at my desk all day and not near a window. I’m generally outside for less than 15 minutes in a given day, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

 

Nightly Routine

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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

  • Price: $29.50/3.8 oz (making it ~$7.76/oz)
  • Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water / Aqua / Eau, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol.
  • Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.

I’ve been using this loyally for well over a year now at this point. One balm will last me roughly 6 months with about daily use. I use this by getting my beloved Shiseido cotton pads a few swipes in the pot, getting it wet, and then removing facial makeup. I will also use this for waterproof eye makeup as well (though I don’t think it’s as effective as straight up oil (coconut or extra virgin olive oil; coconut is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause blemishes in some people.))

This is one of those few, rare products that I think would genuinely work for any skin type and wouldn’t have an issue recommending it for anyone. While I generally side eye the claim that Clinique is one of the best skincare lines out there, they do have some stellar products and this is one of their all-stars. It’s strong enough to remove stubborn face products, but gentle enough to not strip the skin of moisture.

I’ll one day sing longer praises for it, but in my routine, it’s got holy grail status and I don’t intend to remove it any time soon. It’s too good, effective, and relatively wallet-friendly for me to pass up on it.

 

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

  • Price: $6.79/ 1 oz.
  • Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Potassium Citrate, Arginine, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Ethyl 2,2-Dimethylhydrocinnamal, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
  • Non-human Animal Tested?: No

As you may be already aware of my feelings on The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid, this is the stronger version of the 5%. The things I don’t like about the 5% (a dropper for applying product, getting exposed to air, scent, etc.) still remain, but at the price it is at and the effectiveness of the product, it’s just too good to pass up for anything else.

I decided to recently make the jump to the 10% for the reason that I know we are not going to be as fortunate as last year with a more mild winter. The ingredients are largely the same, but there’s some difference in the location (and therefore, amount within the product). For example, compared to the 5%, the 10% has arginine (an antioxidant) in a much higher content. I’ve only used this a few times, but it definitely has upped the brightness in my skin.

I’ll have an extended review on this when I’ve finished it up, but for now, it serves as a souped up version of the 5% in my routine and serves to continue the step of being an exfoliant and removing the dead skin cells. I also only use this every other night to avoid over-exfoliating and making my skin redder than it needs to be.

 

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Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair

  • Price: $16/0.24 oz (the travel size is approximately $66.66 per oz, but it also comes in the size of $65/1 oz and $95/1.7 oz, making the 1.7 oz the best price per oz at ~$55.88)
  • Ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-75, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Cola Acuminata (Kola) Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Pantethine, Caffeine, Lecithin, Tripeptide-32, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Rna, Bisabolol, Glycereth-26, Squalane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Caprylyl Glycol, Lactobacillus Ferment, Oleth-3, Oleth-5, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure, Choleth-24, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ceteth-24, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hexylene Glycol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Trisodium EDTA, BHT, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Red 4 (CI 14700), Yellow 5 (CI 19140).
  • Non-human Animal Tested?: Yes, when required by law.

On the nights where I don’t use The Ordinary Lactic Acid, this gets substituted in its place instead. I will also use it on the same nights if I tend to have a blemish, because I find this really helps to put the gas on clearing it up without leaving a scar.

Given that I’m right on the cusp of turning 30, I decided it was maybe about time to work in some anti-aging products that might be helpful for other things. After reading multiple reviews, that’s where this product came along. I use it for anti-aging prevention, but it also works to help reduce blemishes, reduce dullness, and I find it also adds a little bit of brightness back into my skin. Although it says it helps for dryness and dehydration, I don’t really experience a whole lot of moisture with this product after using it. That may be more apt for someone with oilier or combination skin types than someone with chronically dry or dehydrated skin.

Again, given that it is a pricier product, I generally don’t use this every night. It typically gets used every other night or whenever I feel needed. It’s just a little something that helps up my skin game.

 

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belif The True Cream – Moisturizing Bomb

  • Price: $38/1.68 fl. oz. (~$22.62 per fl. oz.)
  • Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Triethylhexanoin, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteayl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Poncirus Trifoliata Fruit Extract, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Achillea Millefolium Flower Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Extract, Menyanthes Trifoliata Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Chelidonium Majus Extract, Urea, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Tromethamine, ***Frgrance, Citronnellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.
  • Non-human Animal Tested?: No

If there is any one thing in my routine that I would recommend hands down with no reservations to anyone with dry skin, this is it. I’ve been using this night-time moisturizer for over a year and it (along with moving to a more humid climate) has made the biggest difference on my dry skin.

I wouldn’t recommend it to people with oily or combo skin (though, the Aqua Bomb is what I would substitute in its place), but for dry skin, you can’t find a more effective moisturizer on the market short of pure oils. (I know, because I’ve tried almost everything.)

It has a very slight fragrance, but overall, when I wake up in the morning, I can feel that my skin is still soft from applying it the night before but without looking greasy or oily-feeling. It is thicker than Aqua Bomb and heavier in comparison, but it isn’t heavy enough to be distracting or annoying. I find that the thickness imparts the nourishment my skin is craving.

As a side note, this is also surprisingly cosmetically elegant; I’ve tried it under a few different foundations (e.g. MUFE Water Blend, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Cover FX Natural Finish, etc.) and all have worked nicely with this, but it will depend on the formula you use and how finicky it is in general.

This is my very last step in my skincare routine every night, but it’s a staple and it’s earned its place as a holy grail moisturizer. If you’re looking for a good night-time moisturizer to wake up to softer skin–this is what you’ve been looking for.

 

For now, that is my skincare routine as we go from fall into winter. What do you guys use? Anything this lizard woman should be aware of? Let me know if I’ve been missing out on anything.

Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

Pincurl MVPs: Curlettes

Hair is not my strong suit. Part of it is that my hair is feral and does whatever it wants. The other part is that, while I have a lot of it, my hair is also very thin, fine, and prone to frizziness and tangling. Pincurls, however, are one of the few vintage hairstyles I can moderately work with.

I have done pincurls several ways, but the easiest, bar none, is by using Curlettes. It also is the most comfortable for me when I’m trying to sleep, compared to having a bobbi pin driving into my ear or scalp because it’s know rather than metal or plastic.




I ordered two sets of medium back in January 2017 (and after Junebugs and Georgia Peaches did a review and tutorial, it was hard to resist!) They did not come until May 2017–they are hand-made and made-to-order by Curlettes via Etsy (which is overseas for me, as I live in the USA and she is based out of the UK). Life happened along the way, which was serious and understandable, so it’s something that was outside of her control and I don’t fault her for. The communication along the way was acceptable and because of it, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase from again.




I have used them multiple times, they’re still in excellent condition, and make it very easy for me to get the pincurls I’m after. I would have no problem recommending them if you are able to catch her when the shop is open and placing an order.



At the time of writing this, Curlettes is currently open, but I don’t know how long that may be the case. It’s a one-woman operation, so she may close when she has enough business. I’d highly recommend placing an order while you can–it makes the pincurl process much easier and easier to sleep on than bobby pins or plastic curling tools.

The next time I place an order, I think I will be going for the larger ones because I think it’ll be very effective at giving the Veronica Lake waves. I normally (and in the pictures above) use the medium-sized rollers, which is perfect for my medium-length hair.

(Note: Just because there’s a lot of gushing in this post, just want to point out–I am not being sponsored or paid to write this; I’m only a big fan of the product and had a great experience that’s worth sharing with others. If I was, per my policy, I would be disclosing it.)

 

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

Silken Twine Capri Pants in Chambray Blue

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When I was coming up with the idea for the photoshoot seen in Putting the Blue in Bluegrass, the hardest thing was finding a reasonable pair of blue capris in the perfect color family. Fortunately, Etsy pulled through for me and brought me to SilkenTwineAustralia, who made it super easy to find exactly what I was looking for and at a very comfortable price!

The pants themselves at the time of purchasing were $47.02 (USD) and international shipping was $11.76 (USD), making it a comfortable $58.78 (USD) in total. (At the time of purchase, the USD was stronger than the AUD making my dollar stretch further.) This is cheaper than many other brands both domestic and internationally for comparable products. Upon purchasing it, the shipping time was very reasonable, especially for something made to order. I had purchased on June 15th and received a shipment notification on June 19, receiving the package from Australia on June 30th.

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The pants themselves are made of stretch bengaline, and having worn them several times now, can attest to their comfort and willingness to stretch (I have done a little yoga in them and they passed eating at a buffet test!) The website states that it is built to be taken in or out, which is very handy.

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The quality is outstanding; I find the stitch work to be particularly impressive near the hem. As someone who does live in the petite range of things (being 5’0″ and all), the size 6 was perfect and I did not feel like it cut off circulation or was in any way uncomfortable or too long. It was perfectly made for my size, though, I will confess to not usually struggling with sizing issues except for length.

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My only criticism with the capris is that they are slightly sheerer, meaning, depending on what kind of undergarments you are wearing, they may come through the fabric. I could not wear my typical boyshorts with these, but a thong pairs nicely and is undetectable. I do not currently own any vintage/vintage-inspired undergarments, so I do not have the ability to test with that, though, I’m not sure it would make a difference. If the fabric was more opaque, I’d consider this perfect and would purchase in every color. This being said, I would still not hesitate to wear these to work, but I would be prepared to wear specific undergarments with them.

SilkenTwine does make them in a variety of sizes on up to size 16 Australian (which is comparable to a L in US sizes and is approximately size 12 US) and provides a sizing chart on her page. It would be nicer to see them in a larger size variety for more plus sized folk, but if you are within this range, it’s definitely something to look into.

She also has the capris in a variety of colors and other items, and I plan on purchasing the above ankle length black capris shortly.

In short, I had a great experience with buying from and wearing the capris, and have no issues recommending purchasing from them. They’re comfortable, great vintage reproduction staple pieces, and affordable. All of which are more than enough to keep me as a repeat customer.

All photography in this post is by Janna Michelle Photography

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Yours ’til Niagara Falls,

Jupiter Gimlet

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.

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes v. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%

It is a good time to be a chemical exfoliant fan, particularly if you enjoy lactic acid. In the last few years, lactic acid has been becoming more and more prevalent among exfoliants, which is great if you happen to have more reactive, sensitive skin. Lactic acid also tends to be excellent for drier skins as it helps retain moisture.

Both of these products that are getting focused on today are fairly well-esteemed in the chemical exfoliant niche. However, I do not believe you need both. I tested out both of these products over several months and as promised in my prior Instagram post, I thought I would give an update on my review and offer a comparison between these two products in the beauty zeitgeist of the moment.

After I completed my first bottle of The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid + HA 2%, I went and got a sample or two of the Sunday Riley Good Genes from Sephora to refresh my memory and to see if my results would be replicated. Normally, I use an AHA/lactic acid every other day rather than every day. In this period and spacing out the products, I went 3 days without using a chemical or physical exfoliant (this is the time frame I’ve managed to figure out through multiple means of being really damn lazy and not using skincare that the effect from a chemical exfoliant stops working on me and I start flaking.) This was to see if the results would be different between the two so I could narrow down what the differences were between products.

With the exception of the samples, I paid for both products and used both; Sunday Riley Good Genes (SRGG) lasted me from early January to mid-April. This was during winter, although the winter this year was fairly mild, with few days of dry coldness. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (TOLA) lasted me from mid-April to late June, in a very humid period, so I would not expect my dryness to be worse in this period.

Now, with that out of the way, I can get to the nitty-gritty on these reviews.

 

 

Sunday Riley Good Genes (SRGG)

  • Price: $105 per 1 oz (Note: I bought this on a post-Christmas sale for 30% off, so it was approximately $78.75; Also comes in a 1.7 oz bottle for $158 making it slightly cheaper per oz at $92.94/oz in that size.)
  • Purchased: Anthropologie (can also be found at Sephora and DermStore.com)
  • Ingredients: Opuntia Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear) Extract, Agave Tequilana Leaf (Blue Agave) Extract, Cypripedium Pubescens (Lady’s Slipper Orchid) Extract, Opuntia Vulgaris (Cactus) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract & Saccharomyses Cerevisiae (Yeast) Extract, Lactic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Ppg-12/Smdi Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol And Ceteareth20, Glyceryl Stearate And Peg-100 Stearate, Arnica Montana (Flower) Extract, Peg-75 Meadowfoam Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil, Triethanolamine, Xantham Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Steareth-20, Dmdm Hydantoin

SRGG has a cult following, and I can understand the appeal behind it. It really is an excellent but gentle chemical exfoliant. It comes with a pump (which I love, personally) and is in the form of a cream rather than a liquid. Although I don’t buy based on packaging alone, it is a nice-sized, stand up bottle made of glass. It looks fairly elegant and while I’m not the biggest gold lover, it gives it a nice appeal.

The product has a noticeable and strong scent. The scent itself does not fade away quickly on me and could take up to an hour before dissipating. I found it unpleasant at first, but over time, I came to appreciate it. It’s got a very light lemony smell, but also smells of chemicals which–well, yeah, it’s a chemical exfoliant. No shit, Sherlock.

For those that prefer to only purchase products that do not involve animal testing, the brand does not test on animals.

The product promises to do the following according to the advertisement on the Sephora website:

Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is formulated with high potency, purified grade lactic acid that immediately exfoliates dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells, revealing smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin. Fine lines appear visually plumped while the skin looks more radiant. With continued use, the appearance of stubborn hyperpigmentation and the visible signs of aging are reduced for a healthier-looking complexion. Perfect for all skin types and all ages, this treatment is enhanced with licorice for brightening, Good Genes clarifies, smooths, and retexturizes for instant radiance.

Here’s what I found to be in my experience, both initially and after giving myself a refresher after trying it again:

  • Exfoliant: ✔️ This did an excellent job of keeping flaky skin at bay and making my skin feel soft without being too harsh.
  • Fine Lines: ❓ It’s hard to say on this one. Since my initial review, I was able to find a few on my face, but I don’t know that this product necessarily prevented them or if they occurred after using. I’m doesn’t really seem like this did a lot on that front, so I’m going to have to consider this one inconclusive.
  • Radiance: ✔️ Initially, this one was inconclusive for me but after going a second round, I do think this product adds radiance and a brightening effect.
  • Hyperpigmentation: ❔ As I don’t have hyperpigmentation, I can’t speak to this one and so it will remain inconclusive on my end.
  • Redness Reduction: ✔️ So, they don’t say anything about this in the description, but I do have to share this because it did work very effectively for me at reducing redness. It didn’t clear it up completely, but it definitely reduced it significantly.
  • Anti-Aging: ❔ This is going to be another inconclusive for me. As I look very young as is, you could argue that it kept me looking young, but that’s–probably not the intended purpose to keep someone looking 14.

 

 

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (TOLA)

  • Price: $6.50 per 1 oz.
  • Purchased: Beautylish (also available through Skinstore.com, ASOS, and the brand’s website)
  • Ingredients: Aqua (water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolmer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Arginine, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium Ethylene-Diamine Disuccinate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethyl 2.2-Dimethylhydrocinnamal, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Ethylhexylclycerin, 1.2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

TOLA is one of those products that’s flying off the shelf and it’s not hard to see why; The Ordinary is a very affordable but effective product line. It doesn’t shy away from using effective chemicals (a plus in my book because I don’t buy into the hype around organic being best.)

Like Sunday Riley, this brand also does not perform any animal testing. It’s also a vegan product. (These two things are not necessarily the same; Ethical Elephant explains it very well if this is a concern for you.)

The product itself is in a small, clear glass container. It’s minimalist, but does not seem to have anything to deflect UV influence on the product, which is interesting to me because I would think it would degrade the product faster. Another quirk about this product is that it has a dropper as opposed to a pump. Given that the product is liquid rather than SRGG’s cream, this makes somewhat more sense.

The Ordinary has gone and explained why they use a dropper as opposed to a pump, and it largely comes down to a functional purpose despite being less cost efficient. While I appreciate the conscious effort on their end to not waste product/money, I still do prefer a nice pump at the end of the day. Not to mention, for someone like me, I’m prone to losing at least 15% by being a clumsy asshole anyways (as evidenced by how much faster I used this product up comparatively.)

Much like SRGG, this one has a scent too. The first few times I used it, I longed for the lemon chemical stench of SRGG, but I’ve come to tolerate it. It does fade quickly despite its strength (within 10-15 minutes.) It’s hard to describe what this smells like; it’s got a fruity underbody to it but it just reeks of chemicals.

Now, here is what the Beautylish website describes it as:

This treatment gently resurfaces the skin to promote a bright, even tone and a smooth, soft texture.

If nothing else, I appreciate the brevity. Here’s how I find my first go round and second go with this product:

  • Exfoliant: ✔️ It keeps flakes away and leaves skin smooth after application.
  • Brightness: ✔️ It does, to a degree. I definitely find my skin looking bright right away, but by the middle of the next day, it has faded some.
  • Redness Reduction: ✔️ Again, it does reduce redness. I find it’s actually very red upon application but when I wake up, the redness has gone away. This is likely due to my skin being more sensitive.
  • As this product does not indicate anything about fine lines or anti-aging, I am not judging it for that. Not that I really could anyways, since those are difficult things for me to pin down on my skin.

 

 

Conclusion

No one needs both of these products. Although I find the SRGG is more effective at keeping redness away longer and slightly more effective at reducing redness, it isn’t enough to warrant the $98.50 price differential.

Here’s what I would recommend: if you are needing to look good for a special day, really need that anti-aging or fine line reduction, or have the budget to not break the bank by buying it regularly, it may be worth splurging to get SRGG.

However, for most people, it’s really unnecessary. TOLA does close enough to the same thing at a significantly lower cost. Considering skincare is something that should be as regular a habit as brushing your teeth, for me, it’s a no brainer: The Ordinary wins this one for me.