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

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