Bleu Majorelle, Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, and Barry M Damson

Posted on April 01, 2015 under Reviews

In January, my friend and I went on a quick jaunt to Marrakech, a bustling, vibrant city unlike any place I’ve ever been. When my mom saw my pictures from the trip, she described the city as “a riot of colour and pattern”, which is perfectly accurate.

My favourite place we visited in Marrakech was the iconic Jardin Majorelle, a secluded oasis in the heart of chaotic Marrakech. It was designed by Jacques Majorelle, who wanted to create the garden and onsite Berber Museum to display the rich culture and history of Morocco.

Throughout the gardens, there is an abundance of a vivid, electric blue, known as bleu Majorelle:

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In the mid-20th century, the garden fell into disrepair. It was then purchased by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Saint-Laurent became so taken by bleu Majorelle that it became one of the most iconic YSL nail polish colours.

Although luxury beauty lines were created to be more accessible and affordable to the average human than, say, a YSL dress, upwards of $30 for a single bottle of nail polish is still rather steep.

Luckily for those of us who, like Saint-Laurent, have fallen in love with the unrivaled dynamism of bleu Majorelle, there are two drugstore options for this amazing colour. Good old Sally Hansen and Barry M always have our backs!

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My first flirtation with this glorious colour was this summer, when I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue. Like Yves Saint-Laurent before me, I had never seen quite a colour before. (Yes, I did just compare myself to Yves Saint-Laurent. I know.) In the months that ensued, I probably wore Pacific Blue at least a third of the time – which is definitely not an even distribution when you consider how many nail polish colours I have!

However, tragedy of tragedies, Pacific Blue got reformulated – and this resulted in a drastic change in colour. It is now darker, sheerer, and slightly shimmery. It’s simply not the same dreamy, striking blue I fell in love with. I love a good cobalt as much as the next person, but what if I want a bleu Majorelle dupe?

Enter Barry M, a UK drugstore brand known mainly for their amazing, long-wearing, beautifully pigmented nail polishes. When I first arrived in Glasgow and went to Superdrug, I immediately noticed that Barry M had what appeared to be a dupe for Pacific Blue. However, it wasn’t until about a week ago that I broke down and finally bought the Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Damson. (Incidentally, the colour does not resemble that of damsons at all.) Normally I would never knowingly buy a nail polish shade that’s a dupe for one in my collection, but my bottle of Pacific Blue isn’t getting any more full, and at this point it’s irreplaceable.

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Barry M Damson on the left, Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the right.

Are these exact dupes? To my extremely discerning eye, no. Damson is bluer and a tad deeper, whereas Pacific Blue has the slightest hint of purple and a lighter, creamy quality that makes it so magical. Damson is a beautiful colour, but when I look at them side by side, on my nails rather than in a photograph (where they look almost exactly the same), Pacific Blue still has some sort of special quality that I’m drawn to. Damson is a gorgeous colour, and very similar, but it seems to me to be a colour that’s more dupeable.

I know that this is just me being picky. To the untrained eye that has not had months to fall in love with Pacific Blue, the colours are indistinguishable; and, indeed, photographed they’re essentially the same. I’m not saying I don’t love Damson, because I do, and I think it may just be the closest dupe I’ll get with a formula that I enjoy. (Essie’s Butler Please is supposedly a Pacific Blue dupe, but I am not fond of the Essie formula. Blasphemous, I know!)

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Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the left, Barry M Damson on the right. In this picture I think you can see that Pacific Blue is just the tiniest bit lighter and creamier than Damson.

In terms of application, they’re very similar. They both go on beautifully, without any hint of streakiness or globs in the formula. Pacific Blue looks slightly more even and opaque after one coat, but I usually give it two just to be on the safe side.

They both dry relatively quickly, though Damson ends up being a bit shinier than Pacific Blue without a topcoat. (With a topcoat, the slight edge it may have in this imaginary competition vanishes.)

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Barry M Damson on the left and top; Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the right and bottom.

I’ve never had a problem with the Xtreme Wear brush, but I will say that I do prefer the Barry M brush. It’s just that much slimmer, making it easier to navigate around the edges of nails. However, the wider, flatter Xtreme Wear brush is still very compact and easy to use, and definitely one of my favourite nail polish brushes!

The two polishes wear very similarly: without a topcoat they’ll chip in about three days on my nails; with a topcoat they’re still pristine a week on. That’s firmly within the range of “acceptable wear” for me, and it doesn’t tip either one ahead of the other since they both perform admirably.

The major downside to Damson is, of course, its lack of availability outside of the UK. Nail polish can’t be shipped internationally, either, so once I use up both Pacific Blue and Damson I’ll need to move onto something else – or fly myself over to the UK to grab another bottle of Damson, which seems unlikely. (That would be one expensive bottle of nail polish!) However, if you’re in the UK and lusting after a colour like Pacific Blue, give Damson a shot. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close – and it’s beautiful.

I suppose Pacific Blue is singular. It’s a colour that I’ll need to let go of, however, and Damson will do a fine job at filling that electric blue void in my heart.

(And in case anyone was wondering, my bleu Majorelle-esque eyeliner is Annabelle’s Lapis.)

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish retails for $3.49 for 0.4 fl oz, or $8.73 per fl oz.

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint retails for £2.99 ($5.59 CAD) for 0.35 fl oz, or £8.54/$15.97 per fl oz.

Review: Benefit Roller Lash Mascara

Posted on March 16, 2015 under Reviews

I believe I am one of about ten people in the known universe who absolutely fucking hates Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara. When I worked in cosmetics, I’d get customers coming in every day raving about it, and my fellow SAs were similarly enthusiastic. On the other hand, I consider it to be my mascara nemesis.

Something you must understand about me is that I am not very picky about mascara. I don’t have sensitive eyes, and my eyelashes are fairly okay on their own, so I am not asking for any miracles. My main criteria for mascara are that it does not 1) clump together intensely, leaving me with approximately 3-5 mega eyelashes, or 2) require industrial-strength power to remove. Interestingly enough, I found that They’re Real! violated both of these requests; it is the clumpiest mascara I have ever tried, by an exponential factor, and one time I didn’t shower for five days after applying it (gross, I know) AND IT DIDN’T COME OFF.

Combined with the fact that I positively hated the They’re Real! eyeliner for similar reasons, you might say I had low expectations for Benefit’s new mascara, Roller Lash.

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Top: No mascara. Bottom: Roller Lash applied to the top lashes.

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Top: No mascara. Bottom: Roller Lash applied to the top lashes.

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OMG, a gif! Give this a minute to load; the file’s pretty big. Clearly I am not yet a gif-master. Also, sorry for the shakiness; I didn’t have a tripod on hand.

I found Roller Lash to be, essentially, They’re Real! light. By that, I mean it is prone to clumping but not terribly so, and it is quite difficult to get off but can be removed with a bit of elbow grease, unlike They’re Real! which I’m convinced would survive nuclear war.

That sounds quite negative, but I don’t hate this mascara and I will continue to use up my sample-sized tube. It’s just nothing special, in my opinion. I prefer my mascara to be a bit more lengthening than this is, and I don’t go for the slightly-clumpy look, though I know many do.

I think there are a lot of drugstore mascaras on the market that perform similarly; Maybelline’s much-touted The Falsies comes to mind.

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The brush of Roller Lash is very different from They’re Real! – it has that curved shape that was in vogue roundabout 2012/2013. I feel like we as a society have slowly been moving away from these mascaras, although these brushes were quite popular a few years ago, with high-profile offerings such as The Falsies and Covergirl’s Clump Crusher having similar shapes. The Roller Lash brush has more of a shallow curve than either of those. The brush is also significantly shorter than They’re Real!, so if that massive brush put you off that mascara, this one might be a better option. All in all, the brush is quite standard, nothing particularly innovative, but the size does make it much more reasonable to use.

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Left: Roller Lash on the top lashes. Right: No mascara. I decided to showcase the “better” eye, as when I applied it to my first eye it was quite a bit clumpier. Learning curve and all. However, although I managed to diligently avoid clumping with this eye, you can see that the effect is not super dramatic, at least not compared to my preferences. For some people this might be a good thing; for me, it’s a bit of a bummer, since I like my mascara to wow me.

I’m not a huge mascara fanatic anyway (it serves an important purpose but it doesn’t get me excited), and I think the drugstore has so many good options that I’m rather averse to buying pricier ones. Thus, I wouldn’t purchase a full-sized tube of Roller Lash even if I liked it – so a more apt question is whether or not I’d spend Sephora points on another deluxe sample of it. The answer to that is no; it just doesn’t impress me, although I don’t hate it.

If you are one of They’re Real!’s many, many proponents but you’d like an option that’s a bit less dramatic and perhaps better suited to everyday wear, you’ll probably like Roller Lash. If you are one of the other nine people on planet Earth who hated They’re Real!, skip this one.

Review: L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask / Elvive Colour Protect

Posted on February 14, 2015 under Reviews

You won’t find me denying that my blonde is 100% fake. For one thing, it wouldn’t be a very convincing argument, considering my particular hue and my near-constant roots, but I also just don’t believe in that type of coy pretense. There’s nothing wrong with altering your appearance, and not all of us are born with what we want.

You may imagine that, after enough bleach applications to take my hair from a stubbornly persistent medium brown to a near-platinum, it’s pretty damaged. And I suppose it is, if you don’t take into account what I do to care for it. But the fact is that my hair in all its bleached glory feels much smoother, softer, and healthier than it did pre-bleach.

Even as I started getting into makeup, I was ignorant about how to care for my hair. I used a clarifying shampoo every wash (shudder!), and my habit of blowing my hair dry most days left it frizzy, full of split-ends, and overall thirsty and sad. (“Thirsty and sad” is a good descriptor of a lot of people, incidentally.)

Then I dyed my hair hot pink, over a bleached base, and it became imperative to actually take care of my hair. I bought the L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask (called Elvive Colour Protect in the UK) for two reasons: to keep the colour in my hair for as long as possible, and to keep it feeling and looking healthy despite being systematically destroyed with bleach.

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I added cute things to this picture – am I a real blogger now?

When I went blonde in April, I put my Color Radiance products away since I was using purple shampoo and conditioner to maintain my hair colour. But let me tell you a (potentially obvious) fact: regular conditioner just does not cut it when it comes to hair that has been bleached eight times.

I pulled out the Color Radiance mask in June, and within two washes my hair felt alive, even though it was objectively more dead than it had been in my entire life. I’ve been using it faithfully since then, every single time I wash my hair, and my bleach-destroyed hair is paradoxically in the best shape of its life.

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Because this shit is magical. Seriously, I think there is some sorcery involved in how damn good it is. I brush my hair infrequently because I have wavy hair and brushing it messes up the texture. Sometimes, it can get quite tangled in the back. But when I rinse this mask out of my hair, I can always run my fingers straight through it, no detangling efforts required. It’s soft, it’s smooth, and I have no frizz or split ends. (That also has something to do with the fact that I stopped using heat on my hair, of course.)

The texture of this product is of medium thickness, and can be best described using the very technical term “goopy”. I usually use my middle three fingers to scoop some out of the tub, which is enough to cover my hair. You don’t want too much of it; a little goes a long way! If your hair isn’t super damaged then I’d just apply this to the ends, but I need to cover my hair root to tip because it gets crunchy and dry all over otherwise. The texture thins out a bit about halfway through the tub, but this isn’t a con to me – it still works just as effectively.

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So, basically, if you have damaged or dry hair, whether it’s coloured or not, you need this stuff in your life. It’s cheap, a tub lasts forever, and it works. I’m on my third tub, and I will continue buying it until the universe blesses us with something that is somehow even better.

L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask / Elvive Colour Protect retails for about $8 CAD or £5 for 300mL (10.6 fl oz), making it $0.026 CAD per mL ($0.75 per fl oz) or £0.17 per mL (£0.047 per fl oz), and can be found at any drugstore/pharmacy.