Things you should or should not buy for your brows and lashes

Posted on April 22, 2018 under Reviews

Here, have three reviews of things that are not exciting enough to warrant their own posts. We have two mascaras and a brow pencil, and those things are kind of related, right? I mean, they both pertain to hair on your face. That’s a good enough parallel for me to justify shoving them into the same post.

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe

I’ve been doing my brows the same exact way for four years. I use Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe on an angled brush, and it works marvellously. The colour match is perfect and I get the exact angles I want. However, some time ago I decided that I wanted a brow pencil for travelling, since the heavy pot of cream eyeshadow plus an angled brush can get a bit unwieldy. I’ve read really good reviews of this Annabelle pencil, and it’s always been a high seller in my experience working cosmetics retail, so I picked one up back in the summer.

This is a very fine twist-up brow pencil à la the almighty Anastasia Brow Wiz and its army of dupes. It comes in five colours – Universal Light, Universal Medium, Universal Dark, Universal Ebony, Universal Taupe, and Universal Auburn. I’m not really sure what the hell Annabelle thinks “universal” means, but whatever. I selected Universal Taupe because it seemed to be the closest to the colour of my brow hairs. Unfortunately this colour is a hair warm for my brows. I find that brow pencils are either too dark or too warm. Where is the nice light, ashy taupe I need?! See, this is why I can’t stray from cream eyeshadow.

Here’s how my bare brows look:

Clearly, I already have pretty full, well-shaped brows. I mostly like to fill in the tail and add a tiny bit of structure.

Here’s the same brow filled in using the Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner:

I’m not crazy in thinking that colour just isn’t right, am I? This is how I usually do them:

I just think that tone is a lot better for me!

Colour aside, this pencil has a pretty dry formula, which I definitely prefer for a brow pencil – I don’t want to accidentally overdo it with an emollient pencil. It’s also not super pigmented, which is a plus for the same reason. The teeny-tiny tip is absolutely great for making small, precise strokes.

Unfortunately, as it turns out I’m just not a huge fan of brow pencils. I seem to prefer the application and final look of pomade. Maybe this is just bias because the last time I regularly used a brow pencil my eyebrows look like this:

(However, I also had healthy hair, so that’s a tradeoff, I guess. Although as you may have noticed in recent pictures I’m making good progress growing out my blonde hair!)

I don’t know. There’s no particular fault in this product I can point towards. It’s actually really good for what it is. I just don’t like using an eyebrow pencil, apparently. And I want my brow products to be ashier than Pompeii, which this pencil just isn’t. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy pencils and can find a good colour match!

L’Oréal Paradise Extatic Mascara

I am 99% sure that this bizarrely-named mascara is the exact same thing as the Lash Paradise mascara that the entire world went crazy for over the summer. (Seriously, we could not keep it on the shelves at work. We’d get a shipment of like thirty tubes twice a week and within a day THEY WOULD ALL BE GONE. Except for the brown. Those usually stayed put.) I don’t know why the UK had to give it this name, but whatever. It’s the same thing.

As usual, I am unfashionably late to this bandwagon, probably because this is the first time I have spent real currency on mascara in five years. (I always got it free from work, but now I no longer work in cosmetics, and I ran out.) Really I was looking for something that would hold a curl because I’ve noticed that some of my old mascara faves have failed to do that lately. (Lancôme Hypnôse, I’m looking at you.) This formula is more volumizing than lengthening, which is fine. My preference is for extreme length and solid definition, but I’ll take volume as long as it doesn’t clump. This definitely is not a super-clumpy formula, but it takes about a week to get to the sweet spot, I think, whereas something like Lancôme Hypnôse (for all its curl-killing faults) is impossible to make clumpy. That’s okay, though; my favourite mascara of all time, Clarins Truly Waterproof, also need a few weeks to bloom into its full potential, and I can be patient. (You can see how that mascara looks on me in this post, because it is truly everything I need.)

I like this brush. I prefer natural to plastic bristles so this delivers on that front. I don’t really care about the hourglass shape; it works just fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s especially noteworthy. The brush doesn’t hold onto too much product, so that’s fine by me.

I have pretty thick and long lashes that are tragically straight. Like, if a mascara isn’t going to hold a curl then I might as well not have eyelashes, let alone good eyelashes. I would say this mascara is medium at holding a curl. I’ve certainly experienced the letdown of a mascara that immediately kills a curl and makes applying mascara pointless, but I’ve also seen the magic of Clarins Truly Waterproof and this ain’t that. It’s serviceable in the curl department, though. I also don’t notice flaking or extreme amounts of smudging if I use it on my bottom lashes. It’s not waterproof, but it’s slightly harder to remove than your average washable mascara. I personally don’t mind that; like I said, my favourite mascara is waterproof, and I use a biphase eye makeup remover anyway. It takes a bit more work to remove this with a simple micellar solution.

Here’s how the Paradise Extatic mascara looks on my top and bottom lashes:

And a comparison of my lashes with and without the mascara:

All in all, I think this is a nice mascara. It does everything I want it to do even if it takes some time to truly hit its stride. That said, it costs $15.99 in Canadian drugstores and that is just absurd. I can spend $11 more and get a tube of my beloved Clarins. Next time I’m looking to the drugstore, I’ll probably grab a tube of CoverGirl, which is $6.99 on sale. (Seriously, I know Maybelline and L’Oréal are the darlings of the drugstore mascara world, but in my experience CoverGirl knocks it out of the park every time at a cheaper price.)

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara

Ugh, this mascara is bullshit. First of all, the marketing sucks and is stupid. Second of all, the mascara sucks and is stupid. It basically did nothing for my eyelashes and rubbed off underneath my eyes within eleven seconds. I used it all of three times before I threw it violently into my declutter box.

As I’ve said a million times, it doesn’t take a miraculous mascara to content me, because my baseline is already pretty good. So when I actively dislike a mascara, you know it’s bad news.

Here’s what UD Troublemaker looks like after being built up pretty much to the greatest extent possible:

If you want something subtle, this may be the mascara for you! But when UD boasts that they “loaded up this mascara with insane benefits—for thicker, longer and fanned-out looking lashes”… well, no. That is a lie. Also, if you DO like subtle eyelashes, you can go to Walmart and get Wet N Wild for three bucks.

Here, let’s compare L’Oréal and UD:

The Paradise Extatic on the left gives noticeably more volume and length and holds a curl a lot better. I know which one I’m choosing!

And in case you were wondering, here’s the brush on the UD:

I tend not to get along with rubber bristles too well, so maybe this was doomed from the start.

And there are some reviews of some things. In conclusion, do not waste your coin on UD Troublemaker. Buy L’Oréal Lash Paradise maybe if you don’t mind that it’s very expensive for the drugstore. Buy the Annabelle brow pencil if they have a colour that works for you and you like micro brow pencils. The end.

Packing Light for Prague

Posted on November 25, 2017 under Life

My last few trips I did not bother to pack light makeup-wise, either because I didn’t have to or because I felt I needed options. This weekend, however, I’m going to Prague for purely touristy reasons, and I thought this would be the perfect time to exercise some restraint. As with all my European weekend trips, I pack entirely in one small school-sized backpack, so I really need to streamline my makeup to make room. I thought I would share my very minimal makeup bag today.

I can easily fill a liquids bag with skincare, but I know that when I’m walking around all day and sleeping in a hostel dorm room at night my desire to keep up with a complex skincare routine is zero. So my liquids bag – which is from Muji, by the way – reflects a back-to-basics approach.

The skincare steps I cannot do without are cleansing and moisturizing. The Caudalie Vino Perfect Serum from this year’s Sephora birthday gift will help boost the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra moisturizer to keep my skin nice and hydrated. I’ve never had issues with dry undereyes until the past month or so, so I decided to bring the Biotherm Homme Eye Depuffer (which, by the way, is a nice gel eye cream even if you’re not a man). I got a sample of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor which I’ve been saving for travel, since obviously my poor dead hair requires a lot of moisture. I don’t have any travel-sized shampoo right now, so I’ll have to pick one up at the airport.

The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is such an easy, fuss-free foundation that it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing which base product to pack. The packaging is also incredibly travel-friendly. For concealer, Maybelline Master Conceal works under the eyes and on blemishes.

I can’t be without Milani Eyeshadow Primer, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a staple for me as well. The Lancôme Hypnôse Drama mascara mini is convenient for travel, and I like the mascara as well. (Lancôme mascaras are so hit and miss to me, but this one is a hit.) Finally, a fresh tube of Essence Lash and Brow Mascara to keep my brow hairs in place.

And then the rest of my makeup easily fits in one small bag, which is a point of pride when I am prone to overpacking.

For the cheeks, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure goes with everything and is a perennial travel staple for me. This is the most beautiful flattering blush colour in the world despite how “meh” it appears in the pan. I’m not sure if I’ll bother with highlighter, but I figured I’d give myself the option. Glossier Haloscope in Quartz is easy to apply without brushes and it gives a very natural effect, so I thought it would be perfect for travel.

Urban Decay Naked Basics is probably the most boring travel palette choice in the world, but it’s small, practically indestructible, and foolproof. I decided to add an eyebrow pencil into my repertoire mainly for travel purposes, so I don’t have to mess around with a brush and pomade when I’m on the go. The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe is one of many ABH Brow Wiz dupes, and it works for me.

Forgive me for being extra and packing two lip balms. Overnight, my lips need the heavy-duty power of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, but during the day I prefer something a little lighter like Vaseline Lip Therapy. In an uncharacteristic move, I am committing to a single lip liner – Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment – and a single lipstick – YSL Rouge Volupté in #17. I love moisturizing lip products when I’m travelling, and the soft berry shade of #17 makes it a perfect candidate for this trip. I usually like to pair the Rouge Voluptés with a liner underneath to increase the staying power a bit, so I’ll likely just wear this combination together each day.

I tend to really overpack brushes, but this time I cut it down to the essentials: Magic Collection Oval Brush, ColourPop Blush Brush, ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, ELF Eyeshadow C Brush, ELF Eye Contour Brush, ELF Small Smudge Brush, Elf Spoolie. Wow, I do really like ELF brushes, don’t I?

(By the way, I definitely washed that foundation brush after I took this picture!)

In case you were wondering about cleansing, I did buy a pack of makeup wipes from Superdrug. I hardly ever use wipes, but I just think washing my face with an actual cleanser while travelling is more hassle than it’s worth. My skin is pretty resilient, so I think it’ll survive. I love using actives on my skin, but I know that I can get away with just makeup wipes and moisturizer for three nights. It’ll make my life easier!

Anyway, I’m off this evening with my nice light makeup bag. I’ve wanted to go Prague for years, so I’m really excited that I could finally make it happen.

Inventory: Eyeliner

Posted on August 10, 2017 under Inventory

Let’s quickly run through this. Even I have limits when it comes to discussing eyeliner.

Liquid Liner

A staple in my eyeliner life since forever (aka 2013), I think I will always have Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black on hand. This eyeliner has never done me dirty in four years, which is why I have a backup. (I keep expecting this one to run out because I bought it in June 2016, but somehow it has managed to surpass its usual lifespan of 10 months.) I also have the same product in Snow and Indigo.

I’ve come to realize that almost every NYX product I’ve tried has disappointed me and thus ended up being destashed, but the Vivid Brights Eyeliner in Sapphire is legit. I rarely find a liquid liner formula that my eyelids don’t swallow, and this is one of them. Plus, well, cobalt blue is my colour.

Finally, a third liquid liner formula that actually works for me: Lancôme Grandiôse Eyeliner in Cerulean and Fuchsia*. Sadly these two beautiful colours were limited edition in the winter, but I love them. They’re so much fun and wear beautifully. I wish Lancôme would come out with more fun colours in this line and make them permanent, because the formula of this liner is bomb.

L-R: Stila Intense Black, Stila Snow, Stila Indigo, NYX Sapphire, Lancôme Cerulean, Lancôme Fuchsia

Pencil Liners

I use black pencils exclusively to tightline. Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil in Noir is okay, but not the most transfer-proof. I got this as a gift from a friend and I’d never pay $27 for it! The Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer (last year’s Sephora birthday gift) lasts a lot better, though it’s also overpriced.

In terms of browns, I have two of these Stila Smudge Sticks, in Damsel (a matte dark brown) and Lionfish (a lighter, warmer brown with some shimmer). These Smudge Sticks seem to multiply of their own accord; I’ve never actually bought one, but somehow have four (and that’s after decluttering at least two). Two more: Halfmoon and Purple Tang, a matte grey and a sparkly purple, respectively.

Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Intense in Black Honey is a really nice warm brown that complements warmer eye looks very well. I probably don’t need it since I already have two brown liners, but I like it.

NYX Wonder Pencil in Light is a classic nude to pop in the waterline to brighten tired eyes. I like it! I’m usually a twist-up pencil kind of gal because I’m lazy, but it’s a soft, creamy pencil that sets nicely. I love that they make this in different shades of nude, too.

Finally, two blues: Lise Watier Waterproof Eyeliner in Marin, a navy, and Annabelle Kohl Eyeliner in Lapis, a beautiful cobalt. Lise Watier and Annabelle are both Canadian brands owned by another Canadian brand, Marcelle, and of the two I vastly prefer Lise Watier. The Annabelle eye pencils come in a really great array of colours, but they’re drier and stiffer. The Lise Watier liners are creamy to apply but budgeproof once they set. Of course, they’re also about twice as expensive.

L-R: Clarins Noir, Marc Jacobs Blacquer, Stila Damsel, Stila Lionfish, Stila Halfmoon, Stila Purple Tang, Clinique Black Honey, NYX Light, Lise Watier Marin, Annabelle Lapis

Eyeshadow Sticks

I don’t know why I decided to put these in this post instead of with the single eyeshadows, but what’s done is done. These live in the same cup as all my liners, so that’s probably why.

If you were involved in the Reddit makeup world in 2013, then you probably either bought a NYX Jumbo Pencil in Milk or coveted this product mightily. This was back in the days of savagery when NYX was not available in Canada, so I had to get my mom to pick these pencils up in New York for me. This product does not work as an eyeshadow base for me whatsoever: it creases terribly, even over a primer. I also don’t like it in the waterline because it’s too stark. I used up quite a bit of one pencil on Halloween 2015 when I used it as makeshift face paint on three people. The other one is untouched.

Lise Watier 24 Hours Glam Cream Eyeshadow in Satin Glam is a beautiful, shimmery champagne shadow stick. I’m not big on eyeshadow sticks, but this has a great formula. I mostly use it in my inner corner for an intense highlight.

L-R: NYX Milk, Lise Watier Satin Glam

I also have a gel eyeliner by Essence which I neglected to photograph but which you can see in action here.

There we go – I breezed through that batch of products pretty quickly, huh?