Hits and Misses: Early Fall 2017 (Makeup Edition)
'Early Fall' here covers late August (I know, cheating a bit); September and most of October. I've tried
a couple of too many new products recently so I thought I've give a general run down of what worked for me and what gave rise to varying levels of disappointment.
Let's start with the hits! Ever since my beloved Serge Lutens mascara turned the 5th month mark, I've reasoned with myself that I shouldn't spend $65 on a mascara and have been looking for a nice replacement. Not necessarily a dupe, but something that performs at least similarly and that I like fairly well. Enter Roller Lash! I know there is a lot out there on how great this mascara is, but I always got put off by its reported lack of volumizing effect. Benefit describes this mascara as "Curling and Lifting" and that didn't fit my set specifications for "my kind of mascara". I decided to give it a try though after my Diorshow fail (see below) and GUESS WHAT? I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF MASCARA I LIKE!!!
It's hard to explain how much of a revelation this is for me -- mascara has been my favorite, most necessary makeup product since I started around 12-13 years old. Because I have fine hair, I think I just extrapolated my goals for my head hair to my eye lashes (eye hair? That sounds gross. Also 'head lashes' sounds weird too! English is strange) thinking 'volume = priority'. However, every volumizing mascara (which has been 99.99% of the mascaras I buy) always feels like of unsatisfying. I don't like that thick edge effect, I like it when the lashes sort of taper off... which is not what volumizing mascaras are supposed to do. That's why I like Serge Lutens -- it's not volumizing, it's defining, lengthening and curling. And that's why I really like Roller Lash too!
Anyway, I think this is a great example of how we carry assumptions about what we 'like' without ever even really THINKING about those assumptions. I mean this can (and does) go far beyond makeup but because I'm trained to consider those larger scale norms and ideologies (bc of my profession and field of study and also I think you just do that in general to be a good person!), these other smaller ones can slip under the radar more easily. Why didn't we talk about product preferences in my 'Language, Cultures and Ideologies' seminar? What other wrong categories of things am I buying just because? 😮
I like Roller Lash because 1) it comes in a 'mini' size, which means I can follow my resolution after the Kjaer Weis fiasco to just buy smaller, cheaper sizes of mascara so I waste half the money in the same three month period; 2) it has closely spaced bristles/prongs so mascara application isn't too clumpy (another similar feature with Serge Lutens) and 3) it has a formula focused on lengthening rather than thickening (which, as mentioned above, I just discovered I prefer!). I always use a lash primer (usually Lancôme's 'Cills Booster XL') and a lash comb (just a cheap one I bought from Target yeaaaarsss ago, similar to this one) wiped with Bioderma micellar water. I really like this trick -- it cleans out the comb so you have a clean swipe each time, and the trace of micellar water on the tines softens up the mascara on the lashes so you can get them really clean, separated and clump free.
Let's move adjacent to the eyes to the brows. I've been following Renee's excellent blog 'Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick' for a while now and one product that comes up frequently as a HG is the Shu Uemura 'Hard Formula' eyebrow pencil in 'seal brown 02'. I'm not a big brow person -- I started doing things to them on special occasions with some Benefit products starting ~10 years back, and only started doing daily brow product application thanks to Glossier. I think Glossier's 'Boy Brow' is a great product for a lot of people, but I don't like it because it reacts with the silicones present either (or both) in my favorite daily sunscreen or/and my favorite primer and PILLS LIKE CRAZY. Why I like the Hard Formula pencil: 1) it has a really nice color that is complementary to my hair and skin tone and is very controllable and buildable (takes a few times to get the right level of pressure to deposit the amount of product that isn't too much, like, BROW!); 2) it does not pill and 3) as Renee has already pointed out, it looks like it's gonna last FOREVER. I bought mine in late August, and I haven't even needed to THINK about sharpening it. Already decided to buy one for my mom for Christmas -- you should too.
Next: EVERYTHING BESAME!!!!! Amazingly, all of the products I've purchased from Besame in the past six months have all been fantastic. I've been using their lipstick for more than six months now and continue to be impressed with the formula (long lasting, not too drying) and the colors (#PortraitPink!!! 💖💖💖). On an inebriated whim not too long after payday, I indulged in a Besame Haul, picking up two new lipstick colors ('Red Hot Red' and 'Portrait Peach'); a blush ('Delicate Rogue' in Sweet Pink); a foundation ('Cashmere Foundation Stick' in Bisque) and a setting powder ('Brightening Powder' in Violet).
I really like everything, to be honest. I don't know if I'm the right skin tone to wear Portrait Peach, but I really like the color nonetheless. It's so pretty!
On to the face: I am not a big foundation person. My skin is really sensitive and usually breaks out if I wear anything, and thanks to a carefully curated and strictly maintained regimen, I don't (most of the time) have zits or SUPER problematic redness/tone issues that need covering. Most of the time, HA Blur and some kind of powder is enough to not feel self-conscious. But, part of the fun of makeup (at least for me!) is to try new things, so I thought I'd check out the Cashmere Foundation Stick. Besame's website says it's non-comedogenic and I haven't experienced any adverse effects. The 'Bisque' shade works really well for me as a pretty pale blue and red (over)toned face and I can blend well with my fingers. It has a nice texture too, not too heavy! And unlike other foundations (like Glossier's Skin Tint and the Ordinary's Serum Foundation) this didn't leave a weird mini-pill finish. I don't know how else to describe it -- but like teeny-tiny dots? Anyway, the Cashmere Stick doesn't leave those same dots!
The best part, however, (and the #1 reason why I REALLY like this product) is it works GREAT as a concealer. It blends really well into my non-foundation'd face, so I can even out discolorations from cystic acne scars or late nights as well as temporarily 'erase' things like red capillaries without having to put it everywhere (like the bridge of my nose, which I hate because I wear glasses a lot; or my entire chin area that can get product on clothes when I take them off, which I also do not like, etc. etc.).
Blush! I'm a naturally ruddy person (is 'flushed' a more fancy way to put this?) and I've never regularly used blush before, but I got suckered into trying it by Glossier's tempting Cloud Paint campaign. Cloud Paint didn't really work for me (it made my pores look HUGE!) but it got me on blush train, so I gave Besame's powder formula a try.
I also was able to get the special rogue brush for $8 thanks to a weekly promo Besame was running (it's a nice brush but I wouldn't spend $30 on it -- any brush will perform the same I think!). I like that the blush is buildable and that you can just put a little little bit if you don't want that 'Kate's-on-her-third-red-wine' look.
Last but not least, the Violet Brightening Powder! This can skew a little *too* purple / 18th century aristocrat if applied too liberally, but I really like how it evens out the ever-present redness in my face and serves as a good back-up mattifier.
Here's an example of just HA Blur + Violet Brightening Powder (no foundation, etc.)
Onto the misses. Let's start with a specific one, Diorshow mascara. This purchase was part of my search for a Serge replacement AND motivated by a Dermstore article I read about how you shouldn't wear waterproof mascara all the time because it dries out your lashes (😱😱😱) (what have I done??!?!?!?!?). Diorshow was on Into the Gloss's 'Top 25' last year, described as "The Fluffy Lash". Fluffy? Who wouldn't want that?!
After a try of this mascara, me. I don't want 'fluffy', because apparently 'fluffy' in Into-the-Gloss-ese means clumpy, flaky and sort of... meh? Not really noticeable for me. I felt like each swipe didn't really do much, except add more clumps and flakes. It DID smell like rose, which I really liked (is this a theme between overpriced crappy mascaras? 🤔) but all in all, I'd have to label this another entry in the 'Great Lash' column: I do not doubt that it works for some people, and that they have every right to love it, but it does nothing for me.
Another miss was in a more general category: I found out monthly subscription sample boxes are not for me. I decided to give Birchbox a try and I hated it! I realized I am very particular about what I put on my face and hair need to have more control over what brands / products get sent to really enjoy something like this. I think Birchbox works great for people who are more adventurous or don't really know what they like and are exploring their options, but for those who are hyper attentive (and anal retentive) ... this isn't for you. I did enjoy the mini AMIKA 'Un.Done' Texture Spray, however -- I think this is a great dupe or even superior version of Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray! -- so that was worth the $10 try.
I'll return next week with Part II: skin care edition! 😘