Confessions of a Beauty Junkie

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Top of Old Smoooooky...

I am so friggin' fancy. My friend Courtney showed me how to post pictures to my posts individually. Go us! (BTW, please check out her blog immediately-- she and her hubs adopted the most precious little girl from Guatemala, the story is beyond uplifting.) Here's a pic of the hottest new holiday eye palette from Laura Mercier in Tuxedo. Buy it here. Read on for how exactly to use this thing to your best advantage.

So it's the holidays, and you have parties to cruise, and you want to look extra-super-sexy. The easiest answer? The ever-elusive Smoky Eye. Too complicated, you say? Not sure how to do it? Never you fear, hotness. I was fortunate enough to stumble into Bluemercury in Chicago several weeks ago during a girls' trip (I swear you could HEAR my girlfriends' heavy sigh upon my spotting the Bluemercury storefront... seriously, they would have had an easier time splitting the atom than keeping me out of that place), and they had the loveliest Laura Mercier artiste giving a lesson on the holiday smoky eye. How could I resist? Marla (whose last name I didn't get, so she will heretofore be known as "Marla Mercier"), with her gorgeous dark hair and ridiculous skin, took to my face like it was a precious flower, smoking up my eyes like nobody's business and calling me "darling" in a way that made me feel, well, darling. It therefore is no mystery that I snapped up everything that she and the fabulous Tim (a regular Bluemercury consultant) threw at me. I made sure to get step-by-step instructions from Marla Mercier, and here's what I've got:

1. Start with an eyelid that is primed, gilded with a pale neutral shimmer shadow from lashline to brow, and lined with a dark shimmer liner. (I happened to be working this eye look when I walked in, and Marla Mercier made it work seamlessly. This is why she makes her living applying makeup.)

2. Take a stiff, flat brush and stipple (yes, stipple) a dark shimmery shade that matches the liner-- in this case, it was charcoal gray-- gently up from the eyeliner and slightly onto the eyelid. Don't go crazy. Now gently trace under your lower lid (as close to the lashline as possible) with the same brush and smudge.

3. Take a tapered, soft brush and lightly trace the eyelid crease with the same dark shimmery shade. Go in as far as the inner edge of your pupil to avoid looking like a cave-dweller. Start with a tiny bit of shadow on your brush, you can always add more.

4. If you like, deepen the crease with the matte version of the dark shimmery shade on the tapered brush; that said, make sure you blend the edges to keep it from looking harsh. It should look smudgy-smoky-sexy, not tacky-trampy-trailer.

5. If you want to look ridiculously hot, take a very small pointed brush and apply the tiniest dot of a pale shimmery shadow (white is best) around the inner corners of your eyes. Just outline the skin around your tear ducts, but make sure it's not glaringly obvious.

Now for the rest of the look: groom your brows, curl your lashes, prime them with Cils Boost XL and go with a black mascara on top and bottom lashes. Keep your blush light, and go with a pale shimmery lip. Your best bet is to look for a gloss that is the same shade as your lips with a little shim added. This will keep them from overpowering your pretty eyes. Please, whatever you do, don't pair a strong lip with a smoky eye-- unless you're either a.) a drag queen, or b.) trying to bring back the Robert-Palmer-video days (please, I'm begging you, don't). Add chandelier or (as I liked to call them when I was little) "hangy-downy" earrings, a little shimmer across your collarbone and shoulders, and show us what you're working with! I promise that a well-appointed smoky eye will do wonders for your self-esteem...

You can smoke up your eyes with a scheme of brown, gray, plum, whatever you like. Just make sure you have a matte and a shimmer of the dark shade and a pale shimmery neutral that complements the dark ones. The afore-mentioned Laura Mercier palette makes it easy with grays and whites. It has a matte charcoal, a shimmery one, and then a matte white and a shimmery white. I don't really make use of the matte white, but it's good to have on hand for highlighting the browbone when you're working an everyday eye look. Oh, and the holiday collection from Laura includes the most gorgeous nail polish (the shade is Caviar Dreams-- hello, luxury) that reflects and shimmers like a peacock feather-- go buy it this instant and paint it onto your tips and toes. You'll thank me later.

In case we don't chat between now and the end of this week, I hope each of you beautiful ladies has a wonderful and fabulous holiday! Go pretty yourself up and have a ball!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Mascara Classic Triple-Header

I know, I know, it's been a month since I've been able to post anything on this here-ruh blog. I wish I had a better excuse than "shit be crazy up in this piece," but I don't. Because of my guilt, I am prepared to offer up not one, not two, but THREE head-to-head matches in my ongoing Mascara Classic. Get comfortable, this one may get ugly.

First, a brief recap: for you newcomers, I've been searching my entire makeup-wearing life for the ultimate mascara. So far, the leader of the pack has been Cover Girl's Lash Blast in non-waterproof black. Additionally, mascara does not touch my lashes lest there's a nice coat of Lancome's Cils Boost XL applied to them first. There's been just one mascara that doesn't work better when applied over Cils Boost (that would be Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes), and that just flat-out pisses me off. (Read my previous post about that for the whole story, I've got stuff to do and don't want to rehash the whole thing.) So I've spent the past couple of weeks trying out various new mascaras and am ready to break down the results. Let's do this!

Our first challenger is Maybelline's The COLOSSAL Volum' Express. Is it just me, or is that fact that they feel the need to CAPITALIZE a word in the product name completely obnoxious and therefore annoying? Maybe I'm letting my results color my opinion. Anyway, it comes in a taxicab-yellow tube with purple writing (LSU fans, take note), and the brush is nothing exciting-- it's simply a bigger version of a standard-issue bristle brush. I've now tried this mascara at least three times, and I have three words for it:

Kiss. My. Ass.

Seriously, I have no idea what is so COLOSSAL about this mascara. It made a pitiful attempt at beefing up my wispy lashes, but managed to only fatten up the roots, leaving the tips flimsy yet with little individual clumpy balls on each end. Just the look I was going for! It flakes, it clumps, it sucks. Do not waste your money on this mess. Well, I guess if your lashes are already really thick and long and perfect, and you just want to make them darker, be my guest. The display at the drugstore (and the TV commercial) lead you to believe that this stuff will make your life complete, but who are they kidding? Three weeks later, I'm still pissed that I wasted eight bucks on this garbage. The only thing COLOSSAL about this mascara is the amount of incredulity you'll feel after trying it. Maybelline, you embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.

Winner, Lash Blast, no contest. As my father would say, step down, next case.

Another drugstore contender is up next, this one L'Oreal's DoubleExtend. This double-ended system has a primer-like basecoat on one end and the "Ultra Lengthening Tube Topcoat" on the other. "Tube," you say? Yes, tubes. The idea of a mascara formula that encases each lash in its own individual tube is nothing new-- Blinc mascara has been doing it for years (but at prices well above the drugstore world). Mascaras that tube lashes claim to stay put, yet gently come off with water and a little pressing on the lashes. I'd tried Blinc a couple of years ago, and wasn't impressed in the least (again, my lashes are long and skinny-- I need volume, people!). I decided, in the name of this blog, to give L'Oreal's version a spin and see if anything had changed.

It hasn't.

Including a primer with the mascara is nice, but it isn't very thick and therefore really doesn't plump up your lashes before you put on your mascara. Additionally, the bristles on the primer brush are too tightly packed to really deposit enough product onto your lashes. One of the beautiful things about Cils Boost is the brush: it's a spiral design, but the spiral is loose enough to hold a good bit of product. Therefore, you actually get a decent amount of primer onto your lashes, which builds them up nicely, which in turn creates a bigger surface area to which your mascara clings. (See? It's all a very symbiotic process, one easily thrown off by buttholes who don't know how to design a mascara brush.) Anyway, the brush on the primer end of this product seems to set you up for disappointment. Then we move along to the mascara: as it claims, it does lengthen your lashes, but it does nothing in the separation or the volumizing departments. It did come off easier than other mascaras, but the "tubes" don't really come off like tubes-- they're more like little spider legs. Ew. And I did have to press-and-push a little harder than I think is necessary on delicate eye skin to get all of it off. Again, if you have lashes that are short but really thick, this would probably be a good option, particularly if it saves you close to twenty bucks over the equivalent product from Blinc. I, however, am not of this ilk.

Winner, Lash Blast. L'Oreal, I expected more from you. You know better.

Finally, we have one of those technologically newfangled newcomers: Lancome's Oscillation Powermascara. This mascara's wand is truly revolutionary in that it has a tiny battery in the handle that vibrates the brush (I'm sure there's an inappropriate joke in here somewhere about tiny things that vibrate, but my mother reads this), which supposedly separates each lash, resulting in "extended, reshaped, & multiplied lashes," according to the product packaging. I fought the temptation to try this stuff for a few weeks after its release, only because I've been sorely disappointed by department-store mascaras touting technological breakthroughs in the past (which brings us back to Phenomen'Eyes-- clearly, I'm still bitter). However, I stopped by the Lancome counter one night this week to pick up some Cils Boost (and the lady at the counter had the nerve to tell me they were SOLD OUT, and would I settle for a sample of it with a purchase?, and it was easier to buy something to get my hands on that damn Cils Boost sample than it would have been to get myself out of jail after assaulting her for daring to be anything other than stocked completely up on my beloved Boost), and decided to give it a spin. I offered the package a very sinister warning upon opening it for the first time: "Listen you, I dropped thirty-four bucks on your vibrating ass. This had better be good."

It actually is pretty good, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The packaging comes with an insert that goes on and on about the stuff, the handle, the battery, yada yada yada. The brush itself is of the plastic fin-looking variety, with four double-rows of spoke-like bristles. It's pretty narrow as well, a far cry from the massive Lash Blast brush I'm used to. The button that operates the battery is in the handle. It really does vibrate, and it, well... it tickles. I never knew I had tickly eyelashes, but there you have it. You're supposed to slowly drag the brush up the lashes while pressing on the button, and it only calls for 2-3 strokes for a "natural look." (Yeah, like anything about me is natural.) It actually works pretty well, but it does take a few tries to get the hang of the vibrating brush. That said, it's great fun to convince one's spouse that something in the house is "buzzing" while operating the handle. (In my case, said spouse will retaliate by singing a made-up song called "Chicken on a Mountain," causing me to dissolve into giggles while putting on said face, causing us to be late for church. His fault, I say!) Be careful of getting too heavy-handed with it, lest you venture into Three-Prong-Land and end up with smudges on your upper lids. I have only layered it over Cils Boost, but will give it a shot on its own (as painful as that may be for me) and will let you know the deets.

This one is hard. The new technology behind Oscillation is pretty cool, and definitely a first, but it doesn't quite volumize like Lash Blast. That said, I did receive a compliment from a virtual stranger on Friday night about my eyelashes-- I'd gotten my Oscillation on that morning. And run around in the rain all day. And then taken a two-hour nap that afternoon and not bothered to start fresh with my makeup before going to dinner that night (don't start with me, I'd had the week from hell). If my lashes can still look good enough to garner compliments after all that, this Oscillation shit may be a force with which to be reckoned.

Winner, volumizing and affordability: Lash Blast.

Winner, lengthening: Oscillation.

Winner, newfangled approach: Oscillation.

I'm going to have to call this one a tie. I'll probably alternate between the two from day to day, depending on how much time I have to devote to mascara (which usually isn't much). I would say give Oscillation a look-see, but only if you're truly dissatisfied with your current mascara choice-- as I said earlier, it's hardly a bargain. Maybe one day I'll figure out a way to get reimbursed for the cash I spend on trying out new products for the sake of this little blog. If only I had an accounting background, I could surely fashion a marginally-questionable tax writeoff...

Hope this has been helpful, ladies. Until next time!