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making faces :: boring reviews

if someone were to ask me where to start with makeup, how to build up confidence wearing it, it's likely that the last thing i'd recommend would be a really dramatic lipstick. after all, that's just the sort of thing that will be noticeable, even on complexions that are well-suited to bold colours [hello my bright-season sisters!], if you're not used to wearing makeup regularly. playing around with soft, neutral eyeshadows is an option, but quite honestly, visible shadow on its own looks a bit weird to me. instead, i'd tell people that their best bet would be to start with mascara and foundation.

yet, when you look at the products i've talked about on this blog, there is an overwhelming bias towards colour cosmetics- lipstick, shadow, blush- and barely any attention to those basics. and that is because reviewing those things, despite their relative importance, is boring. it's boring for me to write about and, i assume, boring for you to read. in both cases, the effectiveness of both depends on your starting point, so reading about what works for someone else isn't particularly helpful. if i tell you that an eyeshadow is a deep, muted blue-grey, it's probably going to be a deep blue-grey on you too, and what differences there are you can estimate by looking at photos. but if i tell you that a foundation has exactly the right level of pink undertone for my skin, or that a mascara makes a difference in how curled my eyelashes look, you have to wonder whether our undertones [hard to determine in photos] are similar or different, if the product will wear the same way on both of us, or if it will change colour more on one than the other, or how curly my lashes were to begin with, etc. i can tell you that i have regular skin with somewhat visible pores on the cheeks and that i'm prone to dry patches next to my nose, or that my lashes are quite long and noticeably curled on their own, but not especially thick, but chances are that doesn't give you the same sort of confidence in imagining how a product will look on you as when you see pictures of my proud self monitoring a red lipstick.

but today, i've decided to buckle down and review boring stuff, because there are some thoughts i want to share on them. so let's all be bored together, shall we?

mascara 

in fact, mascara is a sort of thing with me. i've talked before about how i think it's the last makeup product i'd give up and that i try as many as my budget allows in the search for one that's absolutely perfect. here are three i've tried lately:

joe fresh hydra lash nourishing mascara with argan oil :: it's exhausting just getting to the end of that name... i think it's pretty obvious that i'm not a huge consumer of drugstore products, but i'm trying to be less of a snob where that's concerned and the brand new joe fresh makeup displays that have appeared in the shoppers drug mart [pharmaprix] stores around me just look so clean and happy and modern that i had to give something a try.

the main selling point of this mascara is that it is healthy for your lashes, which is a nice thing if you're going to be wearing mascara on them every day. i'm not quite sure how much i believe the claim, because my lashes are pretty soft anyway, as most people's are. i did find that this left them feeling particularly soft while it was on, which is always nice, and despite the addition of argan oil, didn't smudge or spread during the day. it could be a little messy when applied, but cleaned up easily enough.

it's a soft black colour and very natural looking, very much the kind of thing to wear when you want a very understated effect. i'm much more of a drama girl, but it's hard to argue with the price and, while it doesn't build much on its own, it makes a nice primer/ base if you want to layer a more dramatic formula on top of it.

marc jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara :: ok, we definitely have to just start calling these things "george" or "barney", because there's no way i'm remembering all these words. apparently the "velvet" in the name comes from marc's memories of seeing his mother shave fibres from velvet ribbons to make her own dramatic mascara and this is definitely one that falls into the dramatic category. it promises an ultra black formula and instantly fuller lashes and i have to say that in doing so, it sells itself short. this is one of the best mascaras i've ever tried. it does have a rich colour payoff [important to me because my lashes are very blonde] and gives volume, but it also covers lashes from base to tip for the maximum impression of length and emphasises curl, which makes me look wider awake. a light coat will look somewhat less "night on the town", but, as with all "ultra black" mascaras, it's not something you want for a natural look.

it lasted well, without smudging and leaves my lashes feeling pretty nice while it's on there. love love love.

urban decay perversion mascara :: what. the. actual. fuck? ok, i will say flat out that this is not the worst mascara i've ever tried. it's not even all that close to the worst. but considering the price and the ability of the brand to do so many eye products so well [eyeshadow, base, eye liner], this is absolutely the most disappointing. for starters, it's a goopy mess coming out of the tube and it gets everywhere. it smudged under my eyes, it got on my eyelids, it somehow transferred to my nose, although i swear the brush didn't touch it. i've dealt with messy, because i adore yves st. laurent's mascaras more than anything, so i'll forgive them that one flaw and just be extra careful. but i felt like this was somehow finding ways to run across my face. normally, that sort of thing gets better after a few days, as the formula becomes a little drier, but this one has continued to cause me problems for over a month.

what's weirder still is that, when i was finally able to look at my handiwork, i realised that the mascara had gotten everywhere except my eyelashes. ok, it was there, but for the intensity of the colour [which is considerable], i expected my lashes to be huge. instead, i'd say they were a little more than natural, but far from dramatic. now, one thing that i should say is that this mascara layers very well, much better than a lot of other formulas i've tried, even hours later, in case you wanted to pump up the volume between work and a night out. that's undoubtedly its strongest point.

its weakest point was that it's very irritating. i don't mean that in the "i'm annoyed about the mess" way, either. i mean it literally irritates my eyes. i often feel like there's bits of grit in my eyes when i use this [although i can't see them] and i often have to clean the tip of the wand before use, because there seem to be these fibrous strings attached right out of the tube. and with a formula this prone to dispersing itself, it's pretty much a given that, sooner or later, some of it is going to end up in your eye. agony. it's happened a couple of times and the pain and irritation was literally incapacitating. as in, i had to stop what i was doing and apply a cold compress to my face and eyes for ten or fifteen minutes. so on top of everything else, i'm afraid of the mascara. i do not want to spend good money on cosmetics only to live in fear of them.

foundations

i'm constantly fretting over whether or not i've found the perfect foundation, which i know must be out there. as with mascara, there are several i quite like: nars all-day luminous weightless foundation, ysl encre de peau and urban decay naked skin are all winners for me. but i can't help wondering if there's something out there that's even more perfect for me. so i've been doing a little experimentation.

tarte rainforest of the sea water foundation :: launched at the same time as their gorgeous rainforest of the sea palette, i saw this foundation getting a lot of love just at the time when i was needing another bottle. so, in the interest of newness and science, i took the plunge. a few months later, i'm kind of befuddled, because it's made very little impression on me, with one exception. it has good coverage, although the formula is thick for my tastes and quite different than other water-based foundations i've tried. the colour range is somewhat limited and even with my summer "tan", which takes me from about a mac nc15 to a mac nc18, the lightest shade is a bit dark for me. i also find that the undertone of all the shades seems orange, which is the strange compromise brands seem to make when they don't want to split their colour offering between cool [pink] and warm [gold] undertones.

it does give nice enough coverage, although i find that my freckles have a habit of poking through even a heavier application. it lasts quite well, although it can turn patchy in hot, humid weather [something most foundations do]. it gives a smooth finish, but not like the three favourites i listed above. i'm inclined to think that it might be best applied over a primer, but while i'm a daily user of shadow primer, i generally don't bother with face primer, unless it's a special occasion.

but the big question that i recommend asking yourself before springing for this is: how do i feel about the smell of latex?

i personally loathe it and this foundation has a noticeable rubbery, latex-like scent that does not ever fade. when i wear it, i'm constantly aware of the smell and i worry that others are too, like i'm suddenly their giant condom friend. that alone will stop me from repurchasing this, but if the scent doesn't bother you [and keep in mind that i'm probably more aware of it because i hate it] then it's a good product.

marcelle flawless skin fusion foundation :: of any of the drugstore brands i've tried, marcelle is my favourite. i find that their products come close to those of a lot of higher end products at a much lower price. plus they're hypoallergenic, which is nice for someone who's allergic to summer. i tried this foundation on in-store and was really impressed at the soft natural matte finish it gave and that just a tiny bit lasted from late afternoon until i washed my face before bed. the idea that i might have found a perfect foundation for less than half the price of any of my favourites was kind of thrilling, so i really wanted to love it.

unfortunately, i don't. it's not a bad foundation, not by any means. i'd even say that it's a damn good foundation for the price. but it's not what i'd hoped from that initial application. the fairest shade is a decent match for my skin and it feels lovely and light. but, applied over cream and sunscreen, even when i give them lots of time to sink in/ set, my skin, especially my nose, gets very shiny. and the colour fades way too quickly. i'm surprised at how little there is left when i wash my face at the end of the day- barely a smudge on my makeup removing wipe. aside from wondering where the hell it goes, i wonder why my pre-purchase test seemed so much more promising.

marc jacobs re[marc]able full coverage foundation concentrate :: the young woman at sephora warned me that it took just a tiny bit of product- one or two drops- to get full coverage. i thought that sounded like an exaggeration, but no; applied on its own, anything more than a pinprick makes it look like you're wearing a mask. that's because this is a concentrate, sort of like frozen orange juice you put on your face. you're supposed to mix it with primer or lotion rather than apply it "straight".

that's good, because applied directly, i could not blend this with an industrial buffer. it absolutely needs something to lend it viscosity, because on its own, it grabs on to skin and sets like paint. i mean, i know i've liked makeup to theatrical paint or warpaint before, but i don't want what i put on my face to have the properties of actual fucking paint.

combined with lotion, it's much easier to spread, although it is quite tricky getting the right ratio. too much foundation and it still looks like a mask. too little and the foundation just pools or slides away. when you do get the ratio correct, this is a really nice, light product that offers very good coverage. unfortunately, using lotion rather than primer greatly cuts its wear time, especially if you have spots that are oily.

considering that the finish is never quite as nice as what i get from my regular favourites and that there is an extremely steep learning curve, this isn't something i'll be restocking either. i think it's a product that's better placed in the hands of professionals, or at least those with skills a lot greater than mine.

in total, that's six products and only one sure winner. i have never gone through a stretch where i bought six lipsticks and didn't really like at least five of them. so aside from being dull, these products are much more frustrating, even though they're probably the most important things you can put on. life is woe. 

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