Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wonder Winter Berry: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Grandest Grape

Chubby sticks attack again! Well, truth be told, November has turned out to be quite a 'stick month' here on Rocaille Writes. What can I say - make-up pencils and crayons make me feel more like an artist... that, and they're difficult to mess up. Anyway, let's take a look at my new wonderful berry (or is it grapey?) lip color: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Grandest Grape ($17 for 0.10 oz/ 3 g).
Standard Clinique stick packaging - not much to say here. Did I ever mention how much I like Cinique make-up boxes? I have a particularly hard time parting with these, not sure why. I would quite like to own a shirt with that print... or even better, a dress.
The Chubby Stick Intense Colour Balms are the amped-up version of the regular Chubby Sticks; they pack more color in the same lightweight, hydrating formula. Personally, I think these have a perfect balance of pigmentation and softer texture: while pigmented, they don't appear too heavy on the lips and can also be sheered down if needed, and while moisturizing, these are not so slick and glossy as to immediately slide off the lips; for a balm-type formula, they're reasonably long-lasting. I feel this is particularly noteworthy in case of a statement color like this here Grandest Grape.
The shade Grandest Grape isn't by far the darkest berry in my arsenal, which in my book makes it more versatile and appropriate for both day and night time. It's quite similar to the Revlon Balm Stain in Crush (more swatches here), although it has more of a vibrant pink tone as opposed to a warmer rosey hue. This type of bold, clear berry tone lip color is one of my absolute favorite shades to wear on my pale, cool skintone, although I also can't say no to the vampier burgundy shades like Lancome Color Design lipstick in Wine Party.
L-R in both photos: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Grandest Grape, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush, MAC Frost Lipstick in Viva Glam IV, Lancome Color Design Lipstick in Wine Party
In this going-out look, I decided to go with an overall cool-toned look: bold violet/lavender shade on the lid (Lancome Color Design Infinite 24H Eye Shadow in Evermore Lilac), blended out with a slightly warmer brown shade in the crease, medium pink blush (sorry, my camera ate it; it was Accessorize Merged Blusher in Diva) and, of course, Clinique Chubby Stick Intense on the lips, applied quite full-on. In this lighting, my hair appears to have a lot of copper tones, making this face & hair combo wonderfully clashy.
Have you tried the Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Colour Balms? Or maybe you picked up a beautiful berry shade for this winter season in a different formula? Let me know in the comments, I love reading your recommendations!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cheap Thrills: Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencils in Amethyst & Smoky Plum

Just when you thought I couldn't possibly review more shadow sticks, I have more comin' at ya (well, and there'll be more after that); meet the most affordable option in my cream eyeshadow drawer, the Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencils in Amethyst and Smoky Plum ($8.50 for 0.058 oz, I bought mine during 2 for $7 promotion).
The packaging might not be the classiest with its screaming red color scheme; but hey, at least they're super easy to find in my brimming pencil drawer. Also worth noting, the ends of these pencils are color-coded, much like the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, so if you have more than one, it's easy to grab exactly the shade you're looking for. They twist up and down with no problems and feel quite sturdy in the tube.
Now, speaking of Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, they're not exactly the same in terms of formula. They feel somewhat softer and creamier than my Laura Mercier, which has almost more of a slippery dry feel of silicone. Both pencils blend out very easily but I think with the Avon ones, more rigorous blending results in some of the color being lost, so I have to layer them a bit more to achieve the desired opacity; straight out of the bullet they're both highly pigmented though. In terms of wear and longevity, Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencils can absolutely rival the pricier Laura Mercier; they last all day on me with no creasing or fading.
L-R: Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencil in Amethyst, Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Grey Pearl, Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure, Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencil in Smoky Plum, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Pencil in Rockstar, Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner in Powerful Purple
The shades I've opted for are both in the plummy family: Amethyst is a warm plum taupe, while Smoky Plum is a blackened plum. I have to say I'm not absolutely smitten with these shades on my skintone - they're just a bit too clashy against my cool skin and have a tendency to make my already red/veiny lids even redder; but I have similar issues with other warm taupes like MAC Satin Taupe as well. Both however make nice bases for other looks; Amethyst paired with slightly cooler tones, Smoky Plum as a base for darker smokey eyes (which I almost never go for, but let's run with it).
Simple eye look with Amethyst all over the lid, blended into the crease, and Smoky Plum on the lashline, blended up. Sorry, forgot to put on a lipstick!
All in all, these are a great inexpensive option for all of you cream shadow stick lovers - I just wish Avon came out with some more exciting shades for this formula (and, pretty please, a bit more cool-toned?). Have you tried these Extra Lasting Pencils from Avon? What is your favorite affordable cream eyeshadow formula?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rocaille Raves: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

You know, as a combination, acne-prone skinned gal, I've tried my fair share of AHAs & BHAs and some might even call me an acid addict (no, not THAT kind of acid), so I was completely taken by surprise at how much I like this Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner ($18 for 8 oz/ larger sizes available); it has actually made a big difference in my skin within the two months I've been using it!
The Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner is alcohol-free and contains 2% glycolic acid, as well as grapefruit extract to exfoliate, stimulate and help reduce acne discoloration. It's recommended for dry, sensitive and congested skin, but it works great on my combination skin - I've actually started avoiding products aimed at oily/ combo skin as I find them a bit too harsh and drying on me. The ingredients list is short and sweet too, which is a huge plus; and I find the price point very reasonable, especially if you're looking for an exfoliating toner that can deliver similar results to Biologique Recherche P50, Apha-H Liquid Gold or Clarins White Plus HP Gentle Renewing Brightening Peel.
As you can see, the packaging is simple and fuss-free; I quite like the little leak-free 'spout' on the cap as it helps to avoid wasting the product; 5-7 drops is all I need for my whole face, and I've used up about 1/3 of the product in the two months I've had it. I use this after cleansing my face in the evening by wiping a cotton round satured with product all over my face, neck and chest, and then I follow up with a serum and face oil. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and hydrated, but slightly tacky to the touch; it goes away though if you'd prefer to use it under make-up.
Although it's recommended to use twice daily, I found that once is plenty for me - I do get a bit of stinging and redness after application, and using it too often causes my skin to peel and feel dry. But, once you straighten out the kinks - the results are worth it. After discontinuing oral antibiotics early this year, I experienced a bad bout of cystic acne, mostly on my chin, jawline but also on my cheeks. My dermatologist tried to treat it with another oral medication as well as retinoids; however, after six months of waiting for them to do anything, I got frustrated and stopped the prescriptions. In mid-September, armed with a $10 birthday gift certificate from Mario Badescu, I decided to try this toner - and since then, my cystic acne has diminished tremendously; I pretty much only break out around that time of the month now. I've also noticed less congestion overall (I suffer from a lot of small, flesh toned under-the-skin bumps) and a decrease in sebum production. Granted, I can't be sure it all boils down to this toner; maybe my organism started to tackle the acne on its own, or my hormones changed slightly. But now, I do know this: my skin likes chemical exfoliants, glycolic slightly more so than the salicylic, it likes regular, every day exfoliation, and using an exfoliating toner is much easier than a cream or a gel.

*EDIT*: After using this toner for about 7 months and nearly finishing the bottle, I believe my skin is now too sensitive to be using it on the regular basis. My skin might have changed from when I first started using the product, but now it seems to burn a bit too much, and causes quite a lot of redness. I also once accidentally overused it and came out in an eczema-like rash on my cheekbones and on top of the lips. So please proceed with extreme caution and if your skin is sensitive, maybe opt for a different exfoliant.

If there's one thing I could change about this toner, I could probably do without the grapefruit extract; I suspect I may be allergic to citrus essential oils in general, so next I may try the Paula's Choice liquid AHA exfoliants. Do you use an exfoliating toner in your routine? Or are there other exfoliators that you prefer?

Monday, November 18, 2013

New from Tarte: Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Pink Peony

I'm on a roll with these new products, am I not? *feeling very cool and trendy, and automatically being right the opposite for using such adjectives* Up until recently, I haven't owned anything from Tarte, a quite universally loved brand with natural aspirations - I just didn't feel enough excitement to finally push the checkout button on my online wishlist. But, having spotted this adorable Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Pink Peony ($16 for 3.1 g/ 0.1 oz; it might look small in the tube but the size is on par with other lipsticks I own) when shopping the Sephora VIB sale, I didn't hesitate to plomp it in my basket this time.
"Inspired by the whimsical colors of the Amazon and infused with naturally derived ingredients from its lush vegetation, these Amazonian butter lipsticks add a splash of rich color and creamy shine for a perfect pout. Each skin-flattering shade is enriched with sustainably harvested cupuacu and murumuru butters to deliver intense moisture and help restore and soothe even mature lips" (from Sephora). Sounds dreamy, right? I mean - rich color and intense moisture? ...And murumuru? That's like my new favorite word, right next to zarzamora (that's Spanish for blackberry, folks).
Pink Peony, one of the most popular shades, described as 'blushing pink' (seriously, that tells me just about nothing), is a very warm red pink with tiny gold shimmers; you can see them in the macro shot below if you magnify the photo, but otherwise the shimmer isn't visible in the swatch or on the lips. Also, now that you're looking at that bullet close up - can you see that this lipstick is almost... speckled? Very strange. The smell is quite minty, similar to the Lip Surgence line.
However, other than the smell, the Amazonian Butter lipstick is completely different from the Lip Surgence crayons - it's more slippery and glossy, and (there goes the elephant in the room) - it has absolutely no color payoff or lasting power. In the arm and lip swatches, I've built up the color to about 6 layers just so that you could see something; and that something turns out to be a nondescript wash of peachy pink blah. While it feels moisturizing and tingly when it goes on, my thirsty thirsty lips absorb all the glossiness within an hour, and the color is probably gone before that, as it transfers on any cup or glass that dares to approach my mouth. I don't know, maybe mine is a dud - or rather, it sure is a dud, because even the bullet is wobbly and threatens to smush into the tube at any given time.
L-R: Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Pink Peony (5+ swipes), Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait (3 swipes), Givenchy Le Rouge in 201 Rose Taffetas (1 swipe), YSL Pur in 152 Pink Grenadine (1 swipe)
But you know, I don't want to be overly dramatic - it's no lipstick tragedy. I suppose if you're looking for a comfortable, very sheer formula in heartwarmingly cute packaging, it should absolutely work for you; also, the price point seems very reasonable. I, however, will be returning mine; it's just not what I was looking for. Now, excuse me as I mentally prepare myself to shell out the deplorable $35 for another Guerlain Rouge Automatique...

Have you already tried these Amazonian Butter Lipsticks? What is your favorite product from Tarte?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just Bounce... Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge Review

Bounce your sponge, just bounce, at the sight of it, now pounce! See, there's a reason I've never become an MC... but this hot new Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($5.99), already hailed to be the 'drugstore dupe' of the famous Beauty Blender, inspired me to bust out some rhymes anyway. Just to clarify: I won't answer the question whether it is or not since I don't own the BB, but I'll give you my thoughts anyway and compare to another inexpensive foundation sponge. Sounds good?
The plastic packaging is a bit excessive for a rather small sponge, but at least you get Sam Chapman's gorgeous face on the back - and who doesn't love a bit of Pixiwoo with their product? There are no instructions on the box how to proceed with this, so I assume it is to be wetted (umm... sorry!), wrung out, dabbed into product and then - yes yes - bounced on the face.
 As you can see, the shape of this sponge is a bit different to what I've seen so far on the market; it's an orange egg with one concave surface cut out. I expected this side to be completely flat, but it's more rounded - not sure what the design team intended it for, but I use it to pick up foundation and staple it on the face, and if needed, I go back with the clean rounded surface to blend some more. When dampened, the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge increases its size by more or less 50%, as well as becomes softer and more malleable; when you squeeze it, your fingers will leave some indentations.
 Compared to my other inexpensive foundation sponge, the Ulta Beauty Super Blender Sponge ($4.99), the Real Techniques one seems to made out of slightly smoother, finer sponge. The Ulta's has a rounded bottom part which I used to distribute product, an indentation in the middle for comfortable hold, and a small tip to do detail work - I have to admit this end of the design never worked for me and I couldn't get my concealer to blend with it, while the pointy end of Real Techniques sponge deposits and blends concealer well. When dampened, the Ulta sponge doesn't change its size or shape, and more or less behaves like a regular foundation sponge, while the Real Techniques performs more like the Beauty Blender sponge.
In the face shots, you can see how a medium/full coverage cream foundation (Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme, reviewed here) looks applied with the Real Techniques sponge. I prefer to use make-up sponges when working with thicker, fuller coverage bases, as they tend to be rather difficult to apply otherwise. The sponge worked the product into the skin well, giving good coverage but a more natural, satin finish; the whole process wasn't very quick but I think the flawless, long-wearing result was worth spending a bit more time. I also applied and blended my cream blush (NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Big Apple Blush) with the sponge as well.
Left: Face with Graftobian Hi-Def in Buff + Aurora all over, Rimmel Match Perfection under the eyes, NYC blush on the cheeks and brows filled in. Right: Full face with eye make-up (Fyrinnae eyeshadows), spot concealed with Becca Compact Concealer, YSL Glossy Stain no. 15 on the lips. No setting/finishing powder or highlighter in both photos.

So, is it worth it to spend the extra dollar and get the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge over the Ulta Super Blender? I think you won't be surprised to hear that I believe it is - while the Ulta sponge seems just like any other regular make-up sponge, the Real Techniques has more unique properties and performs better in applying liquid or cream foundation. Do you use make-up sponges to apply your base? Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winter Skin Saviours

Winter...?! But Monika, it's only November! I know - it's getting cold out there though, and we should come prepared for the frosty bite of northern winds, armed with serums, creams and balms. Even my oily/combination skin has been rebelling against the changing seasons by withholding its usually generous sebum production, and I have observed some dreadful flakes appearing out of nowhere (and they're not always flakes from the croissant I just ate. Only sometimes).
My everyday line of defense is to up the amp with my serum, and recently I've been using Jurlique Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum* ($54 for 30ml/$150 for 100ml), which promises to help restore skin's radiance, improve dehydration, minimize fine lines and help protect skin from environmental aggressors, all with the help of proprietary Naturaradiance PB18+ complex. I don't entirely grasp what all that is, but I can tell you that a quick scan of the ingredients' list reveals a couple old favorites: glycerine and squalane to help hydrate, niacinamide to brighten and smooth, and some lovely plant oils to soothe and protect: safflower, evening primrose and rosa canina. This light serum/gel sinks in momentarily, leaving behind no residue, just a beautiful wild rose scent - for me, the fragrance evokes memories of my Polish homeland, where petals are collected from the dog rose shrubs and then made into the most delicious and fragrant jam. But, back to the serum: it hydrates effectively, helps to even out my skintone, and its Persian Silk Extract helps to guard your face against the elements. What's not to love?
Speaking of plant oils, Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil ($50 for 30ml) is a long-standing favorite (click here for a review in my Dehydrated Skin edit). I'd put it away for the warmer months, replacing it with a lighter moisturizer, but now it's back, and oh, I missed it. It has to be said that my skin doesn't entirely absorb it; a fine layer seems to blanket it overnight, but in the morning that's gone, leaving me with supple, soft, soothed skin, ready to face the day - and the cold. I've never observed it aggravating any spots or clogging my skin; if anything, it helps to soothe the red, painful, hormonal bumps I get along my jawline.
Every other day, when I'm feeling fancy, I layer Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum with 2% Hydroquinone ($60 for 30ml; I have a sample here) under the Jurlique Herbal Recovery serum. Fall and winter are a good time to fight hyperpigmentation, and while I don't really have age spots yet, I do have a lot pigmented scars left over from another cystic acne comeback I experienced for most of this year. I encourage you to do your own research on hydroquinone, but regardless of safety concerns, I can tell you it works - I pat it concentrating on the areas where my scars are the darkest, and they've become significantly lighter in the space of 6 weeks when I've been using the Murad gel; the results are faster and more noticeable than using Vitamin C products for me.
Now, when all of these standard measures fail, I bring out the big guns: Eau Thermale Avène Cicalfate ($23 for 40ml/ 1.4 fl oz), a thick, oily repair cream I've previously called Band-Aid in a tube (click here for a full review). With its heftly dose of thermal spring water, mineral oil and zinc (oxide and sulfate), it sits on the skin to help strenghten the lipid barrier and lock in the moisture. I'm not a huge fan of mineral oil or greasiness, but as someone who hails from the Arctic (uhm, ok, Eastern Europe - we get bad winters though!), I'm aware that temperatures below freezing require greasy moisture rather than lightweight hydration. Cicalfate also doubles as my rescue cream when I overdo it on the exfoliation front.

Lastly, so far I haven't found a better lip balm for shrivelled, desiccated lips - the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm ($19 for 15g, available at is my bedside table standby. I don't find it smells particularly of honey, more like satsuma orange peel, but it protects the lips effectively with a smooth layer of moisture that feels curiously matte and waxy. I like how long-lasting it is too; in the morning, there's still a bit left on my lips, and they're soft and happy.

I hope you enjoyed this little peak into my winter skincare essentials. Do you change up your skincare routine in the colder months? What are your must-haves for keeping your skin hydrated and protected?

Disclaimer: The product marked with (*)is a press sample I received from Jurlique PR for review consideration free of charge. All other products featured I purchased myself. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as a free press sample. All links are non-affiliate and simply provided for your convenience. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chasing the Eyeshadow Bunny: Rouge Bunny Rouge Long Lasting Eyeshadows

I have to preface this post by a bit of a warning: it's on the lenghty side, and rather picture-heavy. But, if you like a good deal of eyeshadow porn, then you're in luck today - I have four Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Long Lasting Eyeshadow Refills ($19 for 0.071 oz/2 g) to show you, recently purchased from when they had their Rouge Bunny Rouge Gift With Purchase event (it's that sneaky lipstick box in the middle of the photo; but we shall save it for another day). The shades I opted for were Unforgettable Oriole 014, Bohemian Waxwing 066, Delicate Hummingbird 017 and Eclipse Eagle 074.
Can we skip the usual oohing and aaahing over the pretty packaging? I'm not sure we can. But on the more practical side, the eyeshadow refills come in simple cardboard envelopes, not terribly padded but mine arrived in pristine condition. The refills are smaller than the usual single Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadows, and more or less the size of a MAC eyeshadow - and yes, they do fit in MAC palettes, they're not magnetized however. I store mine in a Z Palette.
Here are the four shades arranged together and below, swatched and photographed in studio lighting (top) and direct sunshine to show rainbow shimmer (bottom). All of these shades actually go rather nicely together, or could be used in pairs or singularly with other shadows for a variety of multidimensional eye looks. All the eyeshdows I purchased are shimmery, with Delicate Hummingbird and Eclipse Eagle being more sparkly (both shades feature multicolored shimmers) than Unforgettable Oriole and Bohemian Waxwing, which are more glowy/ satiny. The texture on all four is very similar: smooth, creamy but slightly on the dry side, well-pigmented. They all adhere to the skin without trouble (both on bare skin or over primer), have virtually no fallout, and last well (I tested over primer due to my oily lids).
If that was all the information you needed about these, then you can safely click off - because we're getting into the nitty gritty of individual colors, with shade comparisons and swatches. Starting from the lightest, first up is Unforgettable Oriole, described as a 'delicate, metallic white gold'. Rouge Bunny Rouge's shade descriptions are actually pretty spot-on; you could also say this is a neutral beige with intense white gold shimmer, not quite metallic to me but the most shimmery next to my pressed NYX Loose Pearl Eyeshadow in Nude (3rd from the left). As you can see, I have quite a few eyeshadows in a similar color group, but Unforgettable Oriole is one of the best textures and also the most cool-toned, which suits my skin a bit better.
Clockwise, starting with Rouge Bunny Rouge Unfogettable Oriole, then: MAC LE Veluxe Pearl Eyeshadow in Soft Force, pressed NYX Loose Pearl Eyeshadow in Nude, MAC Frost Eyeshadow in Ricepaper, Inglot AMC Shine no. 111, pressed Fyrinnae Eyeshadow in Nijiro. Swatches on bare arm below are in the same order.
Next up, Bohemian Waxwing - an 'iridescent bronzed champagne'. Uhm, ok, scratch what I said about the brand's accurate shade description; this is more of a medium warm taupe brown with silver shimmer. I actually have something quite similar by way of Inglot Pearl Eyeshadow no. 402, which is just a smidge rosier. Other shades I was comparing Bohemian Waxwing to turned out to be a lot different; the most interesting comparison may be with MAC Veluxe Pearl Eyeshadow in Satin Taupe, which is a lot darker and plummier.

Clockwise: Rouge Bunny Rouge Bohemian Waxwing, Inglot Pearl Eyeshadow no. 153, elf Custom Eyeshadow in Moondust, Inglot Pearl no. 402, MAC Veluxe Pearl in Satin Taupe. Same order, left to right, swatched below.
Delicate Hummingbird, 'cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer' was the shade I wanted to pick up the least; quite unnecessarily so, as I actually have nothing like it in my collection - hence the very mismatched comparison (sorry, overexposed!) and swatches. It's a true medium plum with neutral undertones and mostly pink, but also some silver, lime and gold shimmers (rather subtle, visible mostly in full sunshine). Beautiful texture and I'm glad to have it in my collection.
Clockwise: Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicate Hummingbird, Inglot Pearl no. 420, MAC Veluxe Pearl in Satin Taupe, Stila Captivate from In The Moment palette, Inglot Pearl no. 439. Swatched left to right in the same order below.
Lastly, another unique shade: Eclipse Eagle, 'dark brown-grey plum with platinum iridescence (the richer and darker sister of our Delicate Hummingbird)'. This is rather difficult to describe - it's a warm plummy grey with rainbow shimmer; when I first opened up the packaging I was surprised to see almost a navy tone to it. I expected it to be somewhar similar to something like Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Skinny Jeans; but no, this one has more of a green tinge and it's less dimensional. Fyrinnae Evocation appeared the most similar in the pan, but it's lighter and more taupey.
Clockwise: Rouge Bunny Rouge Eclipse Eagle, Too Faced Erotica from the Natural Eye Palette, MAC LE Satin Eyeshadow in Hocus Pocus, Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in Skinny Jeans, Fyrinnae Evocation. Swatched below in the same order, left to right.
All this swatching and comparing has made me realize a couple things: a) the Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadows are of superior quality and rather unique shades - I'm sure I'll be back for more, b) I own quite a few eyeshadows that, while pretty in the pan, are an absolute dry, sheer, crumbly mess, c) I don't need more taupe eyeshadows (sad face). To finally wrap this post up, here's a look I attempted with all four shades: Unforgettable Oriole on the inner corners, Delicate Hummingbird on the lid blended out with Bohemian Waxwing in the crease (also, on the lower lashline), Eclipse Eagle in the outer corner. If the shades appear to be creasing a bit, it's because I blended some foundation on my eyelids to hide the veins and it turned on me. The rest of the face: YSL Touche Eclat foundation, NARS blush in Sin, Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Shalimar on the lips.
Pfff, now that was a long one - thanks for persevering with me! Also, a big thank you to Bellyhead from Wondegondigo and Kate from Drivel About Frivol for their awesome swatches, which helped me decide which shades I wanted to buy. Have you tried Rouge Bunny Rouge Long Lasting Eyeshadows? What are your favorites?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Falling Short: Kjaer Weis Mascara in Black

I rarely fall for a high-end mascara; and then, more rarely still, I deem it falling short of my expectations. But recently, I was pretty excited to spot the Kjaer Weis Mascara in Black ($38 for a whole tube/ 0.19 oz, $24 for refill) at a sample sale, and without too much deliberation, I snatched it up... only to find myself rather annoyed with it.
Some key points from the press release: the Kjaer Weis Mascara is certified organic, refillable (and thus, more hygienic and sustainable), and it's supposed to be longwearing and durable (not sure what they mean by durable... the insert/refill has a shelf life of 3 months). The ingredients featured include cupuacu butter, beeswax, castor oil to nourish and protect lashes, lavender water and rose oil; the product is formulated without synthetic polymers, propylene glycol, parabens and polyethylene.
First off... this tube is tiny. I don't have big hands by any means, and you can see how small it looks in my hand - or compared to a sample size Clinique mascara below (the Clinique sample tube is actually fatter than the full size Kjaer Weis). I actually really like this simple, small silver tube - very easy to fit in any size make-up bag, and very elegant to pull out for a quick application on the go. My only gripe is quite OCD in nature - the cap doesn't perfectly align with the tube when fully tightened, which you can see below; and you wouldn't want to leave your tube only half-closed, would you?
The mascara wand is made of plastic/rubber and is very small and slim, with short, dispersed bristles that resemble a comb rather than a brush. The product has a subtle rose scent and the tube stopper wipes off the excess product efficiently, but leaves a glob on the very tip of the brush that has to be wiped off manually, as with most mascaras.
 I usually much prefer plastic/rubber brushes because they tend to give a more separated, lengthened effect; with this mascara however, I feel like the bristles are too sparse to really define my rather full lashline (you can see my bare lashes in the top photo of this Jack Sparrow-inspired comparison). With one coat, the brush does a decent job of subtly enhancing the lashes, giving them mostly length but little volume (middle). So, to amp up the volume, I go for a second coat (bottom)... wrong! Second coat results in spidery, sparse, stiff, clumpy lashes - the wand fails to separate individual hairs while the formula makes them stick together and deposits clumps left, right and center. Combing through with a clean spoolie doesn't help much - it removes large globs of product randomly, leaving your lashes half-bare, half-covered in random clumps. Just... clumpy clumps!
But, you know, you could stop at one subtle coat if natural-looking lashes is what you're after (I'm not. Gimme volume!). I could live with the realization that it's just not a mascara for me personally. Where I begin to be rather annoyed, though, is the fact that this mascara absolutely does not last at all - a couple hours in and my husband zeroes in on my cheeks to ask what the black flakes are doing there. It doesn't smudge, it doesn't transfer; it just flakes, and when I remove it with my cleansing oil, it comes off in big clumps as well. It's rather unpleasant if one of those gets stuck in your eye... Not fun at all.
But again - it could be the one I scored at the sale is just old. Or it dried out right away, because of the faulty packaging. However, at this point, I don't really care - I'm just glad I didn't shell out $38 for it... otherwise I would be really, really annoyed. Have you bought any expensive make-up products recently that fell short of your expectations? Any mascara formulations I should cross out from my shopping list?