Category Archives: Eyes

Review: Brow Liners from Anastasia, Prestige, Essence, and more (Blonde)

Hello again, everyone! I will be starting the year off with a review of one of the biggest trends right now: brow liner.

To be honest, I have never been very into bold or thick eyebrows; they usually look too harsh to me. I also do not love overly defined brows and prefer a natural look. However, I find that shaping your brows gently just to convey that subtle “put-together” feel can make a significant difference in your overall look.

Now, if you are blonde like me, or have light brows, you already know the pain of trying to find a liner that is neither dark nor brassy. My hair is currently a cool, ashy dark blonde, and every single “blonde” or “taupe” pencil I have tried comes off–if not brown, which is 90% of time–borderline orange. Some brands that I can list off the top of my head for you to not even bother considering are: MAC, Urban Decay, Stila, Sephora, Make Up For Ever, and any drugstore brand. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

Though I got seriously discouraged after facing strike after strike in the higher quality brands, I decided to try to pursue the elusive Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil. The reason I could not try this right away was that they are always out of stock at my local Sephora, but I managed to finally snag it at Macy’s. And my verdict? Maybe a 3/5. The consistency is decent (unlike many) and the color is the best out of the aforementioned brands, but to me, it is still brassy and a bit dry. I also tried their blonde Brow Gel, which is simply a sparkly golden mess.

The one higher-end brand that I had left to test before going to the next step was Too Faced, whose liner a trusted friend swears by, but I could not find their brow liner anywhere. I am not sure if they are discontinued.

Anyway, I then proceeded to dive into obscure cheap brands that I could afford to blow money on, because I figured I had nothing left to lose if my only other option was to settle for Anastasia. This turned out to be my smartest decision thus far. I found two high-rated brands, Prestige and Essence, on Ulta’s website (not in store though), and as they were around $4 and $2 respectively, I ordered them both in their lightest Blonde shade.

Prestige Brow Liner, Prestige Brow Gel, and Essence Brow Liner
Prestige Brow Liner, Prestige Brow Gel, and Essence Brow Liner

Right off the bat, the liners are extremely similar in packaging, size, and presentation. I like that they both come with a little brow brush, which never hurts to use. I also received a Prestige Brow Gel as a nice bonus.

Prestige on right, Essence on left
Prestige on left, Essence on right

Here are what the colors look like. This is exactly how they came since I have not sharpened either of them yet, though clearly Essence needs some of that sharpener (can you already tell which one I like more?). The main thing to note here is that, although their colors are similar, Prestige has sparkles in it!! This is essentially a dealbreaker for me–I hated it in MAC’s liners and so many of the gels, too. Why would anyone want glittery brows on a daily basis? If not for the sparkles, I actually thought Prestige’s color looked more taupe and promising than the slightly warmer Essence.

Well, my dears, I should have learned after all those trials: no matter how neutral a brow pencil looks, it will always look warmer on you. When I put both brands on, the winner became glaringly clear.

Prestige on right, Essence on left
Prestige on left, Essence on right
P
Essence on top, Prestige on bottom, after an hour on my hand

As you can see, Prestige is so brassy, it hurts. It is more like a bad shimmery bronze eyeliner than a brow liner. I have tried using it a few times to give it a second chance, but it only gets oranger as the day wears on. And it is longer lasting and buildable (see above pic), so it looks darker as well. 2/5

On the other hand, Essence looks more like a stain than a liner, and appears more natural on blonde brows than any other pencil, cream, or gel that I have tried. The color first seems too brown when you overapply it, but it spreads out and ends up looking the best on. The one con is that it is not long wearing in terms of staying put in a sharp outline, but I am fine with this since, as I’ve stated, I prefer a more natural look anyway. Plus, I strongly suspect that this could be improved with primer. And at less than $2, I don’t know how you can beat the performance. 4/5

Bottom Line: Essence > Anastasia in my opinion, and I would not recommend Prestige at all.

Hope everyone is off to a good start on their new year!

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Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Liner

I just received this beauty in the mail after ordering on their Black Friday sale (still on, plus free shipping–link below!) in my search for the perfect purple liner. Shipping takes so long when you’re this excited!

ud liner

I ordered the color Retrograde, a dark, shimmery indigo shade. It came in a colorful little box (pictured above). The weird thing is that it opens on what I thought would be the “cap” side–i.e. the smaller one without writing–and apparently this is the liquid-containing side, which did make me feel a bit cheated compared to the nice long size of the pen (-1). But what can you do, it’s Urban Decay.

Super thin tip!
Super thin tip!

Anyway, onto the performance. You will notice right away that the tip is extremely thin–much thinner than Lancome’s Artliner or really any liner I use. I’m not sure about whether or not I like this yet, but at least you know that it will be easy to draw a fine line (+1). You can also see that it is a satisfyingly dark, sparkly color that is, in my opinion, finally a neutral purple (+1).

Extremely fine lines. Tiny hands for scale.
Extremely fine lines. Tiny hands for scale.

I first messed around with it a little bit by drawing on my hand. The pattern above is entirely on one go of a tiny amount of liquid, which is why it slightly fades off on the right, but let’s take a minute to appreciate the thinness of the lines. And let me tell you–I have minuscule child hands. This thing is fineee.

Retrograde on top lid. Excuse the harsh flash and lack of makeup.
Retrograde on top lid, over black liner. Excuse the harsh flash and lack of makeup.

Now, I didn’t have any eyeshadow, mascara, primer, powder, concealer, or really anything on, so please excuse my shiny discolored skin. I did want to give as accurate a picture as possible, and I think you can reasonably perceive the darkness and shimmer. Keep in mind that I applied Retrograde over Artliner in Noir, hence it is probably looking even darker than it really is. However, it is easily as richly pigmented by itself (+1) and easy to apply (+1). One thing I did notice is the slightly long dry time (over a minute, -1), but it could be my bias due to the lightning-fast Artliner or just that I applied over another layer of liner. I also love that the purple sheen brings out the green in my hazel eyes and the blonde in my hair.

Finally, I used my magic Bi-Facil eye makeup remover to wipe it off, and although this is “waterproof” (which has never been a positive feature in my experience), it thankfully wiped off just as clean as any other liner or mascara (+1). Now, I can’t confirm whether it’s the skill of the liner or the awesomeness of the remover (likely the latter), but you can be assured that the combo will work.

Now for the exciting part! This liner does sell for $19 on UrbanDecay.com (and likewise in retailers like Sephora), but it is currently on sale for $10 (as is every other one of the 11 colors)! You can find the retailer page hereand if you order now, you will be mailed a coupon up to $5000!

So the final score? Size deception (-1) + finesse (+1) + color (+1) + pigmentation (+1) + application (+1) + dry time (-1) + easy clean (+1) + special price (+1) = a whopping +4. I will definitely be ordering a few more colors with my new 20% coupon, so look for an update soon!

Review: Lancome Eye Set, aka. favorite Black Friday find!

I was going to wait to do any Black Friday posts until the weekend deals were over, but I am almost positive that this Lancome set–with FULL-SIZE mascara and liner–takes the cake out of any find in terms of value, quality, and convenience. Plus, you get a choice of mascara between the Hypnose Drama (pictured) and Definicils.

Lancome Hypnose Mascara Set, $29

Note: While pasting the above picture, I found out that Nordstrom now has them on sale for $29 here–hurry while you can!

Now, I may just slightly be biased because I ended up getting this as a complimentary gift with my Macy’s purchase, but it would have been worth every cent of the $29 that they had it for as a doorbuster for the following reasons:

Lancome Artliner Eyeliner, $30.50

(1) The Artliner: Anyone who knows beauty knows that the Lancome Artliner in Noir is simply top of the line. At $30.50 for the full size, it already overcompensates for the cost of the set–need you further reason? I have bought this liner multiple times (on sale for $20-25) before, because it is just that good–never flakes, perfect applicator, long-lasting color, and extremely easy removal. The only thing keeping it from Holy Grail status is the color (it is very matte and I sometimes prefer a blacker, shinier black), but honestly, it is the most reliable everyday liner I have ever tried. I ran out of my last one just recently, so this would have already been a no-brainer buy for me.

Bi-Facil Double-Action Magic

(2) The Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover: Speaking of Holy Grails, this is one. Oh. My. Goodness. I had been meaning to try this because it is quite the superstar in online reviews and I hate, hate, HATE eye makeup removal. It pulls, stings, takes a long time, and by the end of it my skin is red and puffy around two beaten black eyes. But with this travel-size gift from the beauty gods, I think I can finally let myself wear mascara more often. It got both my eyeliner and mascara in one swipe–with a napkin! (Shh, I had no cotton on hand.) Plus, the name has a pun, and how often do you get that in brands like Lancome?

Disclaimer: not my picture, but too accurate not to post.

(3) The Hypnose Drama Mascara: Much better than expected! This was basically the cherry on top of the dynamic duo above. I had no idea if Hypnose or Definicils was the better mascara, but I picked this because of the unique shape. No regrets! It has a nice consistency, easy applicator, and dries fairly quickly. Did I mention it goes for $27.50 by itself?

So there you have it. An amazing buy for those of you needing to restock eyeliner, mascara, or even this Holy Grail makeup remover. Doctor out.