Tag Archives: comparison

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!

Review: Smashbox Primer vs. Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel (Dupe?)

You read correctly–bloggers have been going crazy about this Monistat gel (for which I still do not completely understand the intended purpose) as a dupe for the popular Smashbox Photofinish Primer, so I put the hype to the test.

Let me start by noting that I do not use Smashbox primer, nor have I ever bought it. I have tried it multiple times in trial sizes, and it’s ok, but it did not do enough for me to justify either the cost or the effort of putting it on. With this hype, though, I figured $6 was worth a retry. (Also, I have combination skin with zero need for extra moisture, hence your dry skin experience may be different.)

Monistat Gel

When you first squeeze out a pump, you will get excited. Wow, this thing really looks like Smashbox. You will analyze the clear blob, maybe take a careful sniff. Hey, it also smells like it. Then, with a deep breath, you will finally pat it on. Success–it feels like it too!

You will then continue with your makeup routine, maybe some concealer, some foundation, some powder. You will tell yourself that it basically looks as Smashbox would, and, feeling like the smart shopper you are, go ahead and go for the well-deserved self-pat on the back. You just saved $30!

Yet, deep down, you’ll know something is off. Maybe it’s the slightly cloudier way it dries. The sheen it leaves before you go for the powder. Or just the fact that you are putting the #1 name in vaginal creams on your face. Whichever it is, you’ll begin to see a little runniness as hours pass, and by the end of the day, you will be questioning whether you had ever put on primer that morning at all. Was it all a dream?

Half-serious stories aside, this gel was somewhat less great than Smashbox on the performance side (more runny, less durable -1), and also broke me out a bit (-2!). It didn’t do much in the way of smoothing anything either, but then again, neither does Photofinish. To me, the only possible worth is that my undereye concealer did stay on somewhat longer with this under it, so we’ll go ahead and donate +1.

An okay dupe if you love Smashbox and will forgo a few performance points, but not for me.