Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Case for the Basics, #1 - Mascara

Note: While the article below explains why I'm posting today, that doesn't mean that my “break” is over - on the contrary, some of the updates this week will continue to be very sporadic, and I'll be posting “Domesticity Fridays” on Thursday night because I will be off for the weekend. That said, I'm actually starting a series on essays about the things that I consider to be the “basics” in my own fashion and beauty wardrobe. I'm starting with mascara because I promised to write about this in my “makeup meltdown” story last Friday. Read on...

Monday morning turned out to be monumentally crazy for me, mostly because of all the assignments and projects that I needed to do - which inevitably involved writing letters to my profs about assigned readings that don't turn up where they're supposed to be, and highly advanced planning for school assignments that would probably never get turned in until the very last minute. On top of it all, I had forgotten to eat my breakfast, and by the time 12:30 rolled around I was already wide-eyed with hunger.

After finishing up my weekday brunch (club sandwich with fries and decaf coffee) I headed to Longs Drugs, where they had Cover Girl makeup for sale, and I purchased the Fantastic Lash Waterproof Mascara in very black (as per the recommendations in the June issue of Allure) so I could give it a test drive.

Truth be known, there are days when I just don't wear mascara, but when I do, it's always for those moments when my eyes do need to look awake. Usually this means I wear mascara on the run, when I don't have time for full eye makeup or even a once-over with the eyelash curler. This also means that I only put mascara on my upper lashes, for that youthful “I'm naturally perky this time of the day, I swear” look that I need most days. So it's important for me to have a mascara that gives a finished look in no time, without clumping or smudging from the get-go.

It's also equally important for me to have a mascara wand that won't poke me in the eye when I'm putting it on in the bathroom. That's part of the reason why I like mascaras with pointy-ended brushes, like the CG Fantastic Lash and Triple Mascara - the pointy ends let me reach the little lashes that point downward in the inner corners of my eye. If I get a mascara that doesn't have a brush I can work with, what I do is that I bend the brush at an angle from the wand - no more than 30 degrees from the base of the brush, or you might not be able to put it back in the tube. I've done this with a tube of Maybelline Full'n'Soft (another favorite, which also now comes with a curved brush) and I got a lot of mileage from both the brush and the formula; not only were my lashes as full and soft as advertised, but they also curled up nicely and left me looking refreshed even after a late-afternoon touch up.

Since I'm not much of a product snob to begin with when it comes to makeup, I don't like to spend too much on mascara, especially when you consider that I have to throw the stuff away after two to three months of use to avoid eye infections. (Trust me, I know - I've ended up with itchy red eyes after wearing mascara past the due date.) A reasonable price range for me would be anywhere over $5 but no more than $12 when it's not on sale - anything below $5 is bound to look runny in the tube (and therefore let me down once I'm wearing it), and anything over $12 has to do more for me than not run, smudge, or make me look like Marilyn Manson by the end of the day. My only exception so far to the rule is Rimmel's Extra Super Lash, which retails for less than $3 over here (and smudges quite a bit if you get it in regular formula) but has a good, tight brush that does an effective job of defining and volumizing. Which isn't to say that I'm not open to trying anything else outside of my given range, but again - I don't have that much time or money to burn, so it has to be worth the effort.

I admit that I do like the smoky-eye effect that happens when my mascara eventually runs or smudges at the end of the day, but what I really don't like is the emaciated-raccoon look that happens when it runs all over my eyes and I can't just wipe the rest of it off with a tissue. I've also seen women who intentionally smudge mascara around their eyes as a substitute for eyeshadow, which only makes them look like they've been attacked by tar-covered spiders.

As of this writing, the aforementioned Fantastic Lash has held up nicely - definitely waterproof and smudgeproof (in spite of a few stress-related crying jags), with no residue and no spidery clumps. I wouldn't say that I've found my Holy Grail yet - and what woman has? - but I think this will do quite nicely for the next few months.

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