Archive | March 2008

Urban Decay vs. L’Oreal Eye Shadow Base

In this corner (right):Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion, a strong favorite of mine and the heavy-weight champion of the beauty world!

In this corner (left): L’Oreal De-Crease Eye Shadow Base, the newest addition to my make-up bag, in a trial run against my old stand-by. Will it be able to hang…and possibly replace the Urban Decay champ?

I applied the L’Oreal Eye Shadow Base this morning, and immediately I noticed the difference in applicator. Urban Decay’s is smaller and sturdier, while L’Oreal’s is like a broad, soft sponge. Forget applying the L’Oreal base with just the applicator; you’ll end up with gobs on your eyelids and there’s no way it will cover evenly. No big deal though. Just dab it with your finger to blend evenly and ensure a smooth base for your eye shadow.

One thing the L’Oreal product has going for it is that it costs half as much as Urban Decay’s primer. I can also find the L’Oreal product even in little hick town stores, while I have to order Urban Decay online (and pay shipping).

The two eye shadow bases are slugging it out right now with no clear winner announced yet! After I’ve had a few days to test run the L’Oreal base, I’ll let you know which one is the champ.


Our Messages to Little Girls

I’ve been thinking of the kids a lot lately, and if you have been reading my Smirking Cat blog, you know that raising strong, confident girls has been a concern of mine lately. (Of course I want the boys to be strong and confident too…it just seems like there are far more poisons in our culture attacking girls than boys, and parents need to fight that, not contribute to it.)

How is that relevant to this beauty blog? Well, I would love to hear what you think about raising strong, healthy, confident children, particularly girls, in a society so enraptured with appearance at the expense of character or inner beauty.

What message would you like to share with your daughters, your nieces, your friends’ children, any little girl growing up in a world that emphasizes her hair and body over her achievements and ambitions?

I know what I would like to tell them, and hope they remember. I would tell them, “You are smart, funny, creative, and strong. You are also beautiful, but please don’t think you are defined by what you look like. Please don’t fall into the trap of defining yourself by what you look like! Your face, your hair, your body, are all parts of you, not the essence of you. Society will tell you you’re not thin enough, not blonde enough, don’t have long enough hair, your lashes aren’t thick enough, your forehead isn’t smooth enough, your lips aren’t inflated enough….society will keep smashing you until you break if you let it. DON’T. When you think of who you are, remember what I told you first…you are smart, funny, creative, and strong. You are many things, and you can do many things. When people try to box you in and define you by your looks, speak up and don’t let them. When people try to tell you what you can’t do or what you should do, tell them you have your own mind. When this beauty-obsessed, woman-devaluing society tries to kick you, step aside and let it fall on its face in the wake of your own knowledge of your strength, your inner beauty, and your transcendence over shallow and petty definitions of a human being.”

I have luckily managed to strike a healthy balance between enjoying make-up as a fun, creative outlet, but mainly appreciating and highly valuing my abilities, talents, and achievements. I don’t define who I am, by what I look like. I fear Dove and Sunflower will be snared in that trap, measuring their worth by their attractiveness to others who don’t even care what shines inside of them. It’s a pit so many little girls are in danger of falling into, and the only ones who change that is us. All of us.

What would your message to little girls be? What would your message to little boys be, or even to other women?

When to Save, When to Splurge

A lot of beauty blogs must assume a bottomless budget for cosmetic purchases, because they like to focus on pricier products for reviews. There are very few department store items I am loyal to, or for which I haven’t found a more reasonably-priced alternative. (Urban Decay is one exception; I don’t mind spending a bit more when the product is terrific and delivers on its promises). offers this article on when to splurge and when to save on make-up.

When to Save:

“Mascara– You replace this product every three months, so why shell out for the expensive kind when most of the cheap formulas are the same as the expensive ones?

Lipgloss– There is not much difference here either; anything clear or sheer is going to be the same as the pricey ones.

Eyeliner– Just make sure it goes on smoothly and isn’t dry.

Nail polish– Formulas are the same and unless you use a great topcoat, neither will last more than a few days.

Trends– Anything trendy that you aren’t sure will become a staple in your makeup wardrobe you should scrimp on. That bright lime shadow that was perfect for summer and now looks a little too much like lizard’s eyelids for example. “

When should you crack open your wallet and splurge?

“Foundation– It’s just too hard to find the right color of foundation because you can’t try it on. There is also a wider variety of colors at the prestige level for almost all skin tones.

Eyeshadow- The quality and color selection of expensive eyeshadow is vastly superior to what’s at the drugstore. They contain more pigment and will wear longer than the less-finely milled drugstore kind. The color is bold and vibrant and you use less overall so they actually last longer, too.

Blush– For the same reason as the eye shadows, and drugstore blushes tend to crumble and break apart. If you drop it, it’s a goner. Department store ones will withstand a little rougher treatment in your makeup bag.

Bronzer– It tends to go on smoother and the color selection is better. Drugstore brands tend to be a little too dark or orange.

Brushes– Makeup quality brush hair makes application easier and smoother. Plus, if you take good care of them they’ll last forever—it can be a one time only investment.”

Luckily I don’t even use most of the items on the splurge list, except eye shadow. I know much of the allure of the department store brands is the packaging, the logo, the glitz, but if the material inside, and really what you wanted, is the same, I see no point to dropping more cash. I’ve been disappointed with a lot of more expensive brands, because I made the mistake of thinking that if it costs more, it should be better. In many cases, it simply isn’t.

Free Stuff: mineral foundation, fragrance, etc.

If you are interesting in trying the mineral make-up trend like I am, go ahead and order a free sample of Maybelline Mineral Powder Foundation. The form is short and sweet, and most of the free samples I request from show up in my mailbox in about 4 weeks (sometimes sooner). Of course others never show up at all…

Other free sample offers currently on this site:

*Vaseline Intensive Rescue Lotion

*Dove Go Fresh Ultimate Clear Deodorant

*Gilden Tree Nourishing Foot Cream

*Aveeno Lifting and Firming Night Cream

*6 Free Fragrance Samples from Coty


L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick: Pink Lady

This is one of my favorite lipsticks and a beautiful color: L’Oreal Colour Riche lipstick in Pink Lady (#124). I can’t even take credit for finding this color. My boyfriend Gary, accompanying me on a lipstick-finding mission, hunted through the rack and held this one up as his choice.

It’s a subtle, pretty pink, not a sickly, sugary, or pop-star pink, and I love how it looks with black eyeliner on the upper and lower lids. The lipstick has vitamin E to condition your lips, and the texture is smooth and light, not chalky or heavy like a lot of other lipsticks.The picture makes the lipstick look much darker than it is. Click the link above for a close-up on L’Oreal’s website that is more true to its color (it’s a Flash display, so I can’t upload the picture to this post).

If pink isn’t your style, don’t worry. This lipstick comes in 54 shades!

I will stick with Pink Lady, though. It’s truly a beautiful color, and it holds sentimental value, after watching Gary earnestly sift through the lipstick colors, regarding each one closely, so careful to choose one I would like. I think of him every time I pull the lipstick from my purse. None of the other colors can compete with that!

Avon Women’s Empowerment Bracelet

Avon recently launched the Women’s Empowerment bracelet, shown here with Reese Witherspoon, the honorary chair of the Avon Foundation. According to the website, “Bracelet proceeds will be used to create a new Avon Empowerment Fund. The first $500,000 from bracelet sales will be matched by the Avon Foundation for a total donation of $1 million to UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, for projects that will empower women around the world.”

Even though I don’t even really like to wear bracelets, I bought one (they’re $3).

I do have a gripe, though. Avon heralds itself as “the company for women”, yet I found this on their website:

I was disappointed to see the sexist term “chairman”. Isn’t Reese a woman? Why insist on using masculine terms when referring to any position of authority or power? Why not a gender-neutral word like “chair” or “chairperson”? The company contradicts itself with this. To some people it seems like a minor issue, or a non-issue altogether, but when you hear the word “chairman”, do you automatically picture a: man? woman? Studies have been conducted that using the so-called “neutral” terms like mankind, or man, or in this case chairman, actually conjure up, naturally enough, images of men, not women. So why use it, in particular if the chairperson is female?

Of course I will be zapping an email their way!

Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara

Great Lash mascara turned me off from Maybelline’s mascaras for years; I’ve never been able to comprehend how that particular formula, rather like black food coloring in tepid water, has gathered such a devoted fan base. When I spotted a Maybelline gift set on clearance after Christmas, with an eyeliner, eyeshadow duo, and the Define-A-Lash mascara, all for about $2, my experimental side wouldn’t let me pass it up.

I’m glad I didn’t. I really like this mascara. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it has several things going for it:

  • A cool tube. Hey, it’s cheery and bright, easy to find in my make-up bag!
  • A great brush. It’s plastic or nylon, not the usual hairy brush that gathers clumps, so the mascara goes on smoothly and evenly.
  • No clumps (just had to reiterate).
  • And…no flakes! I cannot stand a mascara that leaves black confetti beneath my eyes, so I am excited this one makes the cut.
  • A good price. I snagged this one on clearance, but its typical retail price is about $7.

I’m very difficult to please when it comes to mascara. I’ve tried more expensive brands, like Lancome and Estee Lauder, and just wasn’t impressed, given the $25+ price tag. I also use an eyelash curler, and this mascara works almost like hairspray, setting and holding the curl from the eyelash curler, without making my lashes stiff and brittle.

As a total side note, I’ve read reviews and descriptions of mascaras that say things like “leaves your lashes soft”! Who has a significant other who runs his fingers through your eyelashes? Don’t women have enough to worry about without wondering if their eyelashes are soft, bouncy, and shiny?

Just in case you do, I just touched my eyelashes, and sure enough, they are still soft, despite 2 coats of mascara. What more could you ask for in a mascara?