make-up update


1. Laura Mercier Cake Eyeliner (brown)

Is as good as previously. I had this stuff many years ago and loved it. The formula apparently changed, and the last one I bought–maybe a year or two ago?–was no bloody good used with water. I don’t know if that was because of the formula or because that happened to be a lousy batch. This current one, though, is fine and great. I haven’t been keeping up with reformulations enough to be able to tell you whether this is yet another version (so, the third I’ve used) or not.

I can say that I like it, and it works as well, as memory serves, as the first one I used. Memory is of course notoriously unreliable, and perception is subjective. Combine the two and lo, you have the endless joys of phenomenology. Cosmetic Phenomenology / The Phenomenology of Cosmetics: there’s PhD theses and books to be written here. And a good test of how genuinely non-macho professional philosophy really is, how accepting of various expressions of femininity and feminism, in the wake of recent scandals and a longer continuity of stereotypes.

But anyway.

Easy and fast to apply, stays on all day, no migration into eyes, removes with regular make-up remover (=the multi-purpose oil).

2. Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long-Wear Mascara (black)

Practically applies itself, brilliant small brush, suits my application technique: brush the brush through lashes in one smooth sweep (rather than wriggling and wiggling), no combing through needed. My metal-toothed Tweezerman lash comb has now formally and officially been relegated to the bag of stuff under the sink. Not used it since I moved over to this mascara.

It (the mascara, not the comb) hasn’t dried out yet, hasn’t suffered from recent cold weather, stays on all day, doesn’t smudge–this is vital, as I wear glasses and cannot bear smudges on them–or flake, is waterproof in rain, and can be removed with warm water. I’m using oil to remove all eye make-up anyway, and that removes this stuff too.

For any of you who remember it, this is very like Bobbi Brown’s earlier venture into tubers, again with a beautiful small brush, the Perfectly Defined mascara.


1.Bobbi Brown eyeliner, the gel one in sepia ink:

Nice colour, a good alternative to my old favourite, Chocolate Shimmer Ink.

But less fast and easy to apply than the LM Cake, and I got some blobby bits in my lashes which then got clogged up with mascara and were a pest to remove. Needing a lash comb, which then pulled out drying tubes of mascara and clumpified the tube-bits, and then the mascara had to be redone and while this tuber doesn’t dry as lightening-fast as some others, it does dry fast.

Might suit someone else with a different application technique, such as applying it after mascara, with a different mascara, or with no mascara.

So: cleaned with alcohol and donated to women’s shelter.

Using instead: Laura Mercier cake eyeliner + water.

2. Bobbi Brown Eye Brightener in porcelain bisque I think, anyway the lightest shade:

Nice but, when timed, took more time for application than what I was using previously. Stung like hell when I got some in my eyes.

Did side-by-side comparisons with my old tube of Laura Mercier Eye Basic in Linen: same shade, looked identical on eyelid (though the LM is too dry for undereye), LM is way faster to apply and settles immediately. It’s drier though, and can look chalky by the end of the day. If you’re Going Out at the end of the day, looking (and feeling) chalky is the last thing you want or need. I might be exaggerating: there are worse things: but chalkiness would rank low on most people’s lists of desiderata for a hot date, warm cheery soirée with chums, or post-work excursions where sparkliness would be de rigeur.

Side-by-side comparisons with my other previous eye concealer, Silk Naturals HD Peach concealer (shade 20): SN was also faster to apply, and could also be used in the under-eye area. Left alone it can smudge and crease on lids, in the crease itself; set with SN (or any other) powder, that doesn’t happen and all is well.

So: cleaned with alcohol and donated to women’s shelter (on a hygiene note: I only ever applied this, from the doe-foot applicator, to the back of my clean hand: so the applicator has not been near my eyes; I always add a note though, just in case).

Using instead: Silk Naturals HD concealer (20) + their Cloud translucent powder.

3. Bobbi Brown shimmer eyeshadow in Bone

Really pretty, lovely glowy illuminating stuff. So long as I only apply it right on the brow bone, next to my eyebrows, and only under their outer section: it doesn’t come off onto my glasses. If I apply it any lower down, or under the rest if my eyebrows: then my eyelashes sweep this stuff onto my glasses. That is intolerable. Worse, it ends up in my eyes and stings. But even when applied sparingly to areas that are beyond the lengthy sweep of my lashes, some of this stuff still comes off into eyes. And yes, I trim my eye-lashes fairly regularly. People with short lashes, or without glasses, thank your lucky stars.

Verdict: it stays until I find an acceptable clone/dupe, keeping it for side-by-side comparisons. And then it goes to one or other of my local women’s shelters.

Using instead: nothing, right now. Do you know of suitable alternatives? Not too sparkly, but at least a little shimmery? And compatible with long eyelashes and glasses? If so, I’d love to hear from you!


1. It’s always good to try out new things, because you never know if you’ll like them until you try them.

2. Sometimes it’s the old, tried and tested, true trusties that still win out, even against what look like fancier things. This doesn’t mean one should trust them and never try anything else, because of (1) above and because THESE ARE THINGS not animate beings.

3. On which subject of animate vs inanimate beings, a reminder that there is a bigger picture.

There is a whole world out there, in which make-up is relatively unimportant.

It’s still somewhat important, because it can help people to feel better. Feeling better can be good for your mental health and well-being. It can also out you in a better mood and make you more likely to be nice to other people. That in turn can make you a better person. Being a better person has been SCIENTIFICALLY directly connected to being happier. And, even if make-up doesn’t work out, you can still become happy from it if you give it away to someone else. So the end result is more happiness, whatever happens.

But: in the greater context, make-up is relatively unimportant. Getting attached to it, and to brands, is silly and foolish. Other things merit your attachment: family, friends, other people, Humanity in general, including people who might not be very like you. Who might have no interest in makeup or even be actively against it. For many reasons, good and bad. Perhaps through innocent ignorance. Make-up could be an alien wonder, a bizarre irrelevance if your existence is more focused on day-to-day survival. Think of these other very different people, put yourself in their shoes. It’s a matter of perception; and we’re back to phenomenology again.


Other things merit your attachment: not just people, but the whole world of animate sentient beings and the rest or your environment. Empathy for other things that feel. Compassion, literally “suffering with,” which can be extended to non-sentient living things and to their whole ecosystem, down to inanimate rocks and up to clouds and the rest or the atmosphere. “Suffering with” all of that because we’re part or that whole thing too, as connected to it as an earthworm or a fly.



Another rapid update, shorter than yesterday’s.

It is now after Hallowe’en and the end of DST, and at the point midway between equinox and solstice. Modern seasonal distinctions between “fall” and “winter” don’t quite map onto actual (and older) seasonal distinctions; it’s the first of four (or more) Colder Phases.

There is still light outside, just about. And UVA continues all year. So: sunscreen is still necessary.

But it’s also colder, and even though where I live is damp (Pacific Northwest), skin is feeling drier. My precious sunscreen (Derma E SPF 30) was getting to be dry, even applied over moisturiser. So: back to Vanicream, the SPF 50 one.

That is all. Look after your skins, lovely people; you only get one skin, and skin cancer is no fun.

No, that’s not all. Colder Phase One is distinguished from the previous Phase by progressive changes in things other than weather (and distance from the sun). The world may be going into hibernation, that may feel like it’s dying, and you may feel like you’re dying too–flu, SAD, general grottiness–or like you’re the Walking Dead surrounded by zombies, but there is some compensation: this Phase’s colours are marvellous.

eyeliner: bugger

Well, the Bobbi Brown eyeliner twisty-stick was all very well except for several things.

1. It gets used up fast. It is a far, far worse buy than the little jar of cream/gel eyeliner. Many times worse. Let me calculate: for around the same price, you get about 1/10 of the volume of product ($24 for a 3g of Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner vs. 0.35g of Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner twist-up pencil).

So long as you already have an eyeliner brush, the stuff in the jar is a better buy. Even if you don’t, that brush will pay for itself over the lifetime of a jar of eyeliner compared to buying several twisty-sticks over the same period.

I’m not going into comparisons with traditional pencils, the kind you sharpen, because I dislike them and therefore never use or buy them. It’s the sharpening that gets me. Or rather, when you get a sharpening-shaving in your eye…

2. The end of the twisty-stick becomes a nub, then you have to sharpen it (or just sort of wear it down to a point on the back of your hand), and you lose more eyeliner than you’re using on your eyes.

3. The cap cracks. Partly because it’s the wrong shape for sticking on the other end of the eyeliner while using said device on eyes, so you either sit on it or try to wedge it on the end of the eyeliner.

4. I’m going to count the cap not fitting the other end as a whole point of annoyance in its own right. I mean, come on: would you buy a (writing-)pen whose cap couldn’t be stuck on the non-business end?

5. The eyeliner inside broke. Wasting yet more of the stuff.

6. Not very eco-friendly delivery method: that’s a lot of plastic for a small quantity of product. Wasteful and less recyclable than glass.

This is no criticism of Bobbi Brown. All the above Several Things are true of all eyeliner twisty-sticks I’ve used plus others from other companies that I investigated (poking, prodding, and generally probing in shops until made to go away by SAs pointed attempts to “help”). Almay (sticks only; quite a lot of people only do sticks), Becca, Buxom, Chanel, Clinique, Lancôme, MAC, Make Up For Ever, Maybelline, NARS, Rimmel, Sephora, Shu Uemura, Smashbox, Stila, Tarte, Urban Decay. Etc.

It’s a shocker. What a rip-off. Or: I wouldn’t mind if I knew the price-difference were going directly to pay for recycling, funding research on minimising packaging and waste and on sustainability, and subsidising a cheaper more environmentally-responsible jar.

Back to the jars of cream/gel eyeliner then, accompanied by one of my marvellous old brushes (free with Clinique’s potted liner). A change of brown, too: away from my previous Chocolate Shimmer Ink to Sepia Ink. Also a back-up of Laura Mercier cake in Mahogany; the last one I bought (just after reformulation) was terrible, this one claims it *can* be used with water (how exciting: so that would be like before the last version… back full circle… ).

Morals of the story:

  • beware false economies and laziness
  • buy once, buy better
  • choose the less wasteful, more recyclable option

hibernation, winterising skin, and some makeup


Skin is feeling drier as the weather gets colder. It’s not dramatic: right now, here in Vancouver the temperature has dropped from around 16-18° C to around about 12-13. Big deal. And it’s currently raining. Skin isn’t getting dried out through dry air, nor through excess indoor heating and massive climactic vatiation between indoors and outdoors. But it does mean that the mid-northern clammy chill has started. Winter is coming…


product and ingredient updates

Golly, it’s been a whole month since I last posted on here. Deary dreary me. There have been reasons, of course: work and writing elsewhere about other things. I’ve also neglected MUA, again for Reasons:

1. Didn’t have anything to contribute, on topics or issues outside my knowledge or anything remotely resembling competence. Ex. teens and twenty-somethings with back-to-school/uni skin blues.

2. Didn’t feel like doing or saying anything beyond a good eye-roll in response to the inane, vapid, small-minded, selfish, and terminally stupid. Nothing I could have said would have had any effect, except maybe making someone feel worse about themselves without the redemption of seeing what they could do to make that (and themselves) better. Which would be pointlessly mean, and as bad as the original folly.

Life and Evolution will sort things out anyway. Nature vs. Folly: Nature wins.

Plus there’s that thing about casting stones when not without sin oneself. And it doesn’t matter: none of these things matter, it’s just an online forum, this is just a blog, there are more important things going on in the real world, which might also kill us all and make online follies doubly foolish and vapid, extinct and expunged from all records. I mean, crap, can you imagine if there were to be a great cataclysm (or if a certain current man-made disaster were to worsen), and the more foolish parts of the Internet survived but every ancient site and artefact from Morocco to Indonesia was obliterated? How culturally embarrassing, how embarrassing to all humanity, would that be? It’s already happening. Egypt. Syria. Iraq. Chechnya. Afghanistan. The Mediterranean, Black Sea, Fertile Crescent, the Nile and Tigris and Euphrates and Indus rivers.

Nature vs. Folly: Folly scores a point here.

3. Didn’t have anything to contribute, when other people had already said what I would have said, and often better, and always more succinctly. Sure, one could add one’s voice to add to a number of votes: but truths, as we all know, are not true or made more true by having numbers of votes behind them.

One could add one’s voice to add The Weight Of Authority (voice of experience and expertise, that sort of thing). And then either feel smug when one’s vote was treated as authoritative, thus reinforcing one’s Authoritative Status, in a virtuous smug-enhancing circle and an upwards spiral. Or feel sniffy if that didn’t happen. And misanthropic. In other words, move into a psychotic vicious circle and downward spiral.

I admit, I sorta kinda nearly did that a couple fair few times. But I stopped, because:

(a) I know I don’t like Authority.

(b) While, being a humble fragile human, I am as prone to foibles, flattery, and folly as anyone else; and as likely to fall prey to vanity and hubris: I feel uncomfortable about the idea of Being An Authority (because (a) above) and am not sure I would like or want to be one. I mean, in two words, Caroline Hirons. Or, to be fair, any other YouTube etc. “guru.”

(c) I’m not an authority anyway.

(d) “Seconding” etc. other people’s comments won’t change that, nor will others’ flattering comments especially if from trolls or Children In Need.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 2.14.23 PM

Not (just) being sarcastic: a splendid charity…

Hey, who knows, I might actually be an Authority: but I would rather risk that remaining unknown and not acknowledged and acclaimed publicly, rather than confusing Being An Authority with Being A Prat. Just as publicly.

That public thing increases the riskiness. The public eye is a flaw-enhancing magnifying-glass, mean and mean-spirited, without filters except those to caricature, by removing anything that is good or complicated, and all context, balance, and bigger picture.

3. Nothing much new or interesting. For me and my skin and products and so on, personally, selfishly. No news is good news.

4. I spend quite a lot of my work time helping and advising other people, patiently and calmly. This can be very rewarding, even when it is also trying. I don’t want to do it in what little leisure time I have too. I know what my professional time is worth, I do some other extra stuff for free for people who genuinely need it, and I sure as hell am not going to give away research, consulting, and advising services for free to people who are often (though not always) rich, spoiled, pampered, ungrateful, rude, undeserving little sods.

5. After having my lovely month away from everything in the summer, I found myself reading through a lot of online stuff that I had previously found to be riveting and worth obsessing over, and now found myself skipping over in a cursory fashion. Getting bored and going to do something else more interesting after just a couple of minutes. Caring less about Board Stuff than before. Often not caring at all. OK, apart from basic human sympathy for people who are suffering.

So there you have it.

News on the morosophical front:

My intolerance of aloe vera has gone, and some fragrance ones have reduced. Discovered via hair stuff used at hairdressers’. I’m using aloe in the following ways:

1. On damp face as a soother and humectant, before oil.

2. On hair and scalp, mixed into shampoo. Sometimes also conditioner when I can be bothered.

The aloe I’m using is the Aubrey Organics one, which is mainly aloe vera and water, with a little gum and I think some tocopherol acetate. It’s a clear liquid. It was in the fridge for use on The Beloved when he forgets to use sunscreen (or reapply, or do it properly) and gets sunburned. Poor lamb. There’s a bunch of different kinds of aloe vera stuff around. A lot of them have carbomers, which are irritating on my skin (in other products too). Some also have menthol or eucalyptus for a cooling sensation, similarly avoided. These are often also an exciting lurid green colour and may contain other equally exciting stuff: fun if you want to develop exciting skin reactions in time for Hallowe’en, perhaps. There is also the classic aloe vera delivery system that is an aloe plant. They’re great, and cheap. Sadly I don’t have one right now, but am planning on getting one.

My skin was being drier, and I ended up giving up on my main vitamin C serums as my skin retained moisture better (and was not dry, flaky, itchy–the itchiness of tight dryness mind you, not irritation) without either serum than with. And better again with aloe vera. Weird, as August experiments indicated the contrary.

Conclusion: skin is weird, and changes, and I don’t really understand it.

On which happy note, as far removed from Authority and its grand pronouncements as possible, it’s back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now…

Truth in advertising + Dove

sunscreen: some myth-busting, inc. limits to the practicality and safety of DIY

The Beauty Brains (2014-08-20):
Some nice mythbusting: yes, you should wear sunscreen and no, it doesn’t make you vitamin D deficient.
(In “sunscreen” one should include all things protecting / screening you from the sun, including clothes, shade, and other avoidance.)

Personal Care Truth: Information based on scientific facts (2014-08-06):
Why you shouldn’t try to make sunscreen yourself (“sunscreen” here = lotion / cream / etc. applied to skin) but should use something that’s been properly formulated (adding: by a properly trained, qualified, and experienced professional cosmetic chemist) and tested.

And from earlier in the summer:

And from even earlier on:

There's no such thing as too much protection, nor too much multi-tasking: here, some chocolate that won't melt in the sun (found online, would love to find IRL)

There’s no such thing as too much protection: here, some chocolate that won’t melt in the sun


sunscreen: why use it?

palm oil: careful not to throw the baby out with the bath-water

baby bathwater

From Thomas Murner’s satirical work Narrenbeschwörung (Appeal to Fools), c. 1512

Via a certain online discussion forum; identities have as ever been anonymised, and any other editing has been of typos, spelling, etc. so that they don’t detract from the actual content. Some good questions:


1. How hard is it to avoid palm oil?
2. And by any chance is it in mascara?
3. What is a good alternative?

I’ve read that other substitutes are not much better (ex. soy oil) because they also take a lot of land to grow. Help! I do my best to not consume items that have ill effects on the rainforests.

4. Or is it all just hopeless?


baby panda bathing

it’s never hopeless…

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