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.

UPDATE: this flaked into eyes and irritated. Mainly from lower lashes. This is not because it is a tubing mascara: I have used tubers that didn’t flake, some that did but didn’t irritate, and some that did and did. YMMV.


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 easier 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.

–Turns out my irritation wasn’t with the BB eye brightener but with the mascara. This was evident from testing different combinations of eye concealer + mascara. So we’re cool again.
—The LM is way dry and drying on me, no go from November onwards, and terrible in the undereye area.
—The SN concealer I’m in two minds about and not throwing out. It takes longer to apply, with the powder layer. It looks very matte, not a great look behind glasses. If you use powder on top of the concealer in the undereye area, on me anyway it creases and looks dry after a few hours. If you don’t, you get smears on glasses.

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!

UPDATE: keeping it for sparkly occasions. I also discovered the cream version, which is more matte but still a teeny bit eye-openingly shimmery and has amazing powers for drying absolutely smooth (no greasing or smudging) but moist.


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.



    • gingerama

      NB I’m operating my own FCOD policy =

      • primarily buying and using products from companies who do not test on animals and do not ask others to test on thir behalf
      • where no acceptable substitute exists, I will buy and use products from companies (such as BB) that are not, let’s say, super-squeaky-clean. I will only use products developed before my FCOD of 2012-03.
        Ex. 1: BB tinted eye brightener (current version = actually a return–after custoemr complaints about reformulations in 2012 and 2013–to an earlier one, used to be in a jar);
        Ex. 2: Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara (1980s)
      • from a company that does not test on animals. Clue: if it does, its products won’t be available in shops in the European Union
      • but if that company is active on the Chinese market, they should also be actively working there to change animal testing policy and practice (and human and environmental rights and responsibilities), on diplomatic and educational missions: ex. Estee Lauder, L’Oréal, Unilever

      NBB the China situation all changed in 2013 and 2014, as testing (where applicable) in China no longer has to be on animals.
      NBBB it has *never* been the case in China that *every* product *had* to be tested *on animals* (despite simplistic scaremongering to the contrary in far too many places, even from otherwise sensible people). I tried very hard to keep that clear, even back three years ago when the China situation first raised its ugly head…

  1. Jessica

    You might try Bobbi Brown’s long wear cream eyeshadow if there’s a color you like–I have Sandy Gold, which is a nice neutral champagne shade on me, but might be too dark for you. There’s also a cream version of bone, but I believe it might be matte. In a little pot and applies perfectly well just patted on with a finger. My pot is several years old and doesn’t seem to be drying out at all. Budgeproof in our version of extreme weather (hot+humid). I also really love Laura Mercier’s Caviar Sticks, which you just smudge over your eyelid and then blend with your fingers, then it sets to really stay put. Again, though, my go-to color (grey pearl) will probably be darker than you want.

    • gingerama

      Hi there! Thanks for the tip! Sorry for late reply, alas work and life. I’ve actually been really liking the Bobbi Brown long-wear cream shadow in Bone. I totally agree, it applies like a dream and stays there beautifully. And smooth, no chickenskin-effect or creasing or anything. Great stuff.
      Glad you’ve found something you like, and that’s worth knowing and sharing, on staying-power even in extreme environments…

        • gingerama

          Yes, absolutely: I know, and you know, and I know that you know, and you know that I know, and you know that I know that you know, and I know that you know that I know, and so on…

          For why I am using anything from Bobbi Brown product–or rather, not anything but certain specific things: see earlier comment.

          If you know of products that exactly replace what I am using–not approximations, but true proper alternatives–please do let me know!

          • gingerama

            Thanks for sharing, that’s helpful! Will think of Illamasqua next time I’m looking into eyeliner. That won’t be for a while, as I’m more than happy with my Laura Mercier cake eyeliner and it will probably last for several years (unless I lose it) (and LM doesn’t test on animals, and isn’t owned by Estee Lauder).

            My Bobbi Brown thing to replace (once I’ve used it up, obviously–to do otherwise would be wasteful and un-green) is the Tinted Eye Brightener, which is quite a specific thing. Basically a concealer that matches my skin, and tones down discolouration, and enhance and, well, “brightens.” It must also stay on my eyes and be completely budge-proof behind glasses. I have long eyelashes, and anything that isn’t totally 100% budge-proof gets batted off my skin and onto my glasses, and that then drive me nuts.

            Must also be dead easy and fast to apply, settle smoothly immediately, not be greasy or wet, not be dry or dry my skin out, not crease or crumble especially in the undereye area; and not irritate. No powders.

            There are couple of near-approximations, but they’re approximations rather than true substitutes: from Tarte, for example. I’ve used other concealers in the eye area (gosh, for 20 years+ now), but while many are fab on the naked eye, they look too matte and flat behind glasses.

            Illamasqua are lovely: I have fond memories of the great excitement when they arrived in Dublin (in BT2), the zenith of the Celtic Tiger when Irish people who wanted to wear makeup that was the colour of their skin could finally do so. A brief window when we had excitement like Illamasqua and when we even had options and choice; Prescriptives were still around, and doing custom-blended foundation and concealer. Didn’t last long. Illamasqua left along with many others with the end of the tiger, and friends back there are still singing the same complaint about bigger (foreign) companies who see Ireland as a small poor market, so they sell a reduced part of their total range comprising the middle band of best-selling colours… so it’s back to a choice between Oompa-Loompa face and nudity. You wouldn’t believe how many folks I’ve poked into Alima and Silk Naturals and suchlike, even with customs and shipping…

          • Kristen

            ugh i can imagine, i have celtic pale skin myself (welsh celt) And i use their one step away from white skinbase foundation as it matches me during winter, but i also have their rich foundation in white which i use with other foundations to pale them to match me and i usually never need much to do that, i also use the white for cosplay as blended down it makes the skin look very pale instead of having a mask of white on the face. So that is always an option i recommend to people if they can normally only buy darker foundations, is invest in the rich in white or off white and use it to lighten them.

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