Mascara: a perverse holy grail

A review of Urban Decay Perversion mascara

In a fit of folly, having been paid (plus a bonus), feeling flush, I indulged in some mascara experimentation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with Blinc. And when I fritter away a budget surplus on superfluous frivolities like this, I’m still giving an equal sum to charity.

See, sometimes you just need to experiment, play the field, and have adventures. Even if, like adventurers in novels, you’re going to wander off and around and about but eventually return back home. Changed in the process, having acquired new learning, and maybe if you’re very lucky you’ve become wiser.

If you’re going to have an adventure, you might as well make it properly adventurous. Why have one secret lover when instead you could have fun with more than one? And why not make sure it’s properly fun by adding some wit and whimsy? That’s how I ended up with Perversion and Better Than Sex.

Better Than Sex: alas, it was not to be.

Neither in the original nor the waterproof version. They weighed me down and left clumps all over me. An oversized elaborately-shaped wand looked quite attractive from a distance, but the size of the commotion didn’t make for motion in the ocean. Clumsy, unwieldy, a bad fit, and kept poking me in the eye.

Either mascara might still be Better Than Crap Sex in that it took a long time to apply the stuff (plus combing through, removing globs and smears, etc.) and at least it didn’t make me bored or fall asleep or cause physical pain. There was no irritation, just annoyance with the eye-poking. And it did live up to the company name, “Too Faced”: a disappointing impotent liar with an overinflated ego that oversold itself. The Waterproof, for example, was not waterproof. It got positively excited and went gooey in the presence of water.

Sex still wins over Better Than.

Perversion though… now this is what I call a mascara. It’s quite the opposite of Better Than Sex. (While, being Perverse, it’s still Two-Faced.) It looks and sounds like it’s going to be novel, radical, daring: but has an old-fashioned bushy brush. It’s not a demanding imperious mascara that requires lots of work of you, without which you’re not worthy of it, as only the best and most adept will be able to get it to perform at all, let alone persuade it to show its full abilities. (Or: it’s not one of these Emperor’s New Clothes super-expensive mascaras that are actually awful but no-one dares to say that they were duped and spent several times the price of a tube of Great Lash on something that isn’t as good.)

It doesn’t fight or even play with you, but is compliant and friendly and nearly applies itself. It’s fabulously fast and easy to apply. I can do top and bottom lashes on one eye with one brushful / dip of the magic wand, in seconds. The brush combs through lashes ensuring even distribution (no need to comb through after). The formula is a perfect balance between thick and thin, wet and dry, doesn’t blob or glob, and is such a deep black (as promised on the box) that—on pale ginger lashes like mine—you see it immediately on a first coat. That single coat looks as dark as three coats of most other mascaras I’ve used. A second coat on top lashes is dramatic: yet still light.

Light, feels like silk or nakedness. Soft, gentle, supple, no flaking on you. What more could you want in a mascara? Ah yes: not roughing you up, hurting you, making you cry, or irritating or annoying you. These aren’t qualities to which a dream mascara should aspire: they are the normal standard of behaviour that any decent self-respecting human being should expect every day. Perverse doesn’t think itself too fancy or freakish, exotic, extreme, or special to be above basic minimal values of respect, humanity, and care.

It’s a pleasure.

It doesn’t claim to be waterproof and sweatproof and so on, but lasted through exercise and a quick shower, and rain, and left on overnight is good as new the next morning. (Urban Decay have high standards and test their makeup well for resistance and persistence: their Cannonball mascara is the most waterproof one I’ve used, in 30+ years.) On one scandalous occasion, I wore Perversion for two nights and three days, touching it up slightly on the morning of the second day and removing slight smudges under the outer lower lashes of both eyes. (I could have got away with not doing anything and just being bed-head-ish.) “Better than” in the sense of not being melted off by but being up to the challenge of sex? Yes indeed.

Sales, ads, PR, marketing, they’re all full of senselessness and nonsense at best. Envy, jealousy, and harm at worst. Usually the untenable, absurd, fantastical, and outrageous. Perversion is perverse in being true to its light-hearted promise on the box and in the marketeering blurbs: “So intense you might need a safe word, Perversion glides on and gets you sexy in one stroke. (Yet it won’t quit until you say when.)”

Also available in a mini size with shorter handle and slightly smaller brush. Which, knowing my short-sighted love of short handles, might be even better.

So: I threw out the more expensive showy would-be paramours who thought they were Better Than Sex. I admit: I fell for frivolous folly, flights of fancy that weren’t even adequate as one-night stands. I have no regrets: I was curious, the only way to satisfy that curiosity was by trying something out, I did, it wasn’t for me. I’m sticking to good old-fashioned sex thank you very much; and to my new love, Perversion.

Costs around CAD 23.00-25.00

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water/Eau), Synthetic Beeswax, Acacia Senegal Gum, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax (Cera Carnauba/Cire de Carnuba), Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Polybutene, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Potassium Sorbate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Soluble Collagen*, Myristic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Behenic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Oleic Acid, Mel (Honey/Miel) Extract*, Sodium PCA,Hydrolyzed Elastin, Glycogen, Serine. [+/- (May Contain/Peut contenir): CI 77499 (Iron Oxides)].

* Not vegan. Contains animal-derived ingredients, from honey and collagen. Collagen is an animal protein: in this case it’s a marine form, from fish skin and scales, a by-product of the fishing industry. (Some is scraped off nets, boats, and other materials and hasn’t involved killing fish.) It’s a compromise: much collagen in cosmetic products is from dead mammal bones, sinews, and other tissues.

But fish are still animals too. As are insects. How they’re perceived as more or less animal, and how that affects how one might care more or less about them, is a very interesting question: does one only care for creatures that seem closer to us, like other primates? Ones that look something like us: for example with faces, big eyes, eyelashes? Ones that act or sound like humans: smiling, laughing, crying, showing that they experience pain and pleasure? Ones that show signs of intelligent life? How reasonable, sensible, coherent, or intelligent is such an attitude? Is anthropocentrism itself natural—and a reminder of our own animality and limits—or is it arrogant, part of the tragic hubris of the anthropocene?


COMPANY ETHICS: no animal testing, many products are vegan; parent owner (L’Oréal) is not cruelty-free and sells in China; on China and animal testing, see earlier posts on here from back in 2012 when this was a big issue, and a recent update—good news for alternatives, much investment in which came from “big evil” groups like L’Oréal—in November 2016.

Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf. Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Our Brand is certified by PETA as cruelty-free.

Urban Decay certifies that our products marked vegan do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Please note that within a product category, such as Eyeshadows, some shades will be marked as vegan, and others will not. We have an ongoing initiative with our laboratories to not only create shades (and entire product lines) that are vegan from the start, but also to identify which of our non-vegan products can be converted. In many situations, plant-derived or synthetic alternatives to animal-derived ingredients become available. As long as we can deliver the same high-quality products with rich color and texture, we will convert that product to 100% vegan ingredients, so be on the lookout for new offerings.


The secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) “is a very large, mostly terrestrial bird of prey.” (Wikipedia)


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