Make up, she wrote – Part II

Herewith Part II of the post on my absolute favourite can’t-live-without cosmetic products.  Part I was all about the face – concealer, foundations, powder, blush and highlighters.  I continue on with eyes, lips and make up tools.


Mascara:  Max Factor Masterpiece MAX Mascara  [Black]  [I believe this is called Lash Perfection in the USA]

I’m addicted to thick, curly, blacker-than-black lashes.  As I was blessed at birth with white-blond eyelashes [admittedly long and curly], mascara is a necessity lest I look like the White Rabbit.  I also wear contact lenses and have medium-sensitive eyes, so it’s essential to find products that don’t contain nylon fibres which happily flake into the eyes all day long, a formula that doesn’t glug into the eyes, get absorbed by the lens and result in blurry cloudy eyesight – not to mention the risk of bacteria and infection.  Mmm conjunctivitis.  Maybelline Full & Soft and DIOR Diorshow were my favourite mascaras for ages but they weren’t perfect

Then the “new breed” of mascaras came on the market.  Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara was probably one of the first with the New Brush made of moulded silicone rubber.  I’ve found it to be the most contact lens friendly, with no gunky blurriness, bits of flakey bristle or dried up mascara getting into my eyes and on the lens.

Max Factor Masterpiece MAX Mascara is a dramatic mascara that gets to every single lash, gives perfectly defined lashes, and ultra long, thick, curly, very, very, very black lashes.  Massive, in fact.  Would you believe, all this with zero clumping, smudging, or flaking.  Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  But it’s for real.  The results are pretty dramatic to say the least.  Masterpiece MAX plus my new eyelash curler gives me truly amazing lashes.  I’ve even had several remarks along the lines of “are you wearing FAKE LASHES?”.   Nope, it’s all me, baby.

If the MAX version is a bit too Tammy Faye or unsubtle for you, then the regular formula Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara will be perfect; it is also available in waterproof formula.

Oh and just my two cents worth;  Maybelline Great Lash is a vile abhorrent product and there must be some global conspiracy for it to still be included in beauty editors’ Best Beauty Buys Lists when there are so many nice basic mascaras out there.  They don’t have to be brilliant to be better than GL, yeeeuuuuurkkkk.

Eye Brows:  MAC Eye Shadow applied with MAC # 266 Small Angled Brush;  OR MAC Automatic Eye Brow Pencil  [Lingering]

I have thick brows which after years of strenuous taming now have a pretty good natural shape, only requiring a mega-tweeze every now and then.  The only problem is that, like my eyelashes,  they are so blonde as to be invisible so require a certain amount of tarting up – not too much, mind, just a little colour and control.

My preferred method is to use a mid-brown eye shadow [MAC Coquette] applied with a small stiff angled brush.  This gives a really natural and full look to brows.  The eye shadow can be blended down or built up depending on the “look” you seek.  I guess if your brows needed serious taming [hee! S&M for brows] you could use a little gel or clear mascara over the top. I’m not a fan of the waxy crayons and kits out there, too much fuss and the brows look like you’ve used wax, the product can ball up and rub down and generally behave in an un-pretty manner.

The automatic twist-up brow pencil is a little more precise and many girlies and boysies prefer to use a sharp brow pencil – it’s also easier to pop into one’s mini make up bag for daily touch ups or emergencies.

Eye Liner:   MAC Kohl Eye Liner  [Smolder;  Phone Number;  Tarnish;  Teddy;  Powersurge]

Along with mascara, eye liner is one of the steps I never ever miss.  I have big light green eyes surrounded by invisible lashes in a pale face and some definition and oomph is required.  I don’t do the bare, no-make-up look as it makes me look zombified, ill and knackered even when I’m not.  Due to the contact lens issue, it’s essential – as with mascara – that liner doesn’t flake or migrate into my eyes.

MAC is my favourite line for eye liner; I don’t bother with any other brand now as whenever I have tried something new it’s been a dismal failure and I go slinking back to my preciousss.  MAC Kohl Eye Liners are incredibly soft and gentle on the eye with intense colour pay-off, and are great for smudging or precision lining.  They don’t run or smudge, and come in a wide range of neutral or vibrant colours with matte or shimmering effects.  And after all that, make up remover is a breeze too – you don’t need to scrub at your eyes with a washing-up sponge for half an hour.

Max Factor’s kohl pencils are about the best of the budget options, and I carry a black one in my make up purse for touch-ups / emergencies as they are nice and soft and create a precise or smudged line depending on preference, without running.   The shade choice is very limited, though.  Others I’ve tried are pretty damn vile [I’m looking at YOU, Rimmel, L’Oreal, CoverGirl, Laura Mercier . . .] and are just too harsh on the tender eyelids.

Eye Shadow:  MAC Eye Shadow Pans  [um, lots . . .]

One of the few cases where beauty editors [mags or online] do speak truly regards eye shadow;  the more expensive lines are indeed better and more worthwhile buying over budget / inexpensive lines.  Higher-end eye shadows have more intense pigment, are more finely milled and pressed, giving greater subtlety, blend-ability and essentially more bang for your buck.  They also tend to have better staying power than cheaper brands, so don’t travel halfway down your face or disappear during the course of a day or night out.

Yet again, I turn to MAC; the eye shadows are gorgeous with intense pigmentation, are finely milled, easy to apply and blend or build, and there’s an incredible range of colours and textures [Frost, Veluxe Pearl, Satin, Matte etc].  I have amassed a fairly minimal but comprehensive collection of greens / blues, purples, gold / browns, and monochromatic shades so I can play around with heaps of different looks and combinations.

MAC’s palettes are fantastic too, and excellent value especially if you’re wanting to try a new look.  For example I had always been a bit frightened of neutrals and loved using colour.  Browns and taupes just didn’t to do anything for me except make me look washed out and yeeuuuurkkkkkk.  Then for Christmas 2006 I was given both the Warm Eyes and Smoke Eyes Palettes [thanks, Tuxedo!] and after much playing around discovered the joys of a smoky bronzey gold eye.  The trick for me is to use shades with lots of gold and peach in them, not matte grey-browns, but I never would have worked this out if I hadn’t been able to play around a bit.

. . . . . . . . . .


Lip Liner

I don’t use lip liner, finding it an unnecessary step – partly because I have a naturally defined and full lip line and partly because I can’t be arsed – so I really can’t comment.   Chanel, Lancôme, Clarins, DIOR and MAC of course all do fantastic lip liners, great textures and colour ranges, and some have smudge or lip brushes on the other end which is a neat idea

Lipstick:   MAC Lipstick  [Viva Glam VI;  Lady Bug;  Sophisto;  Strawbaby]

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, and I promise faithfully I’m not on any commission or deal [I wish!] but MAC’s lipsticks are my one and only choice.  I may have one or two from other brands [DIOR, Shu Uemura, Lancôme] but MAC always wins out.  The lippies come in a wide range of formulas so there’s something for every taste preference – Amplified Crème, Frost, Matte, Satin, Lustre [my personal favourite]. 

Regardless of whether they are creamy, sheer or frosty, they are all absolutely true to colour, don’t “turn” a weird shade when applied, have excellent pigment and colour pay-off, are moisturising and smoothing, and even the Sheer and Lustre formulas have great staying power.  There will be a shade or three to suit even the most difficult-to-suit make up junkie [as I should know much to my own frustration] with an amazing 180-plus to choose from, and new and limited-edition shades being added all the time.

MAC’s Viva Glam range is an amazing programme; the lip colours are also amazing, really pretty popular colours unlike the “meh” shades that no one would buy [like SOME brands I could name which make a huge fuss about the generous, tireless, important work they do for Breast Cancer Research donating a massive USD 0.50 from a fugly product that costs USD 40.00, only during “Cancer Month”.  Greedy hypocritical wankers] so this really highlights MAC’s commitment to it’s cause.  They choose fabulous spokesmodels too, really big names.

Lip Gloss:  MAC Lipglass  [Viva Glam VI;  Lust;  Squeeze It]:  NARS Lip Gloss  [Dolce Vita]:  Stila Lip Glaze   [Cranberry;  Guava]

I never used to be a big lip gloss user.  I figured my lips were plenty juicy and pouty enough and I’m very self conscious about them, so I steered away from products that enhanced The Pout [don’t even get me started on lip plumpers, ‘kay?].  I also hated the “sponge on a stick” design which was – and remains – so prevalent, and the gloopiness and stickiness of glosses in general.  However I’ve come to realise that lip glosses are just as flattering as lipsticks when you’ve got a big mouth.  As for the gloopiness and stickiness, formulas have improved enormously since my early forays into make up. 

I still do prefer a brush with my lip gloss but have reached an understanding with the doe’s foot [the sponge on a stick], though it depends entirely on the brand.  The brush in Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss is shockingly bad, it is very stiff and the bristles splay out in all directions, so application is unpleasant and near impossible.  A pity as the product itself is quite nice but I won’t spend money on something that’s so damn annoying and useless; BB should be ashamed of herself making such a nasty thing. 

MAC is, again, my favourite brand – lipsticks and glosses are what put them on the make up map.  Application is easy with a great quality shaped doe’s foot applicator and there are many, many gorgeous colours.  While I don’t have the 30 or so lip glosses that other make up junkies have, there are at least two – okay, three – I keep in my stash at all times.

NARS and Stila are cult products for good reason, great quality and performance and I like them well enough, especially Stila’s click-pen design and I find NARS have more of a lipstick texture than a gloss, but oh I remain loyal to MAC so despite jonesing will not two-time my beloved.

. . . . . . . . . .


Make Up Brushes:  MAC

You must have the best quality brushes !!!! Cannot over-emphasise importance of this !!! [more exclamation marks !!!]

Seriously though, really great quality brushes make a shitload of difference to make up application, texture, blending and effect.  Sure I’m a MAC girl but their brushes really do give a professional finish even in my clumsy hands.  They are all designed by and for professional make up artists, and are hand-made with a variety of synthetic and natural fibres of different stiffness / flexibility.  They’re not that pricey either, compared to Bobbi Brown et al – and definitely better economy compared to cheap chemist lines that fall apart before the first use.

While MAC has several dozen brushes to choose from, my personal Top Ten Must Haves are as follows:-

1.          # 129 Powder / Blush Brush.  I think it’s the smallest of MAC powder brushes, and for me is the perfect size to powder my mug in a controlled fashion.  The fact that it can [and does] double as a blush / highlighter brush is a plus.  It does a superb job at both and is probably the nicest, softest powder and blush brush I’ve used.  A perfect addition to my brush collection.

2.          # 182 Buffer AKA “Kabuki” Brush.   I wasn’t so sure about this when I first bought it for use with my mineral foundation, but I do get a lot of use out of it and appreciate the big phoofy dense dome-shaped bristles with it’s short handle.  I tend to pop it into my small make up bag along with the mineral foundation compact for touch-ups throughout the day or night.  It would be completely, absolutely perfect if it came with it’s own cap or in a push up / retractable design – are you listening MAC?

3.          # 187 Duo Fibre AKA “Skunk” Brush.  Ahhh, now *this* is the ultimate brush.  It just about does everything.  It can be used to apply everything from dry pressed or loose powders, to cheek colour / highlight / bronzer, even creamy products like fluid foundations which it buffs to a silky smooth finish.  It is a very soft brush with both natural and synthetic bristles of different lengths, I guess that’s why it’s so versatile.

4.          # 194 Concealer Brush.  I like this brush as it is small enough to make it into the tricky inner corners of the eyes and nostrils, and soft enough to blend product flawlessly.  Many other brands’ concealer brushes just don’t cut it, they’re way too firm and thus are harsh and pull at the tender eye area.  I do sometimes prefer a fluffy tapered eye shadow brush for a softer look and more coverage on the larger areas [chin and forehead, cheeks].

5.          # 217 Blending Brush.  A great brush for blending eye shadow generally over the lid and up to the brow bone, and because of it’s oval shape it’s also good for the crease and outer V.  Depending on application technique it can be used to pat on highlight shades or deepen intense colour.

6.          # 219 Eye Pencil Brush.  This is a nice brush for lining or applying darker colours in the crease and outer V for blending.

7.          # 239 Eye Shading Brush.  One of THE favourite brushes of MAC artists and fans for application and shading of eye shadow, it’s a small flat rounded brush that makes a perfect “trio” with #’s 217 and 219.

8.          # 252 Large Eye Shader Brush.  A useful brush for wide sweeps of colour app – have also used it for dotting cream colour or highlighter onto cheeks then shade / buff with Skunk or Powder Brush

9.          # 266 Small Angle AKA Brow Brush.  I think this was the first MAC brush I bought; actually one of my first MAC purchases EVER, in Brown Thomas in Dublin, 1999.  I use it with eye shadows such as Coquette for darkening my brows, resulting in a natural brow look.  You can intensify shade if you like for extra drama, give a higher arch shape and so on.  It also works as an eye liner brush, with either shadow applied with a dampened brush, or eye liner gel such as MAC’s Fluidline.

10.      # 318 Retractable Lip Brush.  This is such a lovely lip brush and the retractable design is lovely.  It’s so handy for tossing into my small make up purse in my handbag.  A neat trick is to load brush with colour and pop into your tiny evening purse for touch-ups, so there’s no need to carry lipstick too.

Tweezers:  RUBIS Perforated Stainless Steel Slant Tweezers

These tweezers are sleek, ergonomic, beautifully made [Swiss of course] with a groovy design.  They are just as  great for mega pluck-fests as precision search and destroy missions, as the slant ends grab the hair and will not let go.  They’re like the Terminator of the tweezers world.  I much prefer my RUBIS to the cult Tweezerman, but so long as you buy good quality tweezers [ie, the more expensive, unfortunately] you can’t go wrong – accurate, relative painless and last forever.

Eyelash Curler:  Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler

Somehow I had reached the age of 38 without an eyelash curler … horrors!  I rectified the situation sometime last year with the Kevyn Aucoin Curler, and I’ve become a frequent user.  It is so easy to use, has nice soft [replaceable] rubber pads and a curve that’s just right for my eye shape.  Many eyelash curlers are too flat for an individual’s eye shape, causing pinching and a poor result, so shop around.  The Shu Uemura and Utowa Eyelash Curlers are cult products for good reason; Tweezerman make good ones too, but I reckon the Kevyn Aucoin version is way up there.

As mentioned previously, even though I have naturally long curly eyelashes, since using my KA Eyelash Curler coupled with my favourite Max Factor Masterpiece MAX Mascara, I’ve been accused of wearing falsies on a number of occasions!  Which despite my misgivings and tardiness to the eyelash curler party, proves exactly how effective the eyelash curler – and the mascara – really are.

Storage; Make Up Bags Etc

While my “stash” is pretty small compared to lots of make up junkies out there [the photos of many beauty bloggers’ storage facilities have left me speechless] it’s still important to have adequate, well organised storage containers.  It’s much easier then to see what you’ve got; to find that particular green eye shadow when you’re in a hurry; and to keep track of what products might be approaching their use by [or abuse by] date.

I have a clear plastic two-drawer set from Kmart, about 20 cm high and 30 cm long, which I arrange my make up in.  Eye liners, shadows, mascaras go in the top drawer, with face and lip products in the bottom drawer.  The drawers are easy to pull out and being clear I can see what’s what.  It fits neatly in the bathroom cupboard and is  just the right size for my stash with enough space that products can be laid out flat with little overlapping.

For my brushes and other tools, I just use a large clear heavy duty plastic cosmetic bag.  It keeps all the brushes together and I can lay my hands on whatever I want, whenever, without having to rummage for smaller items like tweezers and retractable lip brushes.  I really, really, really want a professional brush roll as I’d prefer to keep my brushes flat and compartmentalised . . . Oh I’ll get that MAC Classic Brush Roll one day.

In addition I have a couple of make up bags;  a small colourful pencil-case sized job that goes into my handbag / daypack [it is a pencil case actually – I got it from Borders anyway], and a larger weekender cosmetic case for travelling, that takes most of my stash.  It is made of wipe-able fabric, zips right around so that it opens out, and has two separate zippered compartments as well as a plastic zip lock section for make up brushes. 

I’d love a professional beauty train case one day; hard-sided, multi-compartmental with fold out trays – it’d be loads better for storing and travelling with make up that can smash and spill. Maybe when I get my brush roll?   Then again the MAC Train Case is about AUD 500.00 so . . . maybe not.  Maybe a fishing tackle box from Bunnings would do the job just as well albeit without the design flair.

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