I don’t have an amazing track record with mascara-testing. Firstly, I am massively picky when it comes to what I put on my lashes, which means that I hate most mascaras and quickly become disgruntled when I have to test a whole run of them. (I like my mascaras to be just tacky enough to give volume but not require a blowtorch and chisel to remove, I like the brush to be precise enough not to spread product all over my eyelids but big enough to create lift and length. The list continues but I wouldn’t want you to fall asleep.)
So as I said, I’m picky, which means that I relegate most test samples to the sin bin after a couple of uses, but I’m also sensitive around the eye area which means that I can only test one or two a day before my eyes start streaming and the skin gets red and raw. It’s a slow and arduous process, then, and one that I’ll only drum up the enthusiasm for once in a blue moon.
Fortunately for you (if you’re interested in mascaras!) it’s that blue moon kind of time and I’ve been putting up with eyes that look as though they’ve been weeping battery fluid just so that I can bring you the best of the new luxury mascara launches.
The idea was to rate all of these with scores out of ten for various things like longevity, ease of application, depth of colour, but let’s be frank: they’re all black, none of them come off easily and the wand size and flexibility (hoho) is all about personal preference, so vaguely irrelevant.
But if you have flattish, fine and fair lashes like mine and tend to coat your eyelid in product when applying then you’re in a similar beauty boat to me and you’ll hopefully love these new launches as much as I do.
Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mascara, £12/£23 at SpaceNK here*. Best for flat, drab lashes that refuse to go upwards, this really does push up by depositing a load of mascara at the base of the lash before sweeping the volume through to the ends. I find this one the messiest, so be warned on that front if you tend to need an hour to clean up after you’ve put on your mascara! Out of the four this is the one that gives me a tiny but of dropping and flaking towards the end of a long wear, but it’s nothing massively noticeable.
Dior Iconic Overcurl Mascara, £28 at Selfridges here*. I think that this is my favourite of the lot. I’m not sure it beats Dior’s Pump ‘n’ Volume, which is one of the greatest mascaras of all time, but it’s up there. Pump ‘n’ Volume (find it at FeelUnique here*) is like the Batman of mascaras, with its rubbery suit packaging and its ability to coat each and every lash with about a kilo of product without any clumping; the Iconic Overcurl is just ever so slightly more refined. I need to do a side-by-side comparison on these don’t I?
Marc Jacobs At Lash’d Mascara, £25 at Harvey Nichols here*. I’d say that this mascara is perfect for the smaller-lash’d amongst us as the brush is ever-so-slightly more petite. I get the least amount of lid-painting carnage with this one but I still get great volume and brilliant lash separation. For those who can’t abide the formation of those lash-fans that you get when all of your lashes start off nicely separated but then five or six of them join together at the ends to form a super-clump, this is important. Because when you get a lash-fan it follows that you then have to find something sharp and pointy to separate them out again, which inevitably is the pin from one of those freebie hotel sewing kits, and then it’s so fine you can’t actually see it, because you’re long-sighted and anything within a foot of your face is invisible, and then you pierce your own eyeball and it’s all game over and who needs mascara anyway when you have to permanently wear an eye patch.
NARS Climax Extreme Mascara, £22 at SpaceNK here*. Annoying name, because honestly, I’m not a prude, but I don’t want everything to be about sex. What has mascara got to do with sex? Unless you like to groom your private areas with your mascara (brings a new meaning to the term “bottom lashes”), but that would be weird. Anyway, this is a very good mascara with huge volume and a sort of matte, rubbery finish on the lashes rather than a shiny one. You could get away with one coat of this (and the Dior Iconic, come to think of it) but as with most mascaras this really comes into its own on the second.
Watch the video to see all of these mascaras in action – I’m going to do the same thing for some high street launches too, when I get a second and my eyes have recovered. Honestly it’s as though someone’s brillo-padded the skin off my undereyes.
Do any of you have any huge objections if I widen the scope of my monthly favourites round-ups to include stuff other than beauty? I feel it would inject some new and welcome joie de vivre into what is an old – yet surprisingly still very popular – format.
The only problem might be (spoiler alert!) is that some of the items, if I’m let loose completely from my self-imposed constraints, might be a bit random. For example this month, had I been given free rein, I would most probably have included a faux-antique rug in my favourites as well as a vintage BelgoChrom table I picked up (not literally) from Belgium for an absolute steal.
I don’t mean to imply that all of the favourites would be interiors-related – I’ve also had a great love-affair with a new Amazon Prime TV series this month – I’m just throwing some examples out there. So what do you think? Death to the (exclusively) beauty favourites? Bring in a new era? Or are you change-averse?
(If you are incredibly change-averse then I do genuinely feel for you. 2020 is most certainly not your year.)
Let me know in the comments, please – I do love a spot of market research on here! But for now, on with the beauty favourites. I’ve mostly avoided skincare this month despite racking up a fair few new discoveries that were deserving of a big mention, and that’s because I’m judging the Marie Claire skincare awards. It would be slightly disingenuous to go shouting my mouth off about my favourites whilst others are still doing their solemn judging.
So two bodycare items, two makeup favourites and one thing that is skincare but not quite as you know it. Shall we start with that one? It’s called a ZitSticka and it’s a small patch infused with potent spot-fighting ingredients that you stick over an emerging or early-bird blemish. You know when you have that hard swelling beneath the skin and your heart sinks because you know it’ll take long and painful days to erupt into anything you can (illegally) squeeze?
That’s what these ZitStickas are aimed at. I actually did an ad for this product at the very start of the year, having used it over the Christmas zit period, but I’ve had a fairly spot-free spring and summer and so hadn’t needed them since. But boy did last month’s PMT week see a beauty of a boil! The perfect pustule to place a Sticka on and I was delighted to find that it worked just as well as at Christmas. From hard, red skin to…absolutely nothing.
The raised bump didn’t disappear completely overnight, I had to take the patch off in the morning and double-obliterate it with a second one, but after that it simply dispersed. No squeezing necessary, which was good as it’s a very bad thing to do with a hard and horrible spot like that.
And to bodycare, where a Mitchum deodorant stole the show. On closer inspection, a “man’s” deodorant but I’m not really sure what makes it manly. The smell is “Cedarwood” but I find it fresh and figgy, which is why it’s in the faves (a good deodorant smell is hard to find), the formula is creamy, aluminium-free and effective.
True fact: to test efficacy I always do a half-half trial, whether it’s foundation, SPF or an exfoliating body lotion. You need to keep one half of your test area free from the product being tested – in this case it was so that I could gauge that day’s sweatiness with one pit and the sweat-fighting prowess of the anti-perspirant with the other.
It did well. The depths of the underarm were fresh even after a brisk walk down the river on a hot day wearing inadvisable levels of cashmere.
You can find Mitchum’s Natural Power deodorants here at Boots*, they are £4.50.
A seasonal favourite now, in the shape of Weleda’s Pine Bath. I know I’ve mentioned this a fair bit over the years and usually it’s more of a winter staple, but I ran out of Epsom Salts the other day (shock horror! fear not, I have reordered) and bathing just wasn’t bathing without something added to the water.
The Weleda bath milks are excellent – lavender would be my warmer months option but nothing beats pine for a bit of a Christmassy run-up. Again, I know I’m early – I’m not wishing Christmas upon anyone for the moment, the last thing we all need is another bloody school holiday! – but if you’re craving those crisp nights and blustery russetty days, this will be your bag.
Weleda Pine Bath Milk is £14 here*.
My next favourite is actually a whole category and so I’m going to sort of mulch over it – if you want more of an in-depth explanation of it then watch the video below. It’s mascaras. All mascaras. I’ve had a sort of renewed falling-in-love of them and have been testing out loads. I am going to be back with a video of my favourite four new mascara launches in the next week or so, but if you can’t wait that long then know that these are currently “the ones”:
Marc Jacobs At Lash’d Mascara, £25 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mascara, £23 here*
Urban Decay Lash Freak Mascara, £21 here*
Dior Overcurl Mascara, £28 here*
All do things to my puny, barely-there lashes that would definitely win prizes, if there were prizes for lash transformations.
And finally another favourite that I’m not going to explain at length; it’s basically anything from Trinny London that counts as “makeup in pots”. In particular the cream eyeshadow in Truth and the cream blush in Electra. I’ve used both so regularly that it would be disingenuous for them not to make an appearance in the monthly hall of fame. You can read my full review of the eye2eye shadows here and the cream blush is online here*.
And there endeth the beauty sermon: it’s all on video right here if you want to see items up close and personal or find out about the makeup I’m wearing. Any extra details are written below the video pane. Enjoy – and let me know whether you’d like me to expand on my favourites categories!
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation in B30, £40 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49 here*
Pat McGrath Permagel Lipliner, £25 here*
Pat McGrath Lip Balm, £35 here*
Jumper is from Cocoa Cashmere here
Amazing abstract painting in background is by Holly Delaney