Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Drugstore Beauty Jackpot - Winter 2016

January and February are welcomed with arms wide open when they bring a flurry of new drugstore launches. New mascaras, contour kits, brow pencils, lip colours...so much newness it's hard to sift through and find the good stuff. I've been toying with new launches for a few months and want to highlight some real winners that are comparable to more pricey options that you'd find at Sephora and/or department stores. Off we go:

The original and recently reformulated Dior Diorshow mascara is not my cup of tea and seeing it on "Best Of Beauty" lists has made my blood boil time and time again over the years. I think Dior's New Look Mascara has been overshadowed by its big-brush counterparts since its inception, but it has always been my personal favourite (tied with Diorshow Iconic Overcurl) for best mascara offering from the brand. This new launch from Revlon's recently overhauled mascara range (1 of 5 new formulas!) looked dubious to me at first and instantly reminded me of Dior's New Look mascara. (Note: A smaller-scaled sample of Diorshow New Look mascara is pictured above, as my standard size tube has gone astray, but rest assured the wand size is the same for the full-scale version)

It's a fibre mascara formula, so contact wearers or sensitive-eyed readers, beware. These fibres are kind of massive; I initially thought a stray lash or two had wound up on my wand after I first tried it. The tiny wand might be difficult to wield at first if you're accustomed to massive mascara brushes, but you can reach each and every tiny lash with ease. If you're after a real eye-opening look, pick up a tube of Revlon All-In-One.

Hourglass launched a mechanical gel eyeliner a couple years back and it's probably fair to say it was largely eclipsed by all things Ambient that the brand has launched since, be it powder, blush, bronzer and now strobing powders *sighs deeply*. The formula was a sound option for anyone interested in matte black gel liner applied with the ease of a pencil format. Sold in packs of 3 or individually, the brand really seemed to be striving towards creating a product that people would never want to be without. Fast forward two years and Maybelline grabbed my attention when they launched gel pencils  this past summer, and now they really have me hooked with the release of these skinny gel pencils that are essentially the Define-A-Line liners done up with a gel formula that glides onto the waterline with mega ease and superfine tip. Below, both gel liners are swatched, Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Gel Pencil in "Defining Black" on the left, Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Liner on the right.

Both formulas apply effortlessly and are creamy when gliding onto the eye area. Ultimately, I do find both formulas are vaguely drying for my eyes with Hourglass being a worse offender, but I'm pretty sure any liner does that to my waterline if it's designed to be long-wearing, so c'est la vie. Maybelline certainly has a leg up here given its palatable price point and shade selection (Hourglass still is only offered in Obsidian).

While I feel pretty confident in my ability to find a suitable drugstore alternative in virtually all categories of makeup to any high-end product I'm really loving, brow products occasionally left me underwhelmed (at least, until recently). I often turned to a lot of different brow definers that were anything but cheap (including Burberry, Tom Ford, Dior, Smashbox), but certainly offered up impact and a suitable shade range. I think my favourite mechanical pencil to date would be a tie between Maybelline Define-A-Brow, which is virtually impossible to find in any shade other than "Medium Brown" these days, and Anastasia Brow Wiz. These two pencils are very similar in effect, the latter being easier to buy on a whim, but pricey as hell given how quickly one can burn through a single pencil. Enter L'Oréal Brow Stylist Definer, a mechanical brow pencil that has the same tiny pencil that allows you to draw in strokes of colour to resemble hairs and build up a natural brow shape. If you're a bit of a fusspot (and aren't we all at times?) when it comes to shade range, stick to Anastasia. If you're not, drop your money on L'Oréal, because it's less than half the price of Anastasia and is the same product, right down to the weight of the product (0.003 oz).

Sidebar: Liquid Matte Lip Colours
And now for a separate but notable trend: liquid lip colours. I'm not even going to really say that the new drugstore launches are matte, though these 3 formulas all claim to be when virtually none of them are in a true, traditional sense of the term. When I think of matte lip colours, I think of MAC's Retro Matte formula that lasts all bloody day but also makes your lips feel like the Sahara. These new formulas are leaning towards a plush velvet feel more than anything, maybe with a hint of shiny cushion that never sets to a fully matte finish. Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid comes in 10 shades (including a couple that are deeper/edgier/on-trend) with an extended doe foot applicator and notable vanilla-driven scent. The texture is comfortable and leaves lips with a satin finish. L'Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Gloss is also available in 10 shades with an indented teardrop-shaped applicator that gives excellent application control of the product. This is probably the glossiest finish of the bunch, hence the wildly ridiculous "Matte Gloss" moniker. There's a small but real chance your hair will get stuck in this one. Life! Finally, we have Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor, available in 8 shades and making me quietly wonder why "lipcolor" is one word in this product name.

Swatched (L to R): Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid in "Nude Flesh" & "Nude Thrill", L'Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Gloss in "Statement Nude", Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in "Addiction".

Truthfully, I love the rich purple-based berry shade Devotion in this range, and find it wears pretty well and can be dialled up or down depending on the look I'm going for. All of these liquid lip colours are excellent and I'd encourage all of you to check these out before scurrying off to Sephora for Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick (incredible shade range that is usually out of stock; debatable value given how uncomfortable some long-wearing lip colours can be) or any of the numerous liquid lipsticks dropping every day.


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