Ulta haul featuring Urban Decay & Flower Beauty

So I recently found myself in Ulta a few days ago as you do. I was primarily there for the Urban Decay Born to Run Palette. The last time I had gone looking for it at Ulta I was told it was sold out. This was quite soon after the palette launched, so I wasn’t surprised. My spirits were crushed, but I wasn’t surprised. No, I kid you. Like with any other Urban Decay palette launch, I usually wait a bit until the initial craze subsides so units can be restocked. Lo and behold this week my Ulta had several in stock. But of course while I’m there I couldn’t resist perusing the aisles to see if anything else jumped out at me. I was very restrained and grabbed just a few other items, so let’s get into it now.

URBAN DECAY BORN TO RUN EYESHADOW PALETTE – Shop here 

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Outer packaging
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Front of palette

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Wow, this one is really beautiful. From the packaging design, to the sturdiness of the component, to the varied color range, it’s a stunner. As you can see the majority of the shades lean warm, as almost every new palette does these days, but there are a few cooler tones in there towards the right side of the palette. I really appreciate that because you can get a variety of looks that shouldn’t end up looking all the same once applied to the eye. You get a whopping 21 shades, plus a full-size mirror, for $49.00.

I haven’t swatched or even touched all the colors yet, but I couldn’t resist trying a few of them out on my eye just yesterday. I used Weekender (matte) on my lid as a base and packed Smog on top (shimmer); then put a mixture of Still Shot & Riff (both mattes) in my crease and then I smudged Big Sky (shimmer) along my lower lash line. I loved the finished look. My first impression of the application: the mattes blended out very well. The shimmers need something slightly tacky to stick to, like a primer, otherwise they need more building up. I had to go in with my finger with Smog to really pack it on my lid.

I feel this one is begging for an in-depth review but I really need to experiment with all the shades and do some swatches. More TK.

URBAN DECAY 24/7 GLIDE ON EYE PENCIL IN ALKALINE – Shop here 

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You know of my deep love for 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils already, so I couldn’t resist adding another to my collection. I swatched a bunch in store and ultimately decided on Alkaline, a deep plum. Urban Decay describes it as ‘deep wine’ but you could also call it a berry as well. Supposedly this was part of the Naked Heat Collection along with the palette and Torch, another 24/7 Pencil (which I also have). Ulta has this listed as Limited Edition on their site, but I’m not so sure about that. If anyone has any info, pop it in the comments. Regardless, I’ve never had a liner in this color before so I was immediately drawn to it. It could be particularly lovely going into fall with all the plums, reds, and other rich colors associated with the season. I’m very eager to start using it.

FLOWER BEAUTY LASH WARRIOR MASCARA – Shop here 

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Like I needed another mascara in my life, but in my defense my Essence Volume Stylist Curl & Hold is getting towards the end of its lifespan so I wanted to have another new one on deck. I had seen some of the marketing on Flower’s IG about the Lash Warrior so when I passed by their kiosk I grabbed it. I love the dark, hunter-green packaging that fades into the gold on the lid. No doubt, this mascara makes some bold claims. From the outer packaging you can see that this promises everything from volume, to thickness, to length. I find it’s really difficult for one mascara to do everything perfectly, so I’m definitely intrigued to start testing those claims out. The brush has tiny plastic bristles that slope upwards from the base to the tip. Normally I don’t go for plastic bristles, but I’m always willing to be surprised!

Can I just say as an aside that I’m so happy the Flower Beauty is now carried in Ulta. The line has become a lot more accessible, which is awesome. I don’t have a Walmart around me, and I don’t do a whole lot of makeup shopping online so I never tried anything out until recently. I’ve also noticed that Drew Barrymore has made a greater push on social media recently so I think there’s a lot more buzz about the brand now than there ever was before.

Have you tried any of these products out yet? If so, what do you think? I’d love to know!

Xo, Erica

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Snatch or skip? L’Oreal mascaras

This post contains affiliate links (denoted with an asterisk), which means I earn a small commission if/when you click through to purchase. Regardless, these are my honest opinions. I do not recommend products I do not love or use myself.

Just this week I realized I hadn’t written a dedicated mascara post since I started my blog back in May, so let me remedy that right at this moment. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to spend much money to get a good mascara; you can absolutely get it done on a drugstore budget. There are so many great options available now when you walk into CVS, Walgreens, Walmart or any other lower-cost retailer.

However for every good or great mascara, you’ll find another not-so-great one right next to it. It’s all about sussing out what your mascara preferences are and letting them guide your purchases. For example, my mascara preferences include decent volume, length & a lot of darkness (i.e. how black the product is). I want a “false-lash effect” without false lashes, if that exists. What one person is looking for in a product, another person might avoid, so please keep in mind that lists like this are all subjective. If you love something I don’t, well that’s great cause variety is the spice of life!

This post will focus quite specifically on L’Oreal mascaras, as the title indicates. To keep this short and snappy (hopefully), I’ve narrowed this to only four products: two that I would recommend to snatch, and two that I would say to skip. So let’s get into it. (This might be the start of a little series here on the blog. I’m brainstorming other products and lists atm.)

WHAT TO SNATCH!

*L’Oréal Voluminous X Fiber Mascara with Black Primer

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Image Source: Walgreens

I spoke about my love for this back in my first blog post in May, but I picked this up pretty soon after it first launched. It was garnering good reviews on social media so when I saw the display in Ulta, I grabbed it. At first it seemed too high maintenance to me because of the whole 2-step process. The first end is a lash primer; the second end is a fiber-rich mascara. I never use lash primers normally. They just seem too fussy. But I have to say this formula really wowed me, so much so I was willing to go through both steps. The first end puts a light coating on the lashes and really separates and lengthens. The second end gives a ton of volume as it deposits the fibers over top. I didn’t find it too clumpy either. My tube got old so I had to toss it, but I would happily repurchase this.

*L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara

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Image source: L’Oreal Paris

This one is so, so, so good in my opinion. I’ve gone through about two tubes and I would definitely repurchase again. It gives me extremely black, separated lashes with tons of length. It makes me look like I have more lashes than I do. I think it all comes back to the wand. It’s a strange one but genius. It’s long and tapers towards the front, which you may think would be awkward to work with but actually it catches all those hard to reach corner lashes. It also has plastic bristles that only cover one side of the wand, which normally I hate but it somehow works here. I wouldn’t say it gives the best volume I’ve ever seen but the length and the fluffiness of the lashes after using this is just awesome.

WHAT TO SKIP!

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

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Image source: eBay

Wow, I know, controversial. It seems like everyone and their mothers and grandmothers go ga-ga for this formula, but I just can’t fully get behind it. I bought this early in its hype when every beauty influencer was saying this was the best drugstore mascara on the market. The brush is very reminiscent of Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara, which I very much enjoyed, so I was eager to try it. At first I remember liking it and even recommending it to my friends, but somewhere around the 1-month mark I just realized it was a mediocre mascara. It’s definitely not horrible by any means, but just nothing memorable to me. It was very black which I loved, but after a while I found the formula to be too thick to the point where my lashes would clump together too much for my liking. It didn’t give me much in the way of length either. It was just meh.

L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara

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Image Source: Look Fantastic

I have not tried the regular L’Oreal Telescopic in the light gold tube, but I was none too impressed by the Carbon Black version. I was hoping it might be similar to the IT Cosmetics Tightline 3-in-1 Black Primer/Eyeliner/Mascara that I loved from years back, but unfortunately it wasn’t. It’s primarily a lengthening mascara with a long wand and plastic bristles. It definitely lengthened but it didn’t separate my lashes like I would have hoped. In some places the formula made my lashes stick together so much that it looked like I had bald patches. Needless to say, I wouldn’t repurchase.

What are your favorite and/or non-favorite mascaras from L’Oreal? I’d love to know!

xo, Erica

Imitation or rip off? The case of Revolution Beauty

If you’re a makeup lover, you live for a great dupe. (If you’re a makeup newbie, ‘dupe’ is short for duplicate. When you apply that to makeup you’re talking about products that are either very similar or near identical both in color and texture.) It’s very challenging these days to have a truly original idea in makeup whether it comes to unique packaging, formulas, or color schemes. In a sense, we’ve seen a variation of everything before. And the drugstore has historically been a goldmine for dupes to many high-demand and expensive products. Take for example, the similarities between the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops and NYX’s Total Control Drop Foundation; both boast the ability to customize your foundation coverage with a thin, watery formula that’s delivered through a glass stopper. So if you had the option to buy a similar foundation for $14 (NYX) or $44 (Cover FX), chances are you’d go with the lower-priced item.

Many in the beauty community make the case that the drugstore or other lower-cost retailers help democratize the experience that higher-end makeup products provide. If you love the color and ornate packaging of a Tom Ford lipstick but don’t have the budget to buy one, L’Oreal or Maybelline can provide you with a similar experience if you buy one of their lipsticks. I personally see nothing wrong with this way of thinking, nor do I see a problem with L’Oreal or Maybelline creating more affordable lipsticks that may by happenstance be similar to higher-end ones. But things get a little more contentious when you study what UK drugstore brand Revolution Beauty (formerly known as Makeup Revolution) has done throughout its past.

As someone who lives in the U.S., Revolution seemed to come bounding onto the beauty scene very suddenly a few years back. At first they occupied a small end-cap in Ulta, and now they take up nearly half an aisle; their popularity has exploded. They are generally well-received by social media influencers and consumers who praise their low price points and gobble up their seemingly endless makeup releases.  So where is the problem exactly? If you peruse Revolution’s site, amongst their vast offerings you’ll find several products that go well beyond the imitation or ‘duplication’ of well-known higher-priced items; these products could easily be considered rip off’s of said higher-priced items.

In 2017, Twitter shouted Revolution out for copying the iconic rose-gold, fluted packaging associated with the Charlotte Tilbury brand for their Renaissance Lipsticks Luxe launch. Quite famously in the same year, Kat Von D tried publicly shaming them via Instagram for blatantly copying her best-selling Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette. While the packaging on the Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light and Shade is different and much cheaper than the Shade & Light, everything else from the color selection to the sequencing of colors are nearly identical between the palettes (I’m sure the formula isn’t identical though). Revolution’s response was matter-of-fact and unapologetic: they are in the business of making dupes so that makeup can be accessible to all.

It doesn’t stop there. Revolution has essentially copied other popular products from Too Faced, Ben Nye, Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty as well.  Here are just a few visuals for comparison.

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Original Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Ulta)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Mecca AUS)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Salted Caramel Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette from Kat Von D Beauty – $48.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Revolution version: Ultra Eye Contour Light & Shade – $15.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Original KKW Beauty Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $48.00 (Source: Pinterest)
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Revolution version: Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $20.00 (Source: Revolution Beauty)

 

From comparing the packaging and the overall execution of the Revolution products in all the cases above, you can see that they’re similar enough to be identified as a lower-priced ‘dupe’ for those very popular higher-priced makeup items, but also different enough not to put themselves under the threat of copyright infringement. Revolution has figured out a way to successfully skirt this fine line so they can quickly capture the popularity of other makeup brands. Customers don’t have to wait for makeup artists or social media influencers to tell them that these Revolution products are ‘dupes’ for luxury items; they can make that association much quicker for themselves if the packaging and layout look similar enough or nearly identical.

I haven’t tried any of the Revolution products pictured above. I know most people talk about their great quality, but I would rather put my money towards other drugstore items or even other Revolution items that didn’t so blatantly appropriate others’ successes. I don’t hate Revolution Beauty. I happily use their Conceal and Define Concealer regularly, which everyone says is a dupe for Shape Tape but I don’t personally agree on that. I just find some of their business practices troublesome.

I do think makeup should be accessible to all incomes. I do think drugstore brands should be able to recreate luxurious experiences at more affordable costs. But that doesn’t mean drugstore brands can’t be innovative, and it doesn’t mean drugstore brands should take what Too Faced, Kat Von D, or KKW Beauty is producing, change the packaging ever so slightly, and call it their own.

I really would love to hear your opinion on Revolution Beauty. Do you think what they do is wrong in these instances, or just another example of lower-cost duplication?

Xo, Erica

Mini drugstore haul featuring Wet n’ Wild & NYX

I was in a Harmon’s Discount over the weekend stocking up on travel mini’s for my vacation and of course I had to peruse the makeup aisle while I was there. After all it would be unheard of if I didn’t. Harmon’s is always a great place to shop for affordable makeup; they have the best displays and they often get new makeup in ahead of CVS or Walgreens. They’ve recently expanded their roster of brands to include J.Cat Beauty (which seemed to come and go very quickly from Ulta), and Essence Cosmetics. And their nail polish offerings are second to none as well.

But onto what I actually bought this trip. I restrained myself and purchased just two items (pats herself on the back): the new and improved Comfort Zone Eyeshadow Palette from Wet n’ Wild, and the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in the shade Abu Dhabi.

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WET N’ WILD COMFORT ZONE PALETTE – Shop here

Historically I’ve loved the quality of Wet n’ Wild shadows. They recently reformulated all of their Color Icon Palettes and upgraded the packaging to the sleek design you see above. I had the older version of Comfort Zone years ago and enjoyed it back then so I’d been curious for a while to give the new version a try. When you look at the pantheon of drugstore makeup brands, you still really can’t beat the price of Wet n’ Wild products. Ten shadows for just $4.99? And they’re usually great quality. L’Oreal’s new Paradise Enchanted Scented Eyeshadow Palette offers 12 shades but for a much pricier $14.99. Just some perspective.

Now I really don’t remember shade for shade what is different or the same from the older Comfort Zone Palette to the new version since I don’t have the older one anymore. But a slew of YouTubers have done detailed comparison videos so if you’re interested in that kind of information head on over there. I can say that the pans are a lot smaller in this newer version, but I’m unsure of how that affects the amount of product.

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Swatches of the new Comfort Zone Palette from Wet n’ Wild.

You get 2 matte shadows labeled ‘TRANSITION’ on opposite ends of the palette with 8 shimmers in the middle. None of the colors have particular names. Personally I love the mix of warm and cool tones here; the greens with the bronzes, burgundys and the warmer transition shades. Putting a warm color in your crease next to a cool shade on the lid is just so beautiful to me. The shadows all swatched quite nicely with the exception of some of the really light shades that needed serious building up. All of the colors were extremely soft to the touch as well.

I did use 2 shades from this palette on my eyes yesterday. I applied the wine-colored matte transition shade (6th shade down in the swatches) all over my eyelid and into my crease, and the light champagne shimmery color (3rd shade down in the swatches) smudged underneath my lower lash line and into the inner corner of my eye. The matte shade needed some building up on the eye to reach full opacity and I experienced a bit of patchiness as I was applying it. So I had to go in with my finger to pat the color over the patchy areas, which worked perfectly. I’m curious to try this shade over another primer or over another matte shadow to see if it applies better; it could be an easy fix.

Another thing I noticed was the intense kick-back I got when I swirled my brush into the shadows. They are seriously powdery, so you definitely have to tap your brush a few times before applying to the eye. But they have great pigment and the shadows lasted throughout the day with hardly any fading and just the smallest bit of creasing. I need to try more colors though before I form my final opinion.

NYX SOFT MATTE LIP CREAM IN ABU DHABI – Shop here

I love this formula. It’s a liquid lipstick for those that don’t like liquid lipstick, in that they’re easy to apply, comfortable to wear and they don’t feel heavy or sticky on the lips. They have an almost mousse-like or whipped texture that you have to build up a bit to get the full effect. I wouldn’t call this the most opaque liquid lipstick out there, so you definitely trade a bit of opacity for comfort.

I bought the shade Stockholm last year and absolutely loved it, so when I was passing the NYX stand at Harmon’s I found my eyes scanning for more colors in this formula. I really only wear either nudes or medium pinks these days, so I settled on Abu Dhabi which is a beautiful browny-beige nude.

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Swatch of Abu Dhabi from NYX.
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Side by side swatch of Stockholm (left) and Abu Dhabi (right). Stockholm is much pinker/peachier while Abu Dhabi is much browner.

The longevity on these is definitely not the greatest; you will have to touch up throughout the day, but I personally don’t mind that. You will get that rim around the inner part of your lips as you eat and drink, so I’d imagine wearing a darker shade would be challenging with this formula. But if you wear a shade that is not a million miles away from your natural lip color, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The packaging is quite small and lightweight so these are absolutely perfect to throw in your handbag. Stockholm has been living in my bag for months, and now Abu Dhabi will join it.

Have you tried any of these products yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Have you hauled anything interesting from the drugstore recently? I’d love to know!

xo, Erica