Monday, January 23, 2012

Mascara and shelf life

Most should know this by now but not everyone does: the shelf life of a tube of mascara once you open it is 3 months. That's it! And that's whether you use it every day or just once in a blue moon!

How come?
My B.Sc. is actually in microbiology so I know the details and will spare you those but suffice it to say that microorganisms grow in your mascara real easily. It's just a great environment for them. If you've ever put on your eye makeup and you had a tingling or burning sensation, there's a high likelihood that your mascara was past its prime.

So please, oh please, for the love of your eyes, don't use it past 3 months! And, no, the whole putting it in the fridge method won't help much.

I have 3 tricks to remember when to throw your mascara out:
  • I try to start using a new tube at the start of a quarter. My day job works in quarters so it's easier for me to remember. Or you could go for the last month in a quarter. Whatever mental note works for you.
  • You can make a note to yourself on the calendar. Make sure that it's prominent enough that you won't miss it.
  • Or you could put a sticker on your mascara tube with the date when to change (or the date when you opened it).

With that said, you want to carefully consider your investment in mascara.

Definitely, if you're one of those persons who only use mascara for special occasions or performances, you'll want to minimize your investment. You can purchase one of those pharmacy brands mascara. I really like the ones by Maybelline, personally. You can also find (in some places like Sephora) travel size or sample size mascaras. It minimizes your investment and you can still get good quality. The problem with sample size mascaras, though, is that the brush will be much smaller and may not give you the best application as the regular size would.

Another option is that you could simply put on false lashes... that would work well if your natural lash color isn't too pale. Mine are super pale so they'd totally show against the false lashes. But if yours are a dark enough brown, you could get away with not having any mascara but wearing false lashes because they would blend in well enough... at least well enough for stage.

I personally use a lot of mascara so purchasing a big tube is totally fine for me. By the end of the 3 months, I actually need a new tube because I'm getting to the bottom anyway. My current favorite mascara is called "They're Real" by Benefit. I've also loved the Mascara X by MAC for many years but they have stopped making it (at least for a while).

So when it comes to purchasing a mascara, it's really about trial and error and finding what YOU like. You'll need to find the best combination of brush and formulation that you like. Every year, Sephora has a sampler of mascaras that they put together right around the Holidays. That's one way that you can figure out which mascara you like best. But, again, sampler size means a smaller brush so it's not a perfect representation of the actual full size product.

The cool thing, though, is that, since you need a new mascara every 3 months anyway, that means that you can try at least 4 mascaras each year. ;)

One note on travel by plane: I have a belly dance student who used to work for MAC and she was telling me that, when you're flying, you don't want to take your good tube of mascara with you because "something" happens in the travel where it makes the mascara formulation go weird. And "weird" will vary on the exact mascara. I traveled enough by plane last year to have tested this multiple times. Before she told me this, I thought that it was just because my mascara was approaching the end of its shelf life (which it often would) but, no, she's right! Travel by plane will indeed mess up your mascara. So that's another time when you will want a cheaper mascara or a sample size one. And, hey, that means another time when you can try a new mascara. ;)

If you take only one thing from this blog post, at least make it this: THROW THE MASCARA AFTER 3 MONTHS!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


One of the reasons why I'm somewhat snobbish about pharmacy makeup vs. other makeup is because of their payload. So back to the post last week when I was talking about finding new brands, to me, one of the big criteria to love a brand is the makeup payload.

What does "payload" mean? That's the intensity of the makeup after 1 application. And by 1 application, I mean 1 brush stroke in this case.

My big pet peeve with most pharmacy makeup is that, when you apply it, you need a ton of it to get an intense color. So they have a small payload. There are several problems with small payload makeup:
  • You need to pack it on... so you end up looking cakey... and it may crack.
  • The more brush strokes you need to do to pack the makeup, the higher the likelihood that you'll mess up.
  • It just doesn't stay as well and can actually wash down your face easily.
For all that some brands can be pricey, if you don't need to use as much makeup to get the results you want so the extra money is totally worth it for me. And, as I said, the fact that you may risk messing up the application is something that I'm willing to splurge to not have happen.

Note, though, that there are inexpensive brands that have good payloads for their money.
  • NYX products have a very decent payload and are totally inexpensive. I love that they have a lot of little palettes with 3 colors. You can totally throw that in a bag for a weekend and have a few makeup scheme options. Those trio palettes run at about 8$ and the size of the colors is very reasonable. You can find NYX products at hair places (where you buy hair pieces) sometimes, definitely at Ulta, and online
  • I also discovered last year that L'Oreal's HIP line has a good payload. It runs at about 7-8$ and you can find sales every now and then. You can find it at any pharmacy and Ulta.
  • The "120 eyeshadow palettes" are inexpensive and have an okay payload. It's barely better than pharmacy brand products but their distinct advantage is having all those different shades to play with. So I like to use it for those makeups that I don't do frequently. If I notice that a makeup scheme becomes a favorite, then I'll purchase those colors in a bigger size. (To find these palettes, do a search on eBay... with shipping and all, it comes back to around 20$.)
There are other brands, I'm sure, that are inexpensive and have that sought after payload but the brands above are some that I've worked with so I know firsthand how they fare.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Glitter and eyes

Since I talked about glitter in my previous post, I thought that I should post a quick little something about glitter and eyes. Namely, it's a warning that not all glitter should go around your eye area! It's a little known fact but you should always check. Nearly all glitter will have a mention of whether it's appropriate to use around the eyes or not. If it doesn't have that designation, proceed at risk?

Why should you care if it's appropriate for around the eye?
Well, those that are appropriate for your eyes will have smoother edges than those that aren't. We don't think about it but glitter is really little specks so the edges are REALLY important. If they are not smooth enough, they can totally irritate your eyelids or, worse yet, get in your eyes and irritate your eyes. So be extremely careful with that.

I saw a makeup tutorial recently where they were using a certain glitter and, once I looked it up, it specifically said on the website "Not to be used in the eye area." So be careful even when watching makeup tutorial: they may not have checked. It's quite possible that this lady never had any problem applying this glitter on her eyelids but, if you have sensitive eyes, it would be a bad idea.

So what do you with that other glitter if it doesn't go on your eyelids?
Well, it can go on your skin, on your face (but not in the eye area), you can apply it on your lips, or even dust it over your nail polish as it's drying. Lots of applications still.

Oh and never EVER use glitter from the crafts section on yourself. Not even your body. Those will scratch your skin in no time flat. They are not for cosmetic purposes.

So enjoy your glitter responsibly, m'kay?

Choosing new brand of makeup

There are tons of makeup brands out there. Some are very well known, while others aren't. What to make of it all?

Known brand name
Generally speaking, if the brand name is known (MAC, L'Oreal, Revlon, Urban Decay, Stila, Make Up For Ever, and I could go on and on), it can be a sign that you can just go ahead and purchase. Pretty much anything that you'll find at Ulta or Sephora will be brands that you can count on being good brands.

That being said, it's not completely fail safe either. Near 15 years ago, I developed an allergy to L'Oreal products to a point where I couldn't wear my contacts, let alone any makeup, for like a week. My eyes were extremely puffy. I had been using L'Oreal products for years without any problem and this suddenly developed. I'm not saying that L'Oreal makes bad products but just that, even when you've been using a product for years and it's well reputed doesn't mean that it's fail safe.

Little known brand names
There are a ton of those out there. What prompted me to write this blog post is that I was looking for glitter yesterday and found a new brand that I had never heard about: Medusa's Makeup. (I'll post a review once I receive the products.) So what do you then? Well, unless you have super easy going skin and eyes, you want to look into product reviews before purchasing. It's as simple as doing a Google search for the brand name and review (so, in this example, I typed in "medusa's makeup review"). You'll generally find blogs and youtube videos telling you what they think about the brand. They will often have swatches too that you can see about what they received so it gives you an idea of the pigmentation level, which can come in handy. So ready about what people say about it and make up your own mind as to whether you want to invest or not.

Pricey does not mean better
Just a word on price: it's not because you pay a ton for something that it will automatically be better. Nor is it a contest of the cheapest makeup. Each vendor prices as they see fit so don't let price influence your decision when making a purchase. If it's dirt cheap, though, you need to be cautious as it may be cheaper quality products. But like NYX products are super cheap but they work very well, I gotta tell you.

It's really a crap shoot
In case you haven't figured that out from this blog yet, there's really no easy way to figure out whether a product will work for you or not. For all that folks can rave about something, it may not work for you. So, as such, you may not want to invest a boat load of money in one brand only to discover that it doesn't work for you. I have been using a ton of different brands, including some cheaper ones (in terms of price) and, since the L'Oreal incident, I've never found anything else that has created an allergic reaction for me and I have very sensitive skin and eyes.

If ever you do find products that don't work, do take the time to look into what the ingredients are: you may eventually find a trend where products that contain XX component make your eyes react.

Still, I strongly believe that doing your due diligence and reading the reviews online about products will help you gain a better idea of what you would be getting.


Welcome to this new blog! This morning, as I was thinking of what will be the first topic (see other entry), I thought that it would make a great blog topic. Now, I didn't want to post it with my musings on dance (i.e., my other blog... see this link if you are not already familiar with it: because it was a totally different topic, of course. So I thought about creating a new blog space, one devoted to makeup.

I thought about whether this would interfere with my makeup workshops that I teach and, well, quite frankly, there is so much information that I need to impart on my workshop participants that I always run out of time to cover everything. So this blog will actually serve as a way for me to share that information with a broader public and also so that we can focus on actually putting on makeup in my workshops.

Sometimes this blog will focus on stage makeup aspects but I'm pretty sure that the bulk of it will be actually applicable and usable for everyday makeup as well. I also intend to do makeup reviews as I discover new brands and new products.

And if there's a topic that you'd like for me to cover, please feel free to send me requests!