Too Faced Cult Classics:Hangover Rx Primer and Better Than Sex Mascara

One of the biggest complaints about subscription services is that a lot of the makeup included comes from the lesser known brands. However, it’s been a good 5 years since the first subscription services launched and well known favorites have been finding their way into monthly boxes and bags. Ipsy has been partnering quite a bit with Too Faced, which has let me try two tried and true cult favorites: The Hangover Rx Primer and the Better than Sex Mascara.

Here are my thoughts.

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The Hangover Rx Primer is well loved amongst the most famous beauty gurus.

Like many online beauty enthusiasts I first heard about this makeup primer from Kathleen Lights. She sold us hard on why this primer was the best thing since sliced bread. Hearing from one of the queens for YouTube beauty space (and one of my personal favorites), I’ve had this on my radar as something to try. But since this is high end makeup, I’m always hesitant to invest in the full size based off of hype.

The Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Facial Primer (USD $32.00, full size for 1.35 oz), is described as a makeup primer “that’s infused with coconut water, a probiotic-based ingredient, and skin revivers which work together to boost skin’s radiance, promote elasticity, and help hydrate while locking down makeup for fresher, longer, and more flawless wear.” Reading between the lines, this is a hydrating primer that’s great for dry skin that needs the extra plumping.

While I’m all for plumping and firming primers, I have to be careful with hydrating primers. As someone with normal/combination skins, more emollient primers can leave my skin feeling too tacky and give me a look that’s too dewy for my taste. I’m all for a natural finish, but there’s dewy and then there’s just plain greasy.

Minus the small amount of fragrance, I’m a huge fan of the ingredients. We’ve got some real winners for keeping the skin hydrated, such as coconut water and olive oil extract. Do be careful and read the ingredients to make sure there’s not anything you’re allergic to. Because of the fragrance in there, those with very sensitive skin should also be cautious. It didn’t cause an adverse reaction on my skin, but always best to play it safe.

In the end, this primer was a wee bit too hydrating for my skin type. It ended up feeling and sitting on my skin more like a moisturizer than a makeup primer. While I didn’t get a bad tacky sensation, I need something that’s a bit more mattifying. In the end, I wasn’t a huge fan of how my makeup sat on my skin.

That’s not to say it’s a bad product. I can see how this could be wonderful for those with dry skin and fine lines. But if you have any oily spots, you may want to pass on this one. If you have dry/oily combination skin, you could probably use this in conjunction with a more matte primer on your oily zones, especially if your dry patches need that hydration boost.

Bottom Line: A true hydrating primer that those with dry skin will love, but are best avoided by those with normal to oily skin. Sensitive skin people need to double check the ingredients to make sure there are no irritants or allergens.

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But is it better than sex?

Practically every beauty guru and their mother swear by the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (USD $23.00, full size). After trying it out for a few months I can see why they praise it.

On the plus, this is one of the most beautiful volumizing mascaras I’ve ever used. It gives just enough clump without looking like a huge mess. And if you already have a generous amount of lashes like me, you’re going to look like you have a great set of falsies on.

As beautiful of a finish as it has, there is one big negative that I cannot get past. This flakes and smudges like nobody’s business, especially on the lower lash line. Because it’s a clumpier mascara the formula is a little drier. I didn’t have much of a flaking problem when the tube was freshly open, but as the weeks went on there was more and more.

I’d even give the flaking a pass if it weren’t for the smudging problem. I get that a lot of people will buy a separate lower lash line mascara, but if I’m going to be paying more that $20 for a mascara, I don’t see why I’d have to purchase yet another mascara. I want something that can get the job done at that price point.

Now, there is a waterproof version, but some reviews I’ve seen on this says that the smudging and flaking problem still persists.

Bottom Line: While I love the gorgeous voluminous finish, I cannot get over the smudge factor enough to invest in a full size tube. I’ll happily use up any free travel sizes I receive in the future, but I’ll make sure to pair them up with a mascara I know won’t smudge on the lower lash line.

I got to try both of these Too Faced samples through my Ipsy subscription, so if you’d like to try them out you can sign up here.

Ipsy Review: Smashbox X-Rated Mascara

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One of the latest mascaras from Smashbox.

I have a love/hate relationship with Smashbox mascaras. Most of the time, I love the way they make my lashes look. However, I also hate how their high end formulas always end up flaking on my lower lashes.

Not a cute look.

Still, every brand has mascaras that I love and hate, so I always hold out hope that one day Smashbox will put out something I can get behind. In all honesty, until recently, I had yet to find a high end mascara that didn’t give me this flaking problem. One of the major reasons I swear by CoverGirl Clump Crusher is because I know it won’t leave me with raccoon eyes courtesy of mascara flakes at the end of the day. Plus, its drugstore price is hard to beat.

So for me to get behind any mascara over $15, it’s gotta give me great performance and no flaking.

This past spring, Smashbox released the latest in their mascara lines: the X-Rated Mascara  (USD $22.00, full size). Ipsy subscribers got a deluxe sample in their May bags. The full size comes in a twisted tube that looks like an infinite X. Definitely some cool packaging.

The formula, aptly named X rated, is suppose to give you an “obscene” amount of volume. I like volumizing mascaras, but the more “extreme” ones aren’t my favorite since they tend to be clumpier than I like. (There’s a reason I like that CoverGirl mascara and it’s in the name.) But I can definitely appreciate why people like these clumpier formulas. They can translate to some really cool lash looks.

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The design of the wand is suppose to be key to this formula.

In its description, Smashbox focuses on how the wand gives you the perfect amount of product application that separates and lifts so you don’t need to dip the wand back in the tube multiple times. The result is suppose to be an extreme, voluminous look.

The wand is well made and is of the bristle variety. Personally, I prefer a rubber wand, but I’ve used mascaras in the past with bristles that I enjoyed. Bristles are more ideal for building volume, as it deposits more product on the lashes. This wand did, in fact, make application pretty easy. I had enough on the bristles to get one coat on each eye and it was able to apply on all of my lashes, including those closer to the inner corner.

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Pretty lashes, but where’s the extreme volume?

I was expecting a whole lot of clumpy volume with the claims being made. The results? As you can see, it’s a pretty lash effect, but I’m not really getting a ton of volume.

Naturally, I have pretty full and long lashes (thanks, genetics!). What you’re seeing here is basically my lash with a little more lift. It’s a pretty look, but much more on the natural side than what I was anticipating. Frankly, I fail to see what’s so extreme about the mascara.

I was going to keep using it, but on the first day of wear I already had signs of flaking, something this mascara claims it doesn’t do. I gave it a week of wear before I got annoyed with the flaking and decided to stop using it.

Bottom Line: Unfortunately, Smashbox’s X-Rated Mascara fails to live up to its name. You do get pretty, lifted lashes with just one coat. However, there isn’t enough drama in this volumizing mascara. On top of which, this formula still flaked and left me with raccoon eyes. For $22, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

If you’d like to subscribe to Ipsy, follow the link!

April 2016 Boxycharm Review #1: Blinc Black Lash Primer

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Nothing like a (sorta) comeback story.

My first experience with Blinc was literally irritating. The tube mascara that Boxycharm included in a previous box this year made my eyes itch and burn like never before. I’m not one to claim having sensitive eyes, even though I’m a contact lens wearer. I can even take some of the heavily fragranced mascaras from luxury brands (but really, why do they do this? No one needs perfume in makeup that’s coming that close to the eyeball.) But the tube mascara didn’t even last 15 minutes on my eyes before I had to wash off all my eye makeup.

Needless to say, I wasn’t enthused when Boxycharm announced they were including Blinc’s Black Lash Primer (USD $26.00, full size) in April’s box. Still, I like to give products a fair chance, even if the brands past products were a dud. Out the gate, what seemed promising was that this was NOT the same tube mascara formula. I have a feeling that an ingredient that causes the tubing effect is what irritated my eyes.

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Rubber wands are my favorite.

The wand was also promising. I prefer rubber wands to bristles, as they do a better job of separating my lashes. Since my lashes are already long and thick (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I go more for mascara that gives a wispy effect instead of clumping for volume.

The concept of a mascara primer can seem kind of gimmicky, and in the past I’ve found that most lash primers don’t do much in terms of amplifying the performance of my mascaras. The only one that I’ve seen do this is Benefit’s They’re Real! Tinted Lash Primer. It’s my absolute favorite, which I use every day both as a primer and a standalone product. So it’s what I measured Blinc’s primer against.

Per Blinc’s product description, it delivers a base of length and volume while coating the lashes in a black finishing. They also claim that the ingredient Pentapeptide-17 will help lashes grow longer and thicker over time. I can’t speak to that particular claim, but I definitely could test out the first claims.

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Not bad…but no Benefit primer.

Overall, the effect was…ok. The rubber was bristle did help to separate the lashes, like I prefer. But the formula of the primer itself was lack luster. It did add a black coloring, but I could see any difference in the thickness of the lash. It looked just like my normal lashes with a black coating. Not a bad look, by any means, but not what I was expecting from a primer.

What I like about Benefit’s version is that despite the fact that it’s dark brown, it still adds some noticeable volume, length, and drama to lashes, even if the look is more natural overall. This is why I can wear it as a stand alone mascara and feel like there’s a difference with my look. Blinc’s version didn’t really deliver.

Of course, I tried it with several of my favorite black mascaras to see if it gave them an added boost. Honestly, I didn’t really see a difference. My other mascaras performed the same as if I hadn’t used any sort of lash primer. Again, this is where Benefit wins out. Whenever I use it combined with another mascara (dark brown or black), I notice a huge difference in the performance of my mascaras.

On the plus side, Blinc’s formula didn’t make my mascaras clumpy or flaky (something a lot of other lash primers do). But it also didn’t give the added oomph promised.

Bottom Line: While I appreciate the great rubber wand and a formula that didn’t irritate my eyes, for the price point I wasn’t wowed by Blinc’s mascara. By itself, it didn’t make enough of a difference in the look of my lashes. As a primer, I couldn’t see a difference. My advice is if you’re in the market for a lash primer, go with Benefit instead. It’s a little cheaper and delivers great results.

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, follow the link!

January 2016 Boxycharm Review #1 & 2: Starlooks Luxe Longwear Liner Pen & Blinc Mascara Amplified

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Nothing worse than a bad pen liner.

The great thing about Boxycharm is that they send you full size items. The bad thing is that if something doesn’t work out, you have to throw away a full sized beauty product. Such was the case with not one, but two items in January’s box.

I really, really tried to make these two products work, but gave up after several tries. First, let’s start with the best of the worst.

I love a good eyeliner pen. It’s my favorite way to use liquid liner. A good pen is a great way to learn how to do cat eyes, wings, etc. Boxycharm sent us this Starlooks Luxe Longer Eye Liner Pen (USD $19.00). I haven’t heard of or tried anything from this brand, but I’m always down to explore brands outside of the main stream. Even though it’s a black eyeliner, I was excited to add another felt tip liner to my collection. $19.00 is mid-range for eyeliner prices, so I expect it to perform really well. My favorite felt tip liner is one I received in an Ipsy bag from Absolute New York, a drugstore brand that’s a fourth of the price.

The tip of the pen is a little thicker than I like for these types of liners. Still, I thought it would be good for filling in a wing. It’s actually a good build. It’s not so stiff that you can’t manipulate the tip, but it’s not so bendy that product gets all over the place. (There’s a sex joke in there somewhere.) The pen itself is your basic black plastic construction — there’s not anything too special about it (but then again, how fancy can you get with the packaging of eyeliner?). I’d say it’s well constructed.

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Eesh, that bleeding wasn’t a good premonition.

When I initially swatched it, I was a little concerned to see the liquid bleed out from outside the line I drew. I’ve had this problem before with liquid liners and have found that liners that do this tend to be harder to work with and more prone to smudging. Unfortunately, this was true for the Starlooks liner.

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Please excuse this terrible lining job. Also, my eyebrows that I clearly needed to tweeze.

I just had so much trouble with this formula! If you look at the picture, you’ll see all these ridges along the line. I just couldn’t get a smooth line! Every time I’d try, I’d end up with these ridges. It happened both with shadow and on a bare lid. I also tried different primers to see if that would help. Nope. It was ridiculously frustrating, especially when I could get a clean line in one sweep with my Absolute New York liner. On top of that, this liner would smudge throughout the day. If I’m going for liquid liner, it’s because I don’t want to deal with the smudging you can get from soft pencil liners.

Rating: 1/5. I really wish this had worked out. The construction of the pen itself was really promising, but unfortunately the formula just didn’t cut. This is just a bad product, or maybe I just got a dud. If they find a way to fix the formula, I would be very interested in trying it again.

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This monster…

Oh, mascara. I was complaining a few months back on how my subscription services were bombarding me with it. But since then it’s died down and I’m happy to try new mascaras again (even though I still have a huge stash of samples). When Boxycharm mentioned they were going to add this mascara to the box, I was intrigued. Blinc Mascara Amplified (USD $26.00) is a volumizing mascara that forms tiny tubes around your lashes. Really cool concept, as the tubes are suppose to form around your lashes, giving them more body. It’s also suppose to be less messy than removing traditional mascara, because you can just use a warm wash cloth to wipe down your eyes and the little tubes will come off.

I’ve seen this mascara at Sephora and had been wanting to try it, but the almost $30 price tag scared me away. (Especially since my CoverGirl Clump Crusher got the job done just fine.) Boy, am I glad I did not pay full retail for this.

You may be wondering why there isn’t a picture of me wearing this mascara. Well, it’s because my eyes did not love what I put on. It went on well and smoothly, much like a traditional mascara. However, about half an hour later, my eyes started feeling really dry. Then, they started tearing up and itching so badly I had to go and immediately remove it. For the record, the first time I tried this I wasn’t wearing any other eye makeup so the only culprit could be the mascara.

I have no clue what ingredient is in this, but my eyes said NO. I normally don’t have allergic reactions like this to eye makeup, so I’m discouraged by this.

Now, to its credit this mascara did come off easily in little tubes that weren’t messy. So it has that going for it.

As to its effectiveness, I can’t really speak for it. Before my eyes went crazy, it did look fairly nice, though it was nothing extraordinary. Just a nice mascara. But I can’t speak to longevity or anything else really because I had to remove it so quickly.

Rating: 1/5. I’m sorry, but any makeup product that gives me a bad reaction just isn’t worth it. It may work for others, but fair warning that this may give you itchy eyes. It really is too bad, because this is a mascara that comes off easily and without much mess.

If you’d like to try out Boxycharm (I swear, most products aren’t as bad as these), follow the link!