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.

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.

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.


April 2016 Boxycharm Review #1: Blinc Black Lash Primer

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.

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.

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!

February 2016 Ipsy Review #3: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil

Definitely an interesting concept.

There are a million different primers on the market, and there are just as many facial oils. So it was only a matter of time before someone said, “Hey, what if we combine the two?” Thus, Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil (USD $42.00, for 1 oz) was born.

This is definitely an interesting concept. An oil that will prime your face for makeup and nourish any dry areas. It makes sense on paper. If you’re suffering from dry skin that will flake and emphasize fine lines when wearing makeup, this could be your answer.

My skin has not been particularly dry lately. Spring has sprung, the weather has gotten rainier and more humid, and my winter dry patches are a thing of the past (till next winter…). Still, my skin on my cheeks can get a wee bit dry, so I decided to try it.

What I did was use this as my primer on my cheeks and then use my other primers on my t-zone. It’s prone to being oily and I don’t want to apply an oil for dry skin on it.

I’m not sure if this was the right way to use this product, because I didn’t really see any difference in makeup application. It was similar to what it looks like when I use a non-pore filling primer, but it didn’t really do anything to hold the makeup in place. In all honesty, I was a little disappointed.

However, I can’t lie about the oil feeling nice. My skin did enjoy that extra boost in nourishment, though when I stopped using it I didn’t miss it.

Seeing as it’s suppose to be a face oil, I took a look at the ingredients to see what they would do for my skin. On the plus, this does contain a lot of great oils that are awesome for parched skin (sweet almond, apricot, Argan, and rosehip). On the downside, this does contain lavender oil. While lavender oil may not be problematic for everyone, it can be very irritating even in small amounts. So if you have very sensitive skin, you’ll want to be on the lookout. Personally, I didn’t get any irritation, but don’t risk it if you know your skin is finicky about ingredients.

Another note, I do wish the oil came in an opaque bottle. Exposing ingredients to direct sunlight just makes them break down faster. And if you’re going to spend more than $40 on a face oil, it may as well be on one with packaging that will protect the product.

As for trying it again, I did see that Glam Life Guru mentioned this product in her monthly favorites. Apparently, what she likes to do is mix one drop in with her foundation for a smoother application. I’m going to try this and possibly do an update to see how it worked out.

Rating: 2/5. While it’s an interesting concept, Smashbox’s Primer Oil hasn’t worked for me, thus far. It did make my skin feel softer and makeup applied a little more smoothly, but I really fail to see how this is suppose to be a primer. On top of that, it contains a potential irritant and its packaging is less than ideal. For now, I think I’ll pass on this in favor of my current primers and my Jouer Daily Clarifying Treatment Oil.

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January 2016 Birchbox Review #6: IPKN Flash Cream Radiant Primer

Get ready to get your glow on.

If you’ve been following the spring makeup launches, then you may have noticed that almost every single brand has launched a radiant finish primer. This isn’t a coincidence. K-Beauty has been offering these types of primers for several years. And what Korea does, we copy several years later. K-Beauty is all about having luminous skin, which is why they’ve been so innovative over here.

The matte finish has been the way to go in the US until very recently, when highlighting, strobing, cushion foundations, and the “dewy” look became all the rage. Granted, there is still definitely a place for the matte finish in makeup, but you can’t deny that dewy is where it’s at.

Birchbox’s Korean Beauty box wouldn’t have been the same without including one of these radiant primers: the IPKN New York Flash Cream Radiant Primer (USD $28.00, full size). The price point puts it in the mid range. It’s way more expensive than drugstore products, but not quite as expensive as the luxury makeup brands. For almost $30.00, I expect great results.

You can see how strong the glowing finish is just from a swatch.

The ingredients seem fine over all, but I would note that there is some fragrance and citric extract. If you have very sensitive skin or know you don’t react well to these ingredients, then be careful before using. I didn’t have any negative reactions to the primer, but it’s still worth pointing out.

Also, keep in mind that this primer does have SPF in it, so if you don’t react well to SPF or if you’re going to be photographed with flash photography this won’t work for you.

The primer itself comes out of the tube looking white and shiny. It’s a little intimidating, but trust me when I say this blends out onto the skin very well. In order to give you a face visual, I’ve taken some pictures before and after using the primer without any foundation.


This side of my face doesn’t have any primer on. (Feel free to ignore my eyebrows, which clearly needed some tweezing.)
This side shows the primer after blending.

You can tell in the pictures that the side with the primer has a slight glow to the skin that the other side does not. You can also tell that the primer does not have a pore minimizing or blurring effect. This is by no means a pore refining primer. For that, you’ll want something that’s silicone based. This “perfects” your skin by making it appear more hydrated and luminous. They’re two different techniques that give different, but beautiful, finishes.

Personally, I was really happy with the finish of this primer. This was great for my winter skin, which tends to be a lot drier. In the winter, I’m combination normal/dry (normal t-zone, dry everywhere else). It helped especially on the cheek and under eye area, where I tend to be dry. However, I can absolutely say that I wouldn’t be able to use this primer in the summer, when my skin is normal/oil (oily t-zone, normal everywhere else). It would emphasize my t-zone, plus the oil I produce would break down the primer. If you have very oily skin, you don’t want to use a luminous finish primer as it’ll just emphasize the oil in your skin and enlarged pores.

It did perform really well and helped keep my makeup in place. I combined this with the L’Oreal Lumi Cushion (I’m the shade N4), which is my favorite drugstore cushion foundation, and got a really beautiful glowing (without looking oily) finish. I would still recommend using powder to help lock in the foundation.

I went through this primer really quickly and was sad when it was gone. But, I do have two possible dupes. Both area cheaper than IPKN, so they make work for you if you want a luminous primer without the $30 price tag.

The first is NYX’s Born to Glow Illuminating Primer (USD $13.99). I haven’t used this but have seen other bloggers and vloggers pointing it out as a dupe. They did comparisons and it does have a very similar finish to IPKN, though I’d point out that it’s not quite as strong of a luminous finish. It also has more of a “pore blurring” effect, because NYX does use silicone, and contains no SPF, making it more photograph friendly. Still, it was a very close dupe.

The second is actually my everyday primer, Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Primer (USD $13.99). It does contain silicone, though it’s not as heavy as pore blurring primers like Benefit’s Porefessional. I save those primers for special occasions. Neutrogena’s is very similar to IPKN (it also contains SPF), but it’s not quite as intense in its luminous finish. It’s like IPKN but taken down a notch. I don’t mind this, because I can always play up the luminosity with the right foundation or highlighter. Plus, it’s half the price.

So will I repurchase IPKN? I might, but not until the fall/winter when my skin begins to dry out. I don’t like blowing my money on primer, so I may just stick to Neutrogena. It’s a more luminous primer that I can use year-round.

Who should buy this? Probably people: 1) with normal/dry skin; 2) who want a very luminous look; 3) and are looking for an every-day primer that does not contain any silicone.

Rating: 5/5. Despite the high price point, this primer exceeded my expectations. It gave a beautiful, if intense, luminous finish to the skin and kept my makeup in place all day. Sensitive skin peeps should note the citric extract, fragrance, and SPF. Those with very oily skin will want to avoid this. However, this is a really nice welcome to the primers available in the US.

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