Brows maketh the face

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When I look back on my high school years, I think of all those hairs I tweezed out of my eyebrows that I’ll never see again. In my adolescent years (and very likely in your adolescent years, unless you are around 20) THIN & SHARP are the words that come to mind when we imagine the perfect brow. How far we have come in the past decade – over tweezing is out, patches be gone and the perfect brow is thick and neat. If I walk around my local shopping centre, I don’t think I see anybody under the age of 25 with thin brows. Of course, this isn’t always a good thing – like any trend, some people just take it TOO FAR.

Anastasia Beverly Hills can be credited with some of the biggest improvements in the brow game with her pencils and powders. If you want to improve your brow look, read on…

(Disclaimer: I haven’t talked about concealer or eyebrow brushes – consider this a beginners guide to eyebrows)

Pencil

perfect-brow-pencil

If you are new to getting your eyebrows on fleek, or want something low-fuss, this stuff is THE SH*T. Easy and quick to use, huge range of colours and completely natural finish. You can buy it direct from the Anastasia Beverly Hills site, or from Sephora Aus.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil
RRP: $26.00 (USD) / $42.00
Stockists: Anastasia Beverly Hills / Sephora 

Powder

smashbox-powder

Anybody who watches Cammy on Snapchat [she’s an eyebrow queen from LA / find her @blossombeautylo] knows that the secret to a completely natural brow is the ombre finish at the start of the brow. For a long time I only used powder, but I find the ABH pencil is quicker and more precise than this powder. If you have unruly brows, the wax in this set is useful. Unfortunately, I think this powder is either on it’s way out or just isn’t worthy of being in Australia. Keep your eyes peeled if you’re overseas.

Smashbox Brow Tech
RRP: $26.00 (USD)
Stockists: www.sephora.com

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It is completely annoying to read recommendations of products not available in Australia, so I’ll include a product that you most definitely can find locally. Benefit has really upped their brow range this year and although I’m satisfied with my current tools, I think they are worth checking out if you are keen to find a decent product at your local department store. Powder and wax combo that has 6 shades.

Benefit Brow Zings
RRP: $55.00
Stockist: Myer 

Gel

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If you were not naturally blessed with a lot of hair in your brow, but have a decent shape and want to thicken up your look, use a gel to add some fake hair. This will help even up any patches or thinness and will blend in effortlessly. If you fear any of these other products or think drawing it on is too much, this is the stuff for you.

Benefit 3D Browtones
RRP: $42.00
Stockist: Myer 

Cream

pomade

I admit this stuff is the scariest of the lot – the almighty pomade. It’s not a product I personally want to use, but the severe nature of the pomade just doesn’t suit me and nor do I have the patience for it. Keep in mind, I am olive skinned and have naturally dark brows (no $$$ spent on eyebrow tints for me), so I’ve found the pomade finish is just a bit too much for me. If you have some serious bald patches or are seriously faking it when it comes to your brows (i.e. you don’t have much hair there), this stuff is for you. You will need a stiff angled brush for this as well as a spare 10 or so minutes.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
RRP: $18.00 (USD) / $32.00
Stockists: Anastasia Beverly Hills / Sephora 

Waxing, Tweezing and in between

My final warning to you is about what to do to care for your brows. You can have all the pomades and powders that Anastasia can think of, but they are useless to you if the base is hopeless. Only tweeze stray hairs, don’t even think about touching those long hairs your face has been growing for God knows how long! Find a decent brow technician, and find what suits you – tweezing, waxing or threading. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to a walk-in salon that does not specialise in brows – you will be butchered, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll never see those hairs return. You may be slaying in all other aspects, but rubbish brows will be your downfall. Go to someone who will see you as an ongoing client – save your walk-in waxing for arms and legs.

Remember, BROWS MAKETH YOUR FACE.

And if irritation occurs, discontinue use… 

Beauty Burn: Sephora Australia 2015

So Sephora thinks it can move to Australia and be a success? Do the big wigs of Sephora (which is the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group) know anything about Australian beauty retail? Have they ever had any dealings with the sales assistants on Australian beauty counters???

Now, I don’t want to burn everyone with the same flame – I will say I’ve had some ordinary experiences at beauty counters – that’s to say, not amazing, but not awful either. One of my first MAC store experiences was when I visited MAC Chapel Street (Melbourne) back in 2007, and that actually was a lovely experience. I was doing some last-minute makeup prep for my brother’s wedding the following day, and the sales assistant gave me great advice for a few small items that would make a huge difference. MAC Select Cover-Up entered my life, and still remains to this day. I started my first make-your-own-quad eyeshadow collection (I got 2 shadows, and have yet to fill the quad with 2 more), and he gave me plenty of direction for an eye look to suit a bright red outfit (which isn’t the easiest thing to do). I’ve also had some decent service from the Sydney International Airport Duty-Free MAC counter, despite literally thousands of people browsing there on the way to their flight.

Unfortunately though, they are some of the only positive Australian beauty experiences I can conjure up in my memory. That’s a pretty sad report. I’m a regular shopper and browser, I often have money burning a hole in my pocket, and I’m a fairly non-confrontational personality type – I’ll burn you on Facebook or verbally to my friends, but that’s about it, I’m not going to shout and scream in store. So after over a decade of loving beauty and makeup, I think I can safely say that it’s not me, it’s you, Australian beauty counters. Why is getting a sample of a product you want me to commit over $50 to, like getting blood out of stone? Why do you insist on pursing your lips when I (or any other customer – I don’t think it’s personal) near your counter? Is your job not to sell and promote beauty products? Why do you think your company educates you on their products – do you think it’s only for your personal gain?

Today, I had a really aggravating experience at a Benefit counter. I had the day off work, and was really looking forward to checking out some new products; I’d even squirreled some money away, that was, lo and behold, burning away in my pocket. My sister-in-law joined me for some shopping, and as a fellow beauty enthusiast, I informed her of the #mascaraswap currently happening at Benefit counters. A friend had called me yesterday to tell me that she had swapped her $2.50 Essence mascara for a deluxe sample of a “They’re Real” mascara at Benefit. If they’re letting you swap your Essence mascara, then clearly there’s no judgement there. So off we went to Benefit, which was a concession within Myer.

Now, the sales assistant wasn’t getting any points for sales, but I’ll give her props for making me feel incredibly uncomfortable – she did raise the bar for snooty sales assistants. She was quite literally doing nothing when we entered (the concession is an entire section, similar to a MAC concession; not just a counter), and continued to do nothing while we browsed. But of course, she didn’t do nothing at a distance – she stood right next to us, while breathing over our shoulders. She offered no advice, no commentary; just silent judgement. I looked around for the #mascaraswap info, and there were probably close to 20 balloons promoting this offer. When we asked… OH, the offer ended yesterday. So, why are there 20 balloons still up? Hard day of nothing stopped you from deflating the balloons? Your Benefit boss came in and confiscated every single sample that remained yesterday at 5pm?

Although this experience was insulting, it’s not exactly an exception. I came home and discovered another customer had a very similar experience at the same counter (she burned the sales assistant on Facebook), except she was told the offer ended ages ago, and when she challenged her that the offer goes until May, she was told that lots of teenagers came in and swapped their mascaras, and the stock is now finished.

I think we all know this sales assistant just couldn’t be stuffed. But Sephora, take heed, this is the state of Australian retail. There are lots of retail staff that love what they do, are extremely helpful, and earn their keep and then some. But there are a huge percentage who are just like Miss. Benefit – forget the customer, and just enjoy their discount. I’ve experienced Sephora back in the day, when it was nothing special in the UK, I’ve experience Sephora in the US, Sephora in Europe, and Sephora in Dubai. Dubai’s retail is booming – they have a huge amount of migrants working their butts off, and reaping the rewards of a lifestyle in the UAE. The US experience is completely unmatched however. Samples are easy to get, advice is easy to get, product information is easy to get – they make it easy to spend your money. The question that remains a mystery to me is whether their staff get paid commissions – but whatever the US formula, it is working. It’s not enough that there are multiple brands in one store – beauty buffs don’t mind pounding the pavement to try new products. It’s not just that the prices seem reasonable – that’s just the way it seems relative to the Australian prices – but Sephora USA is not making its buck off Australian tourists. It’s competing against incredibly low drugstore prices, and somehow winning.

Sephora Australia, you interest me, but I’m not sold just yet. Let’s see what your sales formula is here, and how that materialises for customers.

sephora

Bad Gal…

A reader has requested that I review something that I don’t love, which is a challenge I accept. I had started planning and dreaming of all the blog entries about all the products I love, so to think of a product I do not currently care for involved some deep thought. Then my mind fell to the brand Benefit, and my limited exposure to it. As a rule, I can’t stand their packaging, and packaging is what draws me in for the purchase (as well as price and reviews, but initially packaging). Their mascara products however, are marketed quite well, and almost don’t fit with the rest of the brand’s image. So, I decided to give one of their mascaras a chance, specifically the “Bad Gal Lash” mascara.

One word: ordinary. What a nightmare adjective. I can’t even say I hated the product – at least that would give the product the dignity of some passion. But no, I didn’t hate it nor did I love it. I just found it extremely ordinary. It was another acquisition on my US trip, which meant I had limited time and opportunity to research the range of mascaras and make a well-informed choice. My travel partner, SAK, had previously used the “They’re Real” mascara, and she recommended avoiding that item altogether. So, I ended up with Bad Gal.

How disappointing. How very disappointing. What makes it an ordinary mascara is its lack of magic, there is nothing remarkable or worth mentioning about it. The only thing that makes me reach for it at all is the fact that I spent money on it, and it looks like it should do a better job – so I must be doing something wrong, and I need to try it again. But no… it is not my technique, it is not the weather, it is not the moon aligning with the sun impacting it’s ability to make my lashes look impressive. It just isn’t very special.

ImageThe brush looks so luscious, the formula looks so thick, but it is neither of those things. I was hoping for extreme volume and thickness, but it just doesn’t translate from the wand to my eyelashes in this way. I also get a lot of product falling and smudging from this during the day which is extremely unusual for me – I rarely get panda eyes during the day. For the cost of this mascara versus the end result, I just don’t think this will get me back to the Benefit counter.

All in all, I think there are a lot of better products on the market that are more affordable and generally do a better job. Of course, I guess this is what I get for steering away from a Priceline brand, but even I have my Priceline limits.

Would I buy it again? Never. 
Who would I recommend it to? Die-hard Benefit fans, or those just looking for a decent coat of colour and have the money to burn. 
Is it value for money? Definitely not – RRP is $38.00 – plenty of options when spending that amount. 
How can you get it? Benefit counters in Myer stores nationally.