Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil

I overlooked it for years, but the presence of groomed brows can really do a lot for a face. There are various methods by which you can achieve this – brow pencil, brow powder, tinted gel/mousse/pomade, brow tinting (dye), or if you’re extra-extreme you could go for the whole, “permanent makeup,” bit aka tattooed on awkwardness. If you want to keep things easy, pencils or powders are the way to go. I wanted to try a pencil without shelling out for an Anastasia Brow Wiz, so enter Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil (which has a similar idea, packaging-wise, as the Brow Wiz).

 Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil - Natural Taupe and Dark BrownMilani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil – Natural Taupe and Dark Brown
The messy cap? That’s why you don’t cap things without looking at them.

Surprisingly hard to get me hands on in my area (no one seems to carry it! I had to order it), I was excited when the products arrived. The stick has two ends – one end houses the product, and the other contains a spoolie brush, both are protected with a cap. The center of the stick is printed with the product name and color but it is printed in gold (the stick, as you can see, is a light brown or taupe color) and is difficult to read. Fortunately, closer to the spoolie end there is a band with the color printed on it. I purchased Dark Brown and Natural Taupe; my brows either neither color, but I planned to use them in concert with one another and blend them to get closer to my haircolor.

The Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil was a bit surprising to me. It is both wider in diameter than I anticipated and it is SOFTER than I anticipated. Softness isn’t usually a quality we think of as negative, but when it comes to a brow pencil, you want a stiff product so you can easily produce dozens (or however many) of feather-light strokes that help define your brows. With this pencil it is entirely to easy to slip and end up with an awkward, hard line because it is so soft.

They have the consistency of a liner pencil (it glides too much!) rather than what a brow pencil should have. That isn’t to say this is a bad product, but there is a learning curve associated with it – you have to hold the product at an angle and use short, flicking strokes to achieve the right look. If you went a little too far, don’t worry – you then blend it out/together with the attached spoolie. Since the Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil is so soft, blending isn’t a very big deal…you will want to clean the spoolie off every so often, though, just as you would any other brush.

Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil swatchesMilani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil swatches – light hand above, more pressure below
From Left: Natural Taupe, Dark Brown

In all, although the products serve their purpose, I am on the fence about repurchasing. I really like brow powders and feel that I can get a more precise look with powder and wax than I can a soft pencil like this. This product, however, is very purse/makeup-bag-friendly and for those with much darker brows than myself may not be bothered by softness (rather, the ease of getting too bold a line). Someone who has more time to spend on their makeup regularly might be more satisfied than I am but ease and efficiency are both things that come into play, especially when I’m talking about a product called, “EasyBrow.” I don’t hate it, and I’m not immensely disappointed – but I was definitely hoping for greater performance from this product. If you’d like to give it a shot, the Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil is available from retail drugstores and for around $5.

Ginger & Co Hand It To Me

Recently a new Ulta opened nearby (woo, accessibility)! I just took advantage of a promo on their site (and received it the day before), so my resolve was firm not to purchase any makeup. That, of course, does not mean, “not to purchase anything.”

Though I did purchase a few items, including some neat sunscreen, the item I was most excited about was the Hand it to Me Dreamy Hand cream which I thought was from Soap & Glory. I was looking for a hand lotion for my office and was going to get one from a different brand, but when I saw the seemingly Soap & Glory tube that suggested it is a mixture of mallow (what?), lemon balm (oh, I like that!), and rose (eh), I snatched it, sniffed it, deemed it mild and pleasant enough. Off I went.

It wasn’t until I used it, however, that I became horribly offended. The strong rose scent that I did not detect in the store upon initial whiff descended abruptly.
I like the smell of roses on roses. Not my hands. Really, I prefer them to be unscented if possible but wow.
Now, don’t get me wrong – it does not smell bad. If you like roses you will LOVE it! But it was strong, at first, and it surprised me. I looked at the bottle and found that it was not Soap & Glory but a player I hadn’t heard of, Ginger & Co.

Ginger & Co Hand it To Me - front               Ginger & Co Hand it To Me - back

Ginger & Co Hand it to Me Dreamy Handcream

Whaaaat? Shame on me for not paying attention, but doesn’t it just scream Soap & Glory? I’m not sure if they did it on purpose or if it was a coincidence, but Ginger & Co is just so darn similar. Even Musing Of a Muse thought so! Both lines hail from across the pond in England. To be perfectly honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if the creator was the same but wanted to keep lower-priced options available since Soap & Glory graduated to the wonderful world of Sephora exclusivity.

Anyway. Despite my initial distaste for the hand cream, it did feel quite nice – not greasy, not too silicone-y (it does contain it, like a good hand cream should, but some…overdo it), not thin. Formula-wise, for my needs it is just right. I slap it on during the day at work – it absorbs quickly, which makes me happy. My hands stay hydrated for hours – I have not yet had to reapply over the course of the workday–perfect!

About a half-hour to an hour after application, the you’ll notice the fragrance has changed. Any good scent evolves over the course of dry-down, and becomes unique as it works with your body chemistry. After that time the fragrance is still lightly floral, but not overwhelmingly rose. Just feminine, pretty…I can’t really identify the notes for you, though, because I am not a fragrance connoisseur.

At this time, I’m not sure if I will repurchase. It does perform very well, I’m just very particular about fragrance (if I weren’t, I’d rebuy in a heartbeat). If you like rose or are indifferent to strongly scented lotions, this is a great one to try. You can purchase Ginger & Co products at your friendly neighborhood Ulta, this hand cream specifically usually runs $7.99, should be eligible for most coupons, and currently qualifies for the B2G1 free promo.

Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner

Milani Eye Tech Extreme

When I heard Milani Eye Tech Extreme may be a reasonable dupe for Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner, I had to look into it. Glorious as the felt-tip liner from Stila is, it is about $20 for a full size at regular price, which makes me kind of sad. This product, however, is only about $7-8.

Featuring a fine felt tip, the Milani Easy Tech Extreme liquid liner is structured very similarly to the Stay all Day and should be able to product similar results. According to Milani’s Site:

Non-feathering, waterproof blackest black formula lasts all day without flaking our budging.

I tested it out to see how well it met that claim. Here are the pictures, taken and laid out similarly to the Stila test.

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Maybelline Shocking Coral

Is, simply put, a lie. I wanted a coral because I did not own one. Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids came out with one, the I-wish-it-was-aptly-named-Shocking Coral.

Really quick – according to Wikipedia, the following are various coral colors. The latter two are what most of us think of:


If we define it ourselves, most of us will say it is a light, orange-toned pink. Woo, sounds pretty! So I bought it a while ago to try because I am guilty of owning mostly MLBBs and reds.

Here’s the bottom. I’ve seen Shocking Coral as both 910 and 870; I got 870 – I’m not sure if there’s a difference, or if it is regional, or what have you:


Hmm. That doesn’t look too coral, but maybe it is just the sticker. Stickers have been known to mislead, after all, and that’s why we like swatches.

I’ll swatch it!

Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids Shocking Coral swatch

Granted, please note that this was taken indoors with flash – but this is absolutely, positively not a coral lipstick. It is more fuschia-y both in the tube, swatched, and on my lips than anything. It isn’t that the color itself is bad; it isn’t. But it is not coral. Maybe that is what is so shocking about it – it isn’t coral! This is what caused my to learn my lesson and to find swatches first unless I was in the fortuitous position of being an early adopter (and therefore provider of said swatches).

Otherwise, the formula is nice and I would recommend the Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids line (Electric Orange is fun) – but don’t get this one if you actually want a bright, vibrant coral because this is not it. You can find them anywhere that has Maybelline, including Amazon, for between $5-7.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I’ll only tell you that something is awesome if I have verified it myself!

Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask Kit & Review

I love when companies revive products that they killed years ago, and the Self Heating One Minute Mask from Biore is no exception. I used the original years and years ago and it disappeared from the market circa 2010. Recently relaunched as part of their Charcoal / Don’t Be Dirty line, the Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask looks like this:

The new variety contains four foil packets (though oddly spelled, “packette,”) for $7-8 and is available at drugstores, mass merchants, and Back in the day (at least circa 2007), it looked like this:

Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask - old retail

The mask came with eight single-use blister-packs and retailed for roughly $7 (a better value than today!). You were instructed to wash your face, leave it wet, open a blister pack and smear the contents onto your face. Once it made contact with the water, a chemical reaction would occur and warm your face. After a minute or so, it would turn blue to show you when to rinse.

I actually received a sampler kit of the Self Heating One Minute Mask courtesy of Biore’s Prove it Rewards program on Facebook. They had a temporary offering where you could redeem a ludicrously low amount of points to get it, so I jumped on it. A couple weeks later, this arrived:

Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask - kit packaging

Let’s crack ‘er open!

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Worth it? bareMinerals Original

In spite of my love of sleep, I always look tired whether I am or not. Being a quasi-professional 8-to-5 sort, I became concerned that this was giving a poor impression to my superiors based on being asked constantly if I was tired, if I was OK, etc (despite the fact that my performance had not suffered). Lacking any significant experience with makeup at that point, I needed help evening out and brightening up.

Last December-into-January-ish, having been inspired by a friend who took the plunge, I wanted to try BareMinerals by Bare Escentuals. I was attracted by its promise of quick, easy application, lack of potentially messy liquids that I didn’t know how to use properly, etc. Oh yes–and it claims to be just so good for your skin. “You can sleep in it,” their marketing frequently suggests. It doesn’t irritate even sensitive, acne-prone skin. It has SPF! This product calms your skin while delivering a beautiful, flawless, radiant finish.

I bit. Potholes in the ordering process aside (that is another discussion entirely), I received my kit which contained a few things but most importantly their Original foundation in Medium Beige (for reference, I am NC15-20ish when I am super pale. Or so I think) and the appropriate tools. Having watched their application video a few times, I was ready to tackle this. After having used it for a while – daily for a few months – here is my assessment:

The products work fine, they are easy to use especially for beginners. Their claims:

Quick application: Yep, it takes less than one minute to do my face with concealing. Nice!

Easy application: Absolutely; you really can’t mess this up. It would take more time and effort to do this poorly than to do it properly. You also do not need any crazy fancy tools or pro skills to use it and achieve a decent result. You can use their brushes or ones you already have.

Flawless, Radiant finish: Debatable. This is going to rely largely on technique and how much you build up your coverage. If you apply too little, you risk not applying enough to cover problem areas such as broken capillaries, etc. On the other hand, though, since this is a loose powder product, it is really easy to look caked-on and not cute if you do not approach with a VERY light hand. Also, “radiant,” in this case is a nice way of saying, “shiny.” If you are oily, go with the matte variety. (I am Combo w\ Oily T-zone and some days the Original can be a little more dewy than I like.) If you will be having serious-business photographs done, grab a different product; it will not look flawless or radiant in high-definition photography, especially since it contains SPF. Otherwise, it does a decent job for day-to-day wear and I was not dissatisfied.

Calms skin: I didn’t have anything to calm down, so this is my own speculation: this glorified dirt probably isn’t going to save the world. There are clay and mineral masks that can, but their compositions and applications differ substantially.

Non-irritant: This is not a hypo-allergenic product. Sensitive-skin users should proceed with caution, as both the Bismuth and cornstarch used in BareMinerals has a history of breaking otherwise-clear users out. This is not common, but it is something to be aware of, especially if you have a known allergies to either.

OK to sleep in: NO. Do not do this! Not even if they beg you. While it is possible (I lack the resources to verify, either way, for science) that it is better for your skin than a traditionally-concocted liquid product, it is still very important to wash it off before bed. It still can and will clog your pores or leave you with other issues (especially if you are prone to irritation) not to mention the fact that your pillowcase will be less-than-pristine. You should not sleep with any makeup on!

All in all, the claims behind BareMinerals are not so ridiculous that you shouldn’t bother. It is a quick, user-friendly solution for day-to-day makeup if that’s what you’re into. I still use it and am happy when I do. But it is neither a miracle product nor is it an acne or troubled skin-remedy. As always, it is important to have realistic expectations. Proceed with caution if you have certain allergies, or if you have sensitive, stubborn skin. Do some homework and try to establish a good skincare routine for your needs – the highest quality makeup in the world can only get you so far.

Have you tried BareMinerals Original or Matte foundations? What was your experience? Share in the comments!