Review: Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara

I know I’m not the only one who is SUCH a sucker for new mascara.  I think the other artists here at Critical Makeup make it a hobby to buy new ones once a week! I don’t know what it is, but as soon as a new mascara hits the market, I MUST have it to try!  I have a feeling it has to do with the relatively low-ish price point ($7-$30) and the fact that I am always looking for a magical makeup miracle.

My lash situation: I am blessed with long lashes.  This is wonderful and also not so great, as the length makes it very difficult for them to stay up and in place after curling.  I usually do really well with a waterproof, lightweight mascara (like L’oreal Voluminous Million Lashes in Waterproof…SO AMAZE) but waterproof can be harsh to remove.  As I get older, my lashes are not as plentiful, and for some inexplicable reason they are turning a crazy blonde color!  I have naturally very dark brown hair, and this blonde lash thing is throwing me off lately. So NOW I really need a deep dark blacker than black formula to get the look I really want.  You know, bombshell crazy drag-ish. BOOM.

Which leads me to the point that yes, I bought yet another new mascara last week.  I am a big fan of Bobbi Brown for certain products in my professional kit, like the fabulous Cream Stick Foundations and super critical Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks, so I thought I would give the new Smokey Eye Mascara a go!  It’s NEW!  I couldn’t resist!

Upon opening my nice new tube, I noticed right away that the formula is very rich and deep black.  It was not goopy or overly wet upon the first stroke of application.  What I really loved right away was the immediate effect of BOOM it gave my lashes.  If you need lash drama and do not want to try to build up the lashes for 15 minutes, this mascara is for you. The brush is of classic spiral wand construction, but with tons and tons of hairs, not a rubber brush.  You will not get advanced lash separation, so if you like a very separated look this mascara is not for you.

I loved the big immediate drama, but I noticed it is not the most buildable mascara on the planet.  It can get a little chunky when too much is applied.  If you want to try a Bobbi Brown mascara like this but one that is much more easy to layer, I highly recommend the Extreme Party Mascara.  According to a Bobbi Brown resource of mine, Smokey Eye is designed to last up to 12 hours and resist flaking and smudging, is very rich black, and adds lots of volume and length.  The Extreme Party mascara has a similar description, but is noted as “buildable,” and does not claim a richer black pigment.

After 10 hours of wear I did not notice any flaking or smudging, which is fantastic! And surprising!  Because this formula is not waterproof, my lashes weren’t cemented up to a perfect curl all day.  It’s to be expected.  For personal use I think is a great mascara option for every day.  I think the mainstream consumer will love it.  In my kit, however, waterproof mascara is absolutely crucial to my main clients (brides!  And their happy but waterworks prone families!) so I don’t think it’s the best go-to kit mascara option for the professional artist.  If you are a makeup artist who LOVES having many different formulas to choose from, this is a good one to have on hand for deep pigment and quick drama. Alas, as is always our mascara dilemma as artists, we lose the awesomeness of the product due to the use of a fresh, disposable wand for every dip, and we don’t have a TON of disposable options to choose from (unless you really want to buy a brand new mascara for every client.  I wish, but I don’t even have the storage space for that extra inventory!)  On that note, I will still stick to my trusty L’oreal classic Voluminous for the majority of my clients.   You better believe I’ll be buying Smokey Lash Mascara again for myself though. I love the deep rich black pigment, it’s beyond quick and easy to apply, and the formula really stood up to the wear it claimed. Not my Holy Grail mascara, but better than the majority of the prestige and high end mascara options out there, in my opinion.  It’s a good thing it lives up to its claims, this mascara’s retail price is $28!  (Thank you Bobbi Brown for your generous Pro discount, by the way…)

Pretty Penny recommends Bobbi Brown Smokey Lash Mascara if you:

  • Often use the words “diva,” “drama queen,” or “luxe” to describe yourself

  • Do not have a ton of time in the morning to apply makeup, but you want to look like you did

  • Prefer a very rich black mascara

  • Prefer a classic mascara wand

  • Really just love to try new mascaras!

  • Think the term “smokey eye” just applies to your everyday makeup look (<——yep, that’s me!)

Thanks lovelies!  I would love to hear about your mascara woes, situations, mishaps, faves, duds, experiences.  Chime in below!

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Too Faced Color Bombs! Review and Swatches

Oooh we love the sight of new Fall beauty launches! We couldn’t help but be drawn to Too Faced Cosmetics and their fun new Lip Injection Color Bombs!


The colors are gorgeous and there is definitely something for everyone! Too Faced is pretty famous for innovative products. I remember purchasing their original Lip Injection lip plumper yeeaarrsss ago. That baby WORKS. You can feel the tingling right away thanks to the cayenne pepper resin, and certainly see your lips turn a deeper pink. In this revamped version, Too Faced put their Lip Injection formula into these very pretty balm-like lip colors. The color payoff is sheer but buildable. Your natural lip color will definitely play a large role in how each color looks on the lips. Swatches below on my fair skin (NC15 in MAC complexion if that helps!)


The shape is also…interesting? The product is shaped like a bullet and can be twisted up to advance the product as it is used.


The rounded tip makes application a bit more painstaking with my small lips. I find this problematic as the formula will plump everything it touches. If it gets outside your lip line, all around the mouth will look pink and inflamed! This goes for all skin, so beware if you swatch them on your skin. My arm had red streaks for quite awhile!

All in all we all really love these. The colors are great for a range of skin tones, the product feel is comfortable and hydrating, it leaves a slight stain and really does plump.  It’s a cool new item for lip product junkies, but really does not have any use in the kit of a professional makeup artist.  Could you imagine a bride wearing this cayenne pepper-laced concoction and kissing the poor unsuspecting groom?!  Not the best beginning for wedded bliss.

Our tip for the most crazy plumped up luscious lips EVAH: Use a clear wax lip pencil to protect your lip line (we like Urban Decay’s) and apply your fave Color Bomb. Top with the glorious glossy original Too Faced Lip Injection. Prepare to stun the world with lip awesomeness. Also be prepared to feel the burn of double the Lip Injection, and be aware of who you kiss! (You know, no babies, kids, nor pets.)

Anyone else canceling their collagen injections in favor of these beauties? Hahaha…

Review: Smashbox Liquid Halo HD Foundation

SmashboxLHaloHave you jumped on the crazy “HD” bandwagon yet??

Everywhere I go it seems every new beauty product is high definition or bust…or at least advertised that way.  As a makeup artist it has been ingrained into my brain that high definition is really more of a technique than a product.  When high def started to be the norm in the film and television industry, artists had to roll with the times and re-learn makeup application at the magnified level.  Every single face was clear, and like SCARY clear on screen.

That being said, on the consumer level, wouldn’t it be nice to have a product that gave you the HD skin with minimal effort?  Um, YES.  I am not often impressed by the HD lingo on a pretty bottle of foundation, but of course I have to try it if it’s new!  (SQUEEE!)

Long story short, I tried the new Smashbox Liquid Halo SPF 15 Foundation. Many of the tones leaned toward yellow as opposed to more neutral undertones.  This can be good for me, as I need to reduce the redness in my very pale complexion, but I have seen this type of tone go bad in minutes on me.  Tested on my hand, it did not seem to oxidize at all.  I experienced this with their heavier foundation, Studio Skin, so I felt confident in buying my shade that it would not make me orange.

There is quite a strong fragrance in this liquid, almost a sickly sweet chemical type scent.  This is my biggest negative about the formula.  I usually use my hands to apply (old school makeup artist right here) but this day I opted for my trusty Cargo Magic Brush to buff the foundation into my skin.  It was instantly, surprisingly pretty.  I was certain I would dislike the light coverage, but my hand test was not accurate.  This covered quite well in one layer of application.  It did not immediately find pores and make a cozy home in them.  It didn’t cake up, did not separate, did not settle into my laugh lines.  The finish is really gorgeous, dewy, HAPPY.  Smashbox claims it is designed to mimic studio photography lights on your skin.  I thought this was ridiculous when I bought this in store, but I can say that I see where they got the description.  Somehow, it does this.  And it’s beautiful.

The biggest test is wear time on me.  Almost every foundation I have tried breaks up quickly.  If my skin hates it, I can see huge disgusting patches where the makeup broke up, settled in horrifyingly, creased dramatically.  Liquid Halo DID NOT break up on my dehydrated skin.  It stayed smooth and flawless, and it maintained the color and finish over 10 hours.  I set with a light translucent powder, but I think this diminished the beauty of the skin.  It’s such a habit of mine to use powder no matter what, gah!

From an artistry standpoint, I can definitely see this replacing good old Make Up For Ever HD liquid foundation in my own kit.  I have never been a huge fan of the coverage, tones, nor finish of the MUFE.  I also cannot use that formula on dry skin, it doesn’t look right in my opinion.  Living in a desert climate, I think you can see my dilemma.  Yes it is a kit staple industry-wide, but I am just not that into it.  Smashbox, I haven’t been super stoked on you for a few years now.  You have redeemed yourselves with this stellar foundation formulation!

Pretty Penny Recommends Smashbox Liquid Halo Foundation if you:

Have normal to dry skin, or combination skin

Are not seeking a full coverage foundation

Like a dewy finish

Are not super duper oily

Have relatively smooth skin texture

Are not experiencing a dramatic acne breakout

It is a golden day when I find a new foundation that ACTUALLY WORKS for me!  Sound off in the comments and let me know what you thought of it!

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What’s with all these BB Creams?!


Ah, this much-publicized, fawned over thing known as the “BB Cream.”juiceCCcream

Well you cannot walk into any sort of beauty establishment or department store without getting practically smacked in the face with the latest offerings from EVERYONE.  The BB was designed to be an all-in-one skin healing/helping complexion product.  It was first credited to a German dermatologist who created it for her patients.  It had moisture and hydration, antioxidants, sunscreen, light coverage, etc.  Like a foundation, but with more BANG!   Also lighter in texture and weight.

This wonder cream, originally known as “Blemish Balm,” was adopted by beauty brands in South Korea where it took off like CRAZY.  The Korean brands added skin lightening agents and many many other ingredients to boost the benefits of this all-in-one.  Enter: American Cosmetics brands.

Obviously “Blemish Balm” has a somewhat negative connotation here, so most brands catering primarily to an American clientele jumped aboard with their own versions of the BB.  Here it is mostly marketed as “Beauty Balm” or simply “BB Cream.”

If you truly want the benefits of skin-loving ingredients, sunscreen, and hydration choose a BB Cream made by an actual skin care company.  These tend to boast the healthful benefits without all the junky, blocking silicone ingredients.  You may not get the coverage you want from this alone, so use it as your base layer and finish with a powder.  Many can even be layered under a liquid makeup, just be mindful of the ingredients as oil and water do not mix!  An oil based BB Cream under an oil-free, water based liquid foundation can be makeup break-up city.

If you are in seek of a lighter-feeling makeup and like the idea of added benefits, choose a BB from a makeup brand.  These will behave like a makeup and give you the coverage you’re looking for.  Stick to your serums and moisturizers with SPF first for the best skincare benefits possible.

So what are the tried and true favorites for us here at Critical Makeup?  We fell in love with Too Faced Cosmetics original Beauty Balm for finish and coverage.  It has a smooth as silk finish that lasts all day on almost every skin type.  If you tend to be quite oily throughout the day, you can pair this with their phenomenal Primed and Poreless powder both before application and to set.  The combo together is just dreamy, and the coverage of the Beauty Balm was beyond our expectations.  For so much coverage we expected a very heavy feel.  We got just the opposite!

For true skin care benefits and texture we love Juice Beauty’s CC Cream (CC stands for Color Correcting…just like the BBs but with added ingredients to help combat uneven skin tone and dark spots.) This is a Certified Organic brand, and it does not get any cleaner than that.  The ingredients are healthful and can be understood in plain English!  This would be more of a layering cream if you need coverage, and they have an amazing Stem Cell/Resveratrol juice base for intense anti-aging.  We also love the SPF 30 AND that there is no water in their products!  That is a rare find in the heavily diluted cosmetics world.

Did you fall in love with any BBs or CCs recently?  Tell us what you think!

XO Pretty Penny XO

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Review of L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes

I tend to try mascaras of every price range, mostly because I LOVE a huge voluminous look, and also because mascara is just fun.  I love to layer different brands to see what may surprisingly mesh, and what may turn into a tar-like disaster.


My go-to mascara brand since age 14 has been the impressive L’Oreal.  Their Voluminous line has always delivered the results I expect, and for added length I have used good old Lash Out with the classic “teddy bear” brush for my first layers.  I am a sucker for new products, so I of course had to try L’Oreal’s newest addition to the Voluminous line, Voluminous False Fiber Lashes.  I don’t usually like fiber mascaras, as most tend to be clumpy and flaky for me, but THIS was a dream.  Quick separation, crazy easy to build, and my lashes were not weighed down by the formula.  All in all I haven’t been this impressed by a mass market mascara in years.  This was not the typical fiber formula that I am used to, and it took half the time to build the volume I wanted.  I am SUPER stoked on this new mascara! Well done L’Oreal, you have impressed a picky artist.

(Please note this is specifically the Waterproof formula in Black.)

It’s Gettin’ CRITICAL in Here!

Welcome fellow makeup lovers, writers, nerds, Moms, skate culture enthusiasts, etc.

You may wonder at the interesting name of this blog.  No, it is not a massive critique of all things in the beauty industry.  It takes its name directly from skate and surf culture, a culture we know and love here at Critical Makeup.


A situation that is unbelievable, crazy or downright scandalous.

The above is taken straight from a slang term commonly used among skaters and surfers.  (Source:  We started using this term to describe a number of things in daily observations.  Pretty Penny sprinkled it in every conversation about beauty, and as you can imagine, that is frequently the subject of conversation!  To many of the beauty enthusiasts, makeup artists, product hounds, etc., makeup really is critical to own and use daily, and also critical in the aforementioned unbelievable, crazy, scandalous way and/or situation.

This site will consist of reviews, general comments, tips and tricks, things I am loving at the moment, hilarious observations, etc.  It is what you make of it.  And don’t take it too seriously…it is only lipstick after all!


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