Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lolita Makeup Review: They're Real! Mascara by Benefit

A few weeks ago, I was killing some time downtown while waiting for my boyfriend to get off work, and somehow I ended up, after a good bit of coaxing, in the makeover chair of a Benefit boutique. While we began by discussing concealers, after hearing that I had a couple minutes to waste, my sales associate ended up going to town and showing me a huge host of her best-sellers du jour. One of these was the brand new They're Real! Mascara, which I was told is currently the best-selling mascara in the world - and let me tell you, I can see why!

The marketing for this product is something I'm still on the fence with- it plays off of aspects of femininity which are often "faked" by women, alluding specifically to plastic surgery such as boob jobs, to go with the false-lash effect the mascara imparts. On the one hand, it's sexy without being demeaning, and in my opinion, kind of empowering - it says that whether you're "real" or "fake" (eg, whether yours is natural or artificially-enhanced beauty) is your own damn business, not the casual observer's, so why not keep them wondering? On the other hand, it does hold up this obsession with secretly-artificial beauty which, masquerading as natural, therefore means that people have to work harder to be considered attractive to society, which distances themselves from their own natural beauty.

However, as someone who really doesn't mind looking "fake" sometimes, I'm not terribly bothered by this. Which is convenient, really, because this mascara is honestly mind-blowing! As a lolita who's always had problems with false lashes (*shakes fist at latex allergy*), I'm a huge fan of over-the-top mascara. My associate put the mascara first on only one eye and held up the mirror - and I must admit, I was so shocked I burst out laughing! It honestly looked like I had just put on a pair of large and noticeable but still natural-style false lashes, and I immediately demanded the product be sold to me - after, of course, it was applied to my left eye as well as my right.

The mascara itself thickens, lengthens, AND curls- my eye shape is slightly asymmetrical, so I usually have to curl my left lashes even when I'm not curling my right so they look the same, but I was impressed to see that I didn't need to do that with this! My naturally long, thickish lashes were enhanced to falsie-proportions as well. This is combined with a pretty interesting wand, which has little spikes sticking off the ends- hard to see in this picture (indeed, hard to photograph at all, especially when you forget to clean it off first...). These are designed for getting in really close to the shorter, thinner lashes on the inner corners of the eyes and also the lower lashes, if you swing like that. It leads to greater accuracy when detail is needed and, therefore, a better end result with fewer mistakes.

Left: just with mascara. Top right: totally bare. Bottom right: with full make-up

It's a bit hard to see in these pictures, as, well, I'm still getting used to my new phone's camera (fancy phones with fancy phoneography! Welcome to the 21st, Lumps!), but even still, you can see how much thicker my lash line looks, as well as how much wider it makes my eyes. Combined with full make-up, my eyes are more prominent, rounder, and more doe-like.

As much as I love this product and don't regret the impulse buy, it's probably not something I would have bought if I'd thought about it a little more. I'm more inclined to buy mascara that can be layered so that I can put a less noticeable coat on for work or casual wear, and then add a bit more for nightwear or lolita, and at $23 a pop, this mascara isn't exactly as multi-faceted as I would have hoped. However, it works amazingly at what it's intended for. Also, it's worth it to point out that you're gonna wanna go with the industrial-strength makeup remover for this bad boy - if I don't, or if I only give it a quick, lazy wipe, I'm left with black gunk under my eyes for about three regular soap-and-water washes. While this reflects well on how long-lasting this mascara is (definitely not going to need to reapply over the course of the day!), it's also kind of frustrating, as it deters me from wearing this product on lazy days when I may not want a whole face-load of makeup. Again, works great, but makes it a much less versatile product than I'd prefer for the price point.

Verdict: Four out of Five. This can do amazing things, and I definitely recommend it, but its lack of versatility means it didn't deserve a perfect score, in my book.

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