Sometimes you get what you pay for.  I know it’s total cliche, but I have now remembered that it’s totally true.

Over the past year I have won 4 minor contests/giveaways from different cosmetics manufacturers. Mind you, I didn’t win the “grand prizes” of trips, years worth of free products, money or appearances at any events or on any shows.  Instead, I won a total of 1 lone free product each time.  Still, a win’s a win, right?

My total winning beauty haul is comprised of 2 mascaras, a makeup (foundation) primer, and an eyeshadow palette. Decent beauty haul, each and every one, and most if not all were accompanied on their maiden voyage to my mailing address with a lovely note about my win.

Here’s where my luck turns a bit odd, though (but fortunate for you, the reader, as you’ll now benefit by getting 4 reviews in one!):

WIN 1:   Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

The make up primer was the original Smashbox Foundation Primer, clear and translucent in its silicone-based glory.  It’s a nice product, which I have both purchased & used before, and which I will probably continue to use when I have it on hand.  However, I’m not a slave to this specific primer, nor would I sob uncontrollably if it were to suddenly be discontinued, as lucky enough for me, there are several formulations of this product even within this same cosmetics line, not to mention a slew of similar products from brands from Ulta & Sephora’s house brands to ELF Cosmetics to Maybelline New York to L’Oreal Paris to MakeUp Forever and Hourglass.  So, the market’s pretty saturated, and I have more than enough full size containers, samples and travel sizes of primer away in a makeup bag to supplement the multiple bottles of different brands of makeup primer I’ve become the proud owner of over the years.



WIN 2:  Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner in Natural Nude

The eyeshadow palette was one of the Shimmer Strips from Physicians Formula.  I must admit, I’ve been slowly collecting all of these palettes that I could, and have most of the green eye ones, the smoky eye ones, a hazel eye one, and even one named Fashionista (with a cute chartreuse button glued to the front of the purple reptile textured palette. It was as if it were MADE FOR ME).  This Shimmer Strip was one of the Nudes (Warm Nude? Neutral Nude? Smoky Nude? I can’t even remember since I have them all – wait, found the photo; it’s Natural Nude).  But again, needless to say, the product performed well and has found a home in my collection & kit, in good standing with regular use in the rotation (just like the foundation primer has).  The different shades of beiges, browns, golds, taupes and peaches are all frosty, so if you’re looking for a matte finish, this is not the product for you.  However, if serious shimmer is your thing, then this product line is made for you.  I find some of the colors layer well over darker matte shades in the same family, if you wish to mix things up a bit, and they also “set” nicely cream and gel shadows & liners.  Very handy in a pinch, and fun to experiment with.  Plus, in the nudes shades, one could also use a large fluffy bronzer brush over the strip & use it for a gentle all-over glow, or use a smaller fluffy brush for more direct & shade specific highlight & contouring if one wants some shimmer in their makeup.

shimmer strips

My luck ran out when I got to the 2 mascaras I won, though.

WIN 3:  L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara

The L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes was an item I had seen in the store aisle at Target and wanted to try, but had not yet purchased.  And while waiting to see if I could find a coupon or sale somewhere to justify me buying yet another mascara before my current ones (notice I said ONES. not ONE. As in I use multiple mascaras all at the same time, like some sort of lash neurotic) were ready to go on their one-way trip to the recycle bin, I received this one in the mail.

Sweet surprise!

So, fast forward a few weeks after receiving my prize in the mail.  I cracked open the package, opened the tube, and tried using this mascara on its own.  On first inspection, I liked the brush shape, the bristles (not too hard, not too soft), and the shape of the tube as far as being a bit outside the norm (it has a defined shape to prevent me from over-tightening the package when I’m done & cracking the tube).

For my initial trial/first use of the product, I used it on its own, without cocktailing it with any other mascara or lash primers.  I found the consistency to be a bit lacking, unfortunately.

I had used several versions of the Voluminous mascara before, and liked the formulation and some of the brushes, though not all of them.  I even have a few tubes of the  L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Pro Extra Volume Collagen Hydra Plumping Mascara in my collection, which to me is the first mascara that came to my mind when I opened this new one up.  I found that visually, the formulas appear very similar on the brushes.  But, that’s where the comparison ended.

This Million Lashes formula seems wetter and clumpier, with some issues in drying without sticking to neighboring lashes.  While the Collagen Plumping one at first is just as wet, it goes on evenly and allows one to comb it over a lengthening formula mascara without any problems.   The Million Lashes does not work as well alone or in combination with other mascaras.

I have tried it several times since that first use.  I have tried wiping down the wand prior to application (My tip:  use a blotting paper for this unless you like to add a good layer of lint to your lashes from your tissues or cotton pads).  I have tried cocktailing it, meaning I used either a lash primer or a lengthening mascara first, and then added a coat of this mascara.  I have re- tried wearing it alone.  I have even tried several comb-throughs with lash combs, spoolies, and even using other cleaned off mascara wands that were plastic or rubber.  No dice.  It seems that at least for this tube of Million Lashes (I will give L’Oreal Paris the benefit of the doubt that this might be a dud tube of product) all it wanted to create on me was a Million Clumps.  I was able to save the nice rubber-bristled wand, though, and after washing it off & drying it, I do like using it to run through my eyebrows after I wash my makeup off to ensure I get any residual makeup off successfully & to groom my brows before bed.

LOreal win mascara

WIN 4: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin CC Curl + Care Mascara.

This is my most recent win. All I can say is wow. Great packaging, great brush. I like the bristles & the curve (not too curved, not straight). The package is easy to hold when using a hand mirror (like I do to apply my eye makeup) without taking up too much space in your hand & dropping, and it’s easy to open (I’ve been known to tighten my mascara tubes & lipgloss tubes till I crack the necks. This bottle, with the flat design, prevents this).

My only complaint, however is the drying time and resilience of the formula.  Now, to be completely fair & honest, I’m not one who is often suckered into purchases by the word “ORGANIC” being used in the marketing for the item.  I also understand that without many of the standard cosmetic ingredients for standard mascaras that the consistency, drying times, etc. can and will be affected.


I do expect that once applied, my mascara won’t run to the hills at the slightest dampness on my face.  I work out on my lunch hours.  And due to this, I tend to sweat (no, not glow, not perspire, but sweat).  I also do not use any waterproofing products on my makeup for the regular work days, nor will I ever use waterproof mascara (tried it once and HATED it, so I avoid it like the plague).

I have never before experienced any form of running mascara in my entire life, which is a lot to say, since I’ve been playing with makeup since I was a little kid of at least 4 years old.  Even in all that time, through all the decades, and from all the price points I have tried, from $1 store brands to department store brands, I have never before experienced mascara that stayed damp and runny for its entire wear period, as this one did.  I called & spoke with a customer service representative on their Customer Relations Department line listed in the prize insert.  She informed me that this mascara is supposed to be more of a “conditioning coat” or “cream” that doesn’t have harsh drying solvents in it, and therefore takes several MINUTES to dry between coats, and can still remain “moist” while on so that it treats the lashes.  Knowing this now, I’m not quite sure how I would properly wear a perpetually damp mascara, and because of this, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be wearing this one again (outside of if I need smeary eye makeup for Halloween).  Which is a sad discovery for me because I really did enjoy the brush on this one.

Phys Form CCmascara

But, don’t you just take my word for it, dear readers…feel free to add your comments & personal experiences below for discussion.


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