Writing this review and thinking back on my experience today, I start to think about how science fiction horror movies prepared me for what I went through a few hours ago, and yet I fell victim to human folly anyway. How do you make something that’s already 3‑dimensional even more 3D? You don’t. That’s called bending the laws of science and reality and it results in having nightmare fueled flashbacks to the X‑Files arc involving the Black Oil virus.
A week ago, I was (re)gifted me a mascara duo that a friend had been coerced into buying, even after having tested the make up and finding that it wasn’t her thing. That’s where the evil really begins, I suppose. This stuff wheedles its way into your life whether you want it to or not, and that, most definitely, is not the way that one is supposed to acquire make up. Make up is meant to make us feel good and look good, it’s an outlet of fun and experimentation, and we choose the brands, the colours, the products, that we are drawn toward. If someone tries to force cosmetics on you, you should probably run.
Still, I accepted the gift because, well, free make up is free fucking make up. I also assumed, as did my friend, that her experience had simply been because she has very sensitive skin to begin with. She knew she would probably never use it, and she knows that I enjoy make up. It was win/win, we thought. I added the mascara to my collection, and made a note to try it next time I was going out. Oh, how thankful I am that I got bored before my next errand run. While organizing the vanity-esque half of my work desk, I decided that today was as good a day as any. After all, I knew this mascara had a certain technique that I would need to perfect at some point, so trying it before going out in public was probably a good idea.
We’ll call this product... uh... let’s call it UnKompairable FeelingHit 4D Material Mascara.
If your social media accounts are as obnoxiously ad-filled as mine tend to be, you’ve likely seen this stuff being shucked out by someone who fell into the Pyramid Scheme that is the foundation (oh dear gods please tell me they don’t also make foundation, what a terrifying thought) of this cosmetics company. From what I’ve discovered, this is the only way to purchase this product: by being pulled into its virtual cult. It’s ridiculously overpriced — and this is coming from a girl willing to drop 50$ on 4 lipsticks all in nearly-identical shades — and has a convoluted concept. Meant to volumize, thicken, and moisturize(!) lashes, this mascara isn’t for beginners no matter what you’ve been told. Actually, it may even be marketed towards gamers, because you have to compete with some serious quick-time events to make sure you put this stuff on right.
Now, I won’t deny that as an avid make up junkie who gets glammed up sometimes just to stay home in my pajamas and play sudoku on my phone, a lot of the trends I see usually strike some interest in me. This mascara had never really caught my eye (OH HAD I BUT KNOWN), but I was pretty excited to get in on this for all the #selfiegains.
Trying a new mascara, I wanted to see the full effect of what I was going to be getting with this miracle product, so I got out that medieval looking torture device you lovingly hold dear if you have lashes as arrow-straight as mine: the eye-lash curler. I’ve never been able to do it without pinching myself at least once, and there’s always that chance you accidentally crimp your lashes in a perfect 90 degree angle (I once curled them so far back they high-fived my eyebrows every time I blinked too hard) or pull a few out if there’s even a hint of mascara already on your lashes or the curler. This would be the easiest part of my night.
Prepped, I set about finding some videos online of how to properly perform this ritual that I now believe is occult in nature, given the torment I went through and the allusion to demonic spider legs left scattered over my eyelids when I was done. After watching several and feeling certain I knew what I was doing, I rewatched one of the more detailed videos, and braced myself.
I should have known this was going to leave me needing medical care when I looked at the first half of this concoction and realized it was called Transplanting Gel. Transplanting WHAT?! What are we taking and where are we putting it? I briefly wondered if eyelashes were on the checklist when you agreed to be an organ donor. I felt underwhelmed however (don’t worry, past me, this will change very soon) when I saw that the gel is basically just mascara itself. Applying it, it looked and felt identical to any drugstore mascara I’d used before, and watching in the mirror, I expected to see something fabulous happen as soon as it touched my lashes. After all, I was apparently getting myself ready for cosmetic surgery! My already 3D eyelashes were about to get the 3DD treatment!
But, I had to hurry! This was stressed by most of the videos I had watched, and was apparently best handled by having the second half of the mascara ready to go — to the point that some even seemed to double-fist the products like what they were about to do was possibly illegal in some states. Now, I had seen what step two involved, but that hadn’t prepared me for experiencing it in person.
How to properly describe this strange, fuzzy tool... It looks like a mascara wand, as it rightly should, but. But it looks like a mascara wand you would find under your couch after your cat had run away with it weeks ago. Imagine cleaning out the lint catcher in your dryer with a lint roller. Better yet, imagine a q‑tip made out of steel wool. This is what I believe they used for a prototype, and the idea just kinda, stuck.
While the gel is still wet and tacky on your lashes, your job now is to take the fiber wand, and drag — drag, I feel, is the only appropriate verb to use here, as what you are doing is not technically applying a second coat, but trying to transfer the fibers onto your lashes. And as technique showed in the videos, you need to do this as much as you can as quickly as you can, and really bulk up those lashes. Supergluing a cotton ball to your eyelid might possibly have the same effect (NOTE: DO NOT SUPERGLUE A COTTON BALL TO YOUR EYELID). I’m sure, by now, you can understand the concept. This all sounds rather easy, if a little over the top. But here’s the thing they don’t tell you.
That shit. Gets. Everywhere. What you’re doing, essentially, is dumping a bunch of tiny little black fibers onto your eyelashes and praying to the gods they’ll stick. And you’re doing this upside down, if you really think about it. You coat your lashes from root to tip, by brushing them on the bottom. You’re trying to throw spaghetti on the ceiling of your face to see if it’s al dente. You can’t trust gravity, my man. And I didn’t. And I still paid the price.
I want to make something clear. Everyone pokes themselves in the eye with a mascara wand now and then. It’s a fact. It happens. We do it and it hurts and you pray you haven’t just ruined a look that took two hours to perfect, and you move on. What happened next has nothing to do with human error on my part. The wand never once came near my eyeball. These Cursed Wands of the Dark Arts that even He Who Shall Not Be Named would be terrified to wield, barely hold onto the fibers they carry. Bits of this fluff easily falls off. It covers you head to toe if you’re not careful. A butterfly farting in the next room could make fibers fall off of this wand. These little dustings of black wrath are ready and willing to leave their prison and you have just been declared warden and unlocked all of the cells on death row.
As they’re supposed to do, these fibers, these fuzzy bits, these — let’s face it, facial pubic hairs at this point — build up as they get dragged along your eyelashes, but they apparently have better things to do. Like clump themselves up into a decently sized ball and fall right onto your eyeball. All it takes is one startled blink, and it’s like your sclera was the hippest party in the neighbourhood and then someone fucking shouted, “IT’S THE PO PO!” because these fuckers scatter like drunk high schoolers out past curfew. Your tear duct becomes the safe house. Your lower lid becomes a trench for these soldiers of guerilla warfare to hide and attack.
top left: it’s in my eyeball! it’s invading! | top right: it’s trying to get to my brain!
bottom left: it’s. fucking. everywhere. | bottom right: perfection got nothin’ on me.
I had to do a lot of touching of parts I’d rather not touch, to get my eyesight back. This is, of course, a worst case scenario, but I really can’t see (HA!) this not happening every time you choose to use this mascara. This attack of 3D fiber fuzz didn’t just contain itself to my eye, though. Something very similar to eyeshadow fallout happened, but it happened everywhere, and it was sticky from the transplanting gel and itchy because it was secretly Pink Panther Insulation dyed black. It became clear, that if this were to become a habit, I would need to learn to do my lashes first, and then have a shower so I could do the rest of my make up on the blank canvas of my face.
There was one saving grace in my time of need. I’m certain this stuff is waterproof. Having been created in the bowels of Hell, considering it’s obviously soot scraped off the walls of the Underworld, I can safely assume only Holy water is going to make this mascara bleed. You sign a pact when you wear this shit. Instead of blood on the dotted line, you’re stabbing yourself in the eyeball with a pipecleaner. Had it not been waterproof, the brillo pad that I had just shoved into my eye may have continued down the rest of my face in a wash of tears and exfoliated my cheek so thoroughly that Maybelline would have chosen Freddy Krueger over me for their next campaign.
After reaching back into the depths of my own orbital cavity with a clean q‑tip to get the last of the enemy off of my eyeball, and literally sweeping from one corner to the other to lift globs off of my pupil, you would think I was finished with the task and could now at least enjoy the spoils of war. No. I am but a lowly pawn and I will be lucky if I get the scraps that the dogs won’t eat. Now is the time for salt on the wounds, people, because now you have to go over your lashes with the transplanting gel again, and now I know why they call it that. Because what they want you to do, is transplant the last little bits of clinging iron shavings off of your lashes and into your eye again, as going over your lashes only disturbs the fibers that did not initially stick.
And then, oh, and then. You don’t just get to walk away at this point, either. That would be admitting defeat, and a girl who has put half an hour into one eye of mascara does not walk away, ladies and gentlemen. She does what she came to do, on a Tuesday night at home with nothing but boredom and curiosity to keep her company. She takes up her eyelash comb, and she does what the girls in the videos refer to as “tidying up” or “fluffing” or whatever other comforting term is going to make her think she can still come out of this with her dignity.
I no longer have dignity.
Like a frantic and stressed mother pulling knots from her child’s hair seconds before the school bus arrives, I fought to coax my matted lashes apart from one another, promising them ice cream when it was all over, telling them they could watch all the cartoons they wanted if they would just cooperate. It didn’t work. Despite all my best efforts, my metaphorical child went to school wearing three lopsided pigtails, and I looked into the mirror in despair at the chunks of uneven, nearly fifth-dimensional once-were-eyelashes-but-now-were-clearly-the-spikes-Ivan-the-Terrible-used-to-landscape that surrounded my bloodshot and sore eye.
If the 80’s have made a comeback, and brought spiky spider-leg lashes with them, then maybe I can survive in this world. If the next trend is to look like Alice Cooper and Twiggy had a lovechild that grew up and took make up tips from Alex DeLarge and his droogs, then you can find me on the runway.
left: a certain unique mascara | right: my trusted rimmel scandaleyes show off mascara