Nu Evolution Mascara

I can’t think of a more polarizing beauty product than mascara. What’s celebrated as an icon by some, is deemed a fail by others. It’s incredibly subjective; everyone’s criteria on what makes a mascara great is really personal. (I still cannot understand what the fuss has been around Maybelline’s Great Lash the past few decades.)

Here’s my criteria:

  • Let me do a quick swipe and look natural.

  • Let me apply several coats, building so I’m *this close” to looking like I have lash extensions on.

  • Truly black pigment, nothing that looks dark grey in sunlight.

  • No black crumbs stuck to the tips of my lashes, no flakes accruing underneath my eye.

    (Lastly, the clincher that separates a winning formula from just about every other tube on the market.)

  • Holds a curl all day.

My lashes are blessedly thick and somewhat long, but really fine and stick straight. Which means a couple minutes post application, they flop down, defeated, underneath the weight of the mascara. This is even after a serious session with a Shu Uemura lash curler (the gold standard by many) used Kevyn-Aucoin-style (curl at the bottom, walk it out and keep lightly pressing as you angle the handle of the curler upwards each time. Feels weird at first, but really makes a difference!)

This tube, by Nu Evolution, has been a repeat buy several times. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about it, it’s frankly brilliant. The formula and brush surpasses any other. It checks all my boxes and gets better with each use as the pigment dries down and gives me more control. I used to be able to buy this at Credo Beauty, who’s sadly stopped stocking the line. But it is still available from the brand’s website directly. ($28 Nu Evolution).

Reverie Rake Styling Balm

I’ve been admittedly hard-pressed to find an exciting alternative to the Bumble & Bumble products that I enjoyed during my college years. Like everyone else, I want my haircare to work efficiently, But while I’ve been committed to a classic bob cut the past few years, I’m a sucker for lines that exude edginess. Maybe it’s to compensate for the plainness of my hair in contrast with the spectrum of bold choices paraded on Instagram.

At any rate, Reverie has ticked all my boxes when it comes to haircare. Clean ingredients, beautiful unisex scents, elegant packaging and quality formulations that perform exactly as stated. This balm, with its mysterious and woodsy scent, gives the right amount of definition while still keeping strands breezy. My husband goes through pot after pot of these, it gives him enough control to tame his thick and wavy hair. He likes it because it’s not too shiny or wet, but not one of those drying beeswax-y type formulas that accumulate and weigh down hair.

To each their own, but my technique is pretty simple. Smashing a bit between my palms, I tousle and pull the product though the lower half of my hair. It takes less than a minute, and polishes up my bedhead so it looks purposefully messy. (2.5 oz, $36

*Note, they’ve since upgraded the packaging from the above photographed glass pots to a tube.