The Science Behind Mascara

Friday, 30 January 2015

Oh hey Abi’s readers, it’s Lucy from sparklyscience.com here, and I am taking over! Sparkly Science is a blog on the science behind stuff we care about day to day, and like many of you I really care about my mascara.


My current mascara collection; a wide price range but they’re all pretty good!

Mascara is one of the most hotly debated beauty products with thousands of brands claiming they have the perfect solution in their little tube to create big, dark fluttery lashes. In Boots alone there are 280 types, with prices ranging from a mere £1.99 to a hefty £33. This makes it no surprise that mascara is one of the most blogged about beauty products of all time!  But I have been wondering, how does mascara actually work? And what is the difference between what is in a high end mascara compared to the cheaper options?

Pigment – Let start with colour, and how mascara makes our lashes so black (get prepared for some high techy chemical name dropping). Most mascara contains iron oxides and titanium dioxide to give black and brown tints, carbon black is also a common chemical for giving a dark tint. Mascaras with blue hue contain a chemical called ultramarine blue. These pigments are mixed with oils, water and waxes to make an emulsion, and that is pretty much all that is in mascara.

Lengthening – Many types of mascara that claim to lengthen your lashes contain ‘micro fibres’, which are usually made out of nylon (the same material as tights!) or cellulose (a fibre that makes up plant cells). They seem like weird materials to use, but these tiny fibres are able to cling to the end of each lash and hang over the edge, extending our natural lashes so they look like spider legs.

Thickening – Some of the thickening effect comes from the dark carbon black pigments, giving the optical illusion of thicker lashes. Also, the nylon and cellulose micro fibres can cling between lashes, giving the illusion of more eyelashes being there, but it’s really just the ones you have being clumped together by tiny bits of tights and plants in a big web on your eyelid. Another strange material we seem to be putting on our eyes is tapioca starch (yes, exactly the same as tapioca pudding!), this is an effective lash thickening agent in organic mascara.  

Smudge proof- A key component of mascara is waxes like carnauba, ozokerite and beeswax. They bind all the ingredients of the mascara together and glue them to the lash. This allows the mascara to stay put throughout the day, despite our constant blinking, sweating and accidental eye rubbing.

Waterproof- These waxes also protect the mascara pigments from water as they are hydrophobic (which means they can’t dissolve in water). Water can’t break the bonds between the waxy mascara and the lashes, so we won’t get panda eyes in the pool or whilst sobbing watching ‘one born every minute’. The only thing that can break the bonds between the hydrophobic wax and the lashes is oil based makeup remover.

High end vs high street- what’s the real difference?

Honestly, a lot of the ingredients are quite similar, and there are many cheaper brand mascaras that give great colour, length and are waterproof. However, some subtle additions and changes to chemicals in some pricey mascara can give them the edge in a few areas:-          
  • More colourings – I noticed that my Estee Lauder mascara had a longer list of pigment chemicals in the ingredients than my Maybelline mascara. This combination of several pigments could explain why it creates a slightly darker black (although to be fair, the cheaper one is still pretty dark with its iron oxides and carbon black).
  • More waxes – typically high end mascara has more smudge free hours of wear, this is due to a wider range of waxes being used, and sometimes better quality wax to give it extra staying power. The use of shellac in high end mascara also improves longevity of wear, but recently shellac is present in many cheaper brands too.
  • Silky texture – some designer mascara contains tiny amounts of pearl to create a silky shiny finish, it seems super fancy but really it is a teeny tiny amount!
  •  Conditioning – pro-vitamin B5 is present in many cheaper mascaras, but other B vitamins are added to pricier mascara to further improve lash condition. This helps pretty curls to form and keeps lashes in top condition.
As this is a beauty blog I thought you would like to know that my favourite mascara is Estee Lauder double wear; the texture is like silk! I have also been really impressed with my Maybelline ‘Colossal Go Extreme – waterproof’ which was a fraction of the cost, but still gives me beautifu
l thick lashes that last all day, even after a swim!


My favourite mascaras! Don’t underestimate the humble Maybelline; it lasts longer than the Estee Lauder!

So, next time you choose a new mascara, take a look at the ingredients! You may not have to splash as much cash if you can see that the cheaper brand has all the pigments, fibres and waxes that you need (See...science is useful!).

Thanks for having me Abi! For more posts on the science behind useful stuff like hangover cures, sex, love, dieting and shoes check me out at sparklyscience.com.

Love Lucy xxx

What I'm Wearing | Night Out OOTN

Wednesday, 28 January 2015











Jacket - Miss Selfridge
Dress - H&M
Tights - Marks & Spencer's
Socks - Topshop
Boots - Bank
Bag - New Look
Bracelet - Topshop
Ring - Topshop
Earrings - Topshop
Lipstick MAC -Rebel

It's been a while since I did a post for my 'What I'm Wearing' series, so I thought it was about time I shared another look with you. At the weekend, I returned to my old University to catch up with friends and have a big night out, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do an OOTN. I had a bit of an outfit dilemma as I really couldn't decide what to wear, but eventually, I settled for this lace dress from H&M which I bought a few months back. I love the contrast between the lace top and the opaque skirt. I teamed it with my cut out boots which I'm still absolutely loving and because it was so cold, I decided to wear black tights. However, because I was wearing all black, I wanted to add a splash of colour with these lilac lace trim socks from Topshop. I completed the look with my leather jacket from Miss Selfridge and accessorized it with this statement Topshop flower chain bracelet, cross ring and ear cuff as well as my black patent clutch bag from New Look.

Let me know in the comments what you think of this look.


NYC Beauty Haul

Wednesday, 21 January 2015







If you saw my last post, you would have read about my recent trip to New York and whilst I was out there, as is to be expected, I did a lot of shopping. As a beauty addict, I ended up bringing a lot of make up home with me, some old favourites and some new products to try.

I have been after this for a very long time, but have never had the money to get it, so have always opted for a slightly cheaper primer. However, as I was in America AND they had a discount on the 44ml size, it would have been rude not to get it. I wore it all week and am already in love with it. I know there's a lot of hype around this product, but I really do think it's worth it. It claims to minimise the appearance of pores and help make up to stay in place for longer, both of which I believe to be true. I think the real test will come when I wear it in the Summer as my make up has a tendency to slide of my face with the heat. The great thing about it is, that a pea sized amount is all that is needed and so I can see this tube lasting a long time. 

Again, this is a product that I've been after for a while and I'd hoped it would be cheaper in America. However, unfortunately when we went over the conversion wasn't great, so it was pretty much the same price as I'd pay in the UK, but what better way to spend my holiday money, eh? Having tried several highlighters, this is my favourite, I blend it in along my cheekbone and it leaves a lovely shimmer that catches the light whilst still looking natural.

A bit of a boring product, but an essential! I'm so bad when it comes to cleaning my brushes, I use the Johnson's Baby Shampoo to give my brushes a deep clean, but it's so time consuming and it's rare that I have the time to allow them to dry, so I knew I needed something else quick and easy. This is perfect because I just place a bit on a tissue, clean the brushes in it and they dry instantly, it's definitely made my life easier. I will still use the baby shampoo as I think it's important to give them a proper clean, but hopefully I won't have to do it as often and won't have to worry about how dirty my brushes are!

Now onto the old favourites that I repurchased in New York. I raved about this product in my September Favourites and am still absolutely loving it. I was just starting to run out of it before I went away, but eked it out so that it would last until I could buy it in New York. Although, the packaging was slightly different, I'm pretty sure I've bought the right one! It's such a great alternative to foundation, as I've mentioned before I'm not a massive fan of wearing foundation on a regular basis, as I find it really heavy on my skin so a BB cream is perfect for me. As I had loved this one so much, I didn't want to experiment with a different brand in fear that I wouldn't love it as much. 

Having just complained about foundation, I do wear it on nights out or days where I've got a lot on/special occasions. I've yet to find a foundation that I absolutely love, I am forever trying different brands so if you know of a really good one, please let me know in the comments! Anyway, this is the one I've been using currently and whilst I'm not completely sold by it, I did decide to buy it again because it seemed to be long lasting with a good coverage, but I'm still on the hunt for my fail proof foundation.

Talking of fail proof products, this is probably my fail proof make up product as well as being the one I've used for the longest, I've never used another powder because I absolutely love this one. I used to wear it on it's own, but as I've become more in love with make up, I use it on top of concealer or foundation to produce a flawless finish. 

I used to love this mascara and swore by it, I even included it in my Make Up Must Haves post last year. However, over the past months I had been using MAC's Studio Fix Boldblack Lash and whilst I really liked it, as I came towards the end of it, I felt like I should return to the Maybelline Falsies to remind me of why I loved it so much. I'm glad I did because I am absolutely loving it and now I remember what all the hype is about.

It's safe to say my suitcase came back a lot heavier than when I went! As I mentioned before, let me know what foundations you recommend as I'm keen to find one I love!






Naked 3 Make Up Look

Tuesday, 20 January 2015








As mentioned before, I recently received the much loved 'Naked 3' palette from Urban Decay and wore it on my birthday night out. I had lots of compliments on my make up that night so thought I would share the look with you.

I started by applying my Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, and then used MAC's eye shadow in White Frost as a base. Next I applied 'Darkside' from the Naked 3 palette all over my eye lid. Once I had blended it in, I took 'Blackheart' which is such a gorgeous colour from the 'Naked 3' palette and blended it in the outer corner of each eye and through the crease to give some definition to my eye. I then used Soap & Glory's Supercat eyeliner along the lid of my eye. When I have quite a heavy make up look like this, I like to use the Maybelline 24hr colour tattoo in Eternal Gold in the inner corner of my eye to help open the eye up a bit. I then used my favourite eye liner of all time, the Smolder Eye Kohl from MAC along my waterline. Finally, I finished off the look with my Haute & Naughty Lash Mascara also from MAC.

Other Products used:
Primer: MAC - Prep + Prime Skin
Foundation: Maybelline - Dream Matte Mouse in Porcelain Ivory
Powder: Rimmel - Stay Matte Pressed Powder in 004 Sandstorm
Blusher: MAC - Powder Blush in Style
Eyebrows: MAC - Eyeshadow in Omega
Lipstick: Clinique in Fresh Watermelon (discontinued)

I really liked this look and have created it a couple of times since. Have you tried the 'Naked 3' palette? Let me know in the comments below.



NYC | NYE

Sunday, 18 January 2015


Anyone who knows me or follows me on social media won't have been able to escape the fact that I went to New York a couple of weeks ago and spent New Years Eve there. Emil bought me the tickets for my birthday and Christmas (I am a very lucky girl and have the best boyfriend ever!) Both of us had been so busy at work/university that we hadn't had any quality time together and with working in retail, it meant that I didn't really get a Christmas, so this trip was a much needed break! We had such an amazing time that I thought I would share with you some of the things we got up to, I took over 500 photos and have been able to whittle it down to just a few for this post. I love reading about other people's travels and so thought I'd write about my own, but I hope that it's not too boring. I'll try and keep it as brief as possible!

Monday
Due to the Jet lag, we both woke up really early and decided to make the most of it by walking from our apartment through Central Park. It was such a clear day and we saw lots of scenes from famous films. Times Square isn't far from Central Park, so I told Emil I'd like to visit there before it got all crazy at New Year. When we were there, we made it onto a billboard, although only for an advert and only for about 10 seconds, it was such a special moment. In true American style, we had a McDonalds for lunch, you have to try the local delicacy, right? After Times Square, we walked up Fifth Avenue and jumped on a Subway back to the apartment. That night we went to a Texan restaurant near Madison Square Gardens which was like nothing we'd experienced before, you went up to the counter and ordered your meat by the pound, we definitely looked like tourists as we had no idea what was going on. However, the food was incredible!

Tuesday
Emil has a friend who lives in New York and works in the Hearst Tower where magazines like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire are based. She very kindly invited us to her offices in which you can see beautiful views of Central Park as it's right by it and not many buildings obstruct the view - which is unusual for New York! Afterwards, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which I really enjoyed and then ended up in the financial district. Without planning to, we visited the 9/11 memorial, which I found so moving and it really made me reflect on the events of that awful day. Having not been to New York for a while, I was so moved by how much they had changed 'Ground Zero' and the touching memorials they had put in place for all of those people who lost their lives. Next, we went to Grand Central Station which has to be one of the most extraordinary train stations in the world and then went home and ordered, what felt like, the world's largest pizza!

Wednesday
For Christmas, I bought Emil tickets to the top of the Empire State building and as it was such a clear day, we decided to go up it on the Wednesday. Although the queues were long, it was so lovely to be able to have such amazing views of New York. The last time I went up the Empire State Building, I was only about 12 and I don't really remember it, so it was great to do it again. Afterwards, we walked to the Rockefeller Centre and had lunch over looking the ice rink. We then went home via Macy's to do a quick bit of shopping before having a nap to prepare us for the evening in Times Square, we couldn't go to New York and not see the famous 'Ball Drop' in Times Square on New Years Eve. Although I have never been so cold in all my life and the wait was really long, I am glad we went as it's something that not everyone gets to experience and it was such a great atmosphere at midnight. 

Thursday
As we had had such a late night the night before, we both slept in and when we woke up, decided to go to the East Village to this cafe that Emil recommended. However, with it being New Years day it was super busy so we had to settle for an American diner instead. Afterwards, we walked around the area a bit and then decided to get on the Statten Island ferry to have a look at the Statue of Liberty. It was so beautiful as the sun was starting to set and the sky was such a beautiful colour. That night we went to a typical American restaurant called 'Brother Jimmy's', the portions were huge, American football was on the TV and the drinks were bottomless - I definitely felt like a New Yorker that night!

Friday
We woke up super early in the hope of being able to get a table at the cafe we hadn't been able to get into the day before. Once we got there, even though it was only 9.30am, the wait was still an hour and a half! We put our names down and went to do a bit of exploring. We ended up in the most incredible sweet shop, it was so amazing to see all the different American sweets and the 'imported goods' which was all the English chocolate! We then went back to the cafe and after another wait, we were finally seated. When I say this was the best breakfast I have ever eaten, I'm not lying, although not to everyone's taste I had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake with chocolate pancakes and maple syrup (no judging - I have a sweet tooth!). It was worth the wait and the wasted trip the day before because it was absolutely incredible! Afterwards, we got a Subway to Brooklyn and visited the Barclays Center where the Brooklyn Nets play, we had a little look round and then headed back to Manhattan. That night we went to a Meatball restaurant. Although not typically American, the food was amazing as you pretty much got to choose whatever you wanted to eat, from the meat, to the side, to the sauce etc - so so good!

Saturday
This was our last full day in New York and so we went for one last walk through Central Park and visited some of the shops on Fifth Avenue, using up the last of our dollars! We had lunch in Five Guys which was incredible and so much better than the ones in England! This was our only bad day with the weather as it was raining and snowing all day. After a look around a few more shops, we went home. That night we went to an amazing Mexican restaurant as I had been craving burritos all week. Afterwards, we went for a drink with Emil's friend which was really lovely and sadly returned to the apartment for the last time.































I genuinely had one of the best weeks of my life and would go back in an instant if I could. Sorry for rambling on in this post, I hope I didn't bore anyone. Emil also vlogged a lot of our trip so click the link below to check that out!






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