Finding the perfect mascara: Operation Experimascara

finding the perfect mascara

Is it possible for a girl to have both length and volume? I’m talking mascara, folks.

I wasn’t so sure. I’ve tried my fair share of mascaras: the super dry, the super gloopy, the pricey tubes and the drug store varieties. Certainly somewhere out there a perfect mascara had to exist that actually fulfilled its magazine ad photoshopped promises, right? I took to Facebook and asked my friends to tell me what they loved, to give it to me straight, to tell me what I clearly did not know:

Best mascara? Like, big fat luscious thick black lashes. ‘Cause I still ain’t found the one.

59 very passionate comments later and a Sephora gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I was like, yo’, we are going to figure this out – here we go, Operation Experimascara! And just like that, I set off to find The One.

Before you take any advice or recommendations from me, here’s my little disclaimer — My makeup expertise level is this: I’m a Burt’s Bees chapstick and tinted moisturizer kind of girl. And when I throw that out there all nonchalant, that means it takes me an hour to casually throw that shit on, only to look like I’m wearing nothing, yet if I was actually wearing ‘nothing’ GOD HELP US ALL. But I will never, ever* leave the house without mascara because swear-to-god, I look like death without it.

*So OK, there was this one time I did leave the house – by mistake – without mascara (HOW DO YOU FORGET MASCARA?), got to work and thought, something isn’t right! and had to go home sick because I physically looked unwell.

In my experimascariment (huh?) I tested 10 mascaras: 3 drug store varieties and 7 that I could obtain from Sephora (hello, gift card!) – all of which were recommended by my Facebook friends.

Here are my results:


A favorite: Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara ($16) – This was pretty great for length, even in just one coat. However it did sting my eyes (told you I was no Mac Counter Girl) and was on the more gloopy side.

The in-betweens:

Bad Gal

Benefit’s Bad Gal Lash ($19) had a big ass brush – like, WHOA NELLY what do I do with all of this – sort of brush. Great length and volume but very messy. If you’ve got a handful of q-tips, a few minutes for clean-up and some courage, it’s not too bad – just messy.


Smashbox Full Exposure ($19.50) was named for the brush, I think. Because you’re like, hey now, cover that big thing up, this feels a little inappropriate. It’s a big brush and I feel like you need a few days of learning how to maneuver it before you’re good at it. It’s definitely a messier, wetter application but you do get good length at first coat. Take a minute or 10 between coats though or you’re asking for trouble.

Great Lash

That famous pink tube – Great Lash. I mean, it’s hard to hate on a classic but if you’re going to go drug store, L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly is just better. Great Lash gives you length, not volume and is messy.


Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express is another drug store find. It has a softer brush than Great Lash and gives you decent volume (minus the ‘e’ I guess) but not much length. Again, L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly is just better.

The disappointments:

Benefit Theyre Real

Benefit’s They’re Real ($23) was a huge disappointment, mostly because it’s was the most recommended mascara on Facebook by friends. I had high hopes for this stuff. I tried it for three days, thinking it must be me, I must just not get it. And I know people say there’s a ‘learning curve’ to the brush and whatnot but you know what, after 3 days and not loving it at all, you know what I say? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. It was a much drier formula with a pokey-ass brush and while it did give me length, there was no real volume.


Man, there is nothing like a bad mascara day, amirite? Buxom’s Sculpted Lash ($19) was the mascara I could not wait to remove – absolutely did not like.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 11.47.52 AM

The brush itself looks really promising when you pull it out – you’re like, now this bad boy is going to do amazing things. HATED IT. Now I don’t know if I got a crap tube of it or what, but the formula was so dry, it flaked onto my cheeks as I was applying it. There was neither length nor volume to be found. Whenever I caught a glance of myself in the mirror, it looked like I had put on eyeliner and forgotten mascara. RUINED MY DAY, GUYS.


Too Faced Lashgasm ($21) was great for the first coat and Lump City on the second. Maybe if I had waited longer between coats? I don’t know. But I didn’t give it another shot. At this point, my poor lashes had been through hell and I was not about giving second chances. (Side-eyeing you, Buxom.)

So did I find The One? Does this dramedy have a happy ending? I did and it does.

There was a very clear winner for me: Tarte - $23.


If you want both length and volume and that HOLY SHIT THOSE LASHES LOOK AMAZING! factor, you want Tarte. The end. First coat is pretty great on its own. Second coat is like, DAMN GINA. You will look at your eyes every time you hit the commode throughout the day and bat those beauties. #selfie

However, maybe you’re side-eyeing me like I’M NOT PAYING NO $23 FOR MASCARA. OK, I hear you.


L’Oreal’s Voluminous Butterfly Mascara was actually a very close second. Whether or not I was using that brush correctly, I’ll never know. But you get length and volume that’s unlike any other drug store variety I’ve tried. And it’s $7-ish.

So what did we learn here? Probably not much. But I do hope my little experiment helps you find The One that’s right for you.

You’re gonna make it after all


I started this post a million different ways, attempting to be poetic about a year I felt deserved it. Something about new beginnings and starting over again, trying to find a romantic way of summing up a new era. But it’s really just as simple as this: finally.

It has nothing to do with 2013 or 2014 for that matter. It’s here nor there, though there’s something about New Year’s Eve that sends us all hunting and pecking at the keyboard, hopeful for change we didn’t feel compelled to find yesterday and motivated for a future we hadn’t planned for until now.

I’m done putting my faith in the turn of a clock, praying to the At-A-Glance calendar on the wall as though it has something to do with my coming luck. That’s on me. And now that I’ve woken from my please please please let this be my year eyes closed tight empty wishes, it’s up to me to make it my year.

And because I say so, this will be my year. Again.

Extraordinary courage


It’s pretty much impossible to not be inspired by this.

Sometimes you don’t get to pick which fears you face; sometimes, life chooses them for you. Courage is what you do when you’re faced with those adversities.

Meet Deborah Cohan. While her story of undergoing a double mastectomy is far too common, her courage is extraordinary. Deborah didn’t just face her fear, she danced in its face.

Courage is also infectious. It’s hard to not step up and face the small things when you see someone like Deborah nail the big ones. But no matter what our fears – big or small – may we find the courage to dance around them like Deborah, finding beauty in the cha-cha of life that is sometimes one step forward and one step back.

10,000 miles

do not feed the fears

“In 1991, I decided I would no longer live a life based on fear.”

Gail Lowe has twice hiked the Appalachian Trail solo, from Georgia to Maine. I found just a tiny piece of her story in the November issue of Real Simple, (so apropos right?) and thought, wow, now that’s some #OpEleanor stuff right there.

In Real Simple, Gail talks about her first solo trek: “The truth is that when I was going through a divorce decades ago, the idea of being alone was incredibly intimidating. But the first time I hiked the Appalachian Trail back in 1991, I decided I would no longer live a life based on fear… It was so freeing: When you refuse to let fear run your life, the possibilities become infinite.”

So I won’t be hiking the more than 10,000 miles Gail has; I don’t like peeing outdoors. But her story is beyond inspiring and her words sum up the spirit of #OpEleanor: to no longer live a life based on fear. And the truth is, we’re all blazing our own trails, making our way through the brush; none of us getting through it without a few scratches and scars. The beauty of the climb being that there’s little doubt we’ll all find our summit, atop whatever mountain is ours to conquer.

Here’s to reaching our new heights.

#OpEleanor – It’s time to begin again


It’s my favorite, hardest time of year. For the month of November I challenge myself – and you, if you’re so inclined – to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be a month of enormously overwhelming to-dos, thirty days of tiny little tasks or a combination of both. But big or small, it’s about conquering the hesitations, facing the fears, doing what you normally might not have done because fuck it, life is too short to live in fear all the time.

This is the third year of Operation Eleanor – or OpEleanor – which came from the Eleanor Roosevelt saying “Do one thing every day that scares you.” (You can read more about how it came about herehere and here.) How it works is really up to you. Always wanted to go skydiving but never had the courage? Do it. Don’t know the name of the woman you always share small talk with each morning at Starbucks? Ask it. Had the urge to try red lipstick and never worked up the nerve? Go for it. Been meaning to get something off your chest that has been eating away at you? Now’s the time.

OpEleanor is not about the size of the fears you’re willing to face. It’s about challenging yourself to no longer hesitate when it comes to doing the things you might have stopped yourself from doing before. It’s about going for it. Big and small – all of it.

For some, the 30 day challenge of facing a fear each day is a deeply personal, private journey and for some, it’s also about sharing those hard-earned accomplishments with other #OpEleanor people. You’re welcome to use the hashtag (definitely take a minute to search it on Twitter and be inspired by others), tweet it out, blog it, pin it, whatever. Make it your own. Whether you keep it quiet or tell others, I urge you to keep a journal or list of your achievements to look back on later – you’ll be surprised as how much you accomplish in those 30 days; that much I can guarantee.

Welcome to the hardest and best 30 days. Good luck – and good for you.

What remains / after the fire


Walking beyond the red tape of what is now a crime scene is surreal.


Every time you look, you see something new; something you can’t un-see.


Years of peoples’ lives and memories burnt to ash, just recognizable enough to make you realize what was lost.


An awkward arrangement of complete loss and random items left mostly unscathed.


The smell permeating your lungs a week after it has had time to settle.


Destruction every which way you turn.


The rubble shifting and crunching beneath your feet, seemingly discontent with its untimely demise.


And even as you stand and stare at the evidence right before your eyes and beneath your shaky feet, you still can’t believe it.


You’ve lost count of the times you’ve asked yourself if this really happened.


And yet here it is, sitting untouched.


Waiting for answers, waiting for justice.

The fire


For all the bad, we were lucky. That’s the beginning and end of everything I can tell you and all of what’s important, but damn if the ’could have beens’ aren’t haunting.

My phone rang at 1:29 am, my mother crying frantically on the other end, pleading for help, something about “the is house on fire” and then disconnecting before she could tell me if everyone had gotten out. We ripped startled kids out of their beds, yelled for them to put on shoes and stuffed them into the car and strapped them into seat belts so I could race across town, still not knowing. My sister called screaming as I drove, and I tried desperately to take her off speaker phone, the bluetooth automatically broadcasting her panic to wide-eyed boys who were as scared and uncertain as I was, if not more. “Is everyone out?” I pleaded and she just cried and yelled gasping for breaths “I don’t know – it’s bad, Megan. IT’S BAD. HURRY.”


We couldn’t get anywhere near the house, smoke still billowing as we drove past. I don’t remember parking my car, just ripping kids out of it and running down the street with them, strangers offering to take them from me. A familiar face finally grabbed them from me and I kept going, finding my family – all of whom were out and OK, thank god – and there I stood, weak kneed and bent over, dry heaving among fire hoses and foam, firefighters, police and neighbors, sick with relief and terrified at the blinding lights and disaster.

But everyone was OK.


And then I took in the other scene also unraveling at the same time. In the middle of all this bad was something very good. Every single neighbor was out, at 1:40 am, working together to make sure everyone had what they needed.

The neighbor who noticed the smoke and woke up the sleeping families.

The neighbor who took a garden hose to the flames until the fire department arrived.

The neighbor who served coffee.

The neighbor who took in displaced families.

The neighbor who took in pets.

The neighbor who took in my kids for hours.

The neighbor who clothed people who didn’t have shirts on their backs when they evacuated.


And of course the firefighters who not only did what they do (and well) but went above and beyond as well as the Sheriffs Department and the bomb squad who had been up two days straight at that point. And so many others.


As I said, we were so lucky. And we are so grateful.

20% discount for PostalPix

PostalPix Discount

Hell yeah, it’s a discount code for PostalPix.

I mean, maybe I should do more of an intro about it. But TWENTY PERCENT OFF YOUR PURCHASE pretty much sums it up.*

Use the code: undomestic20 on a single order through Wednesday, July 3rd.

(If you haven’t used PostalPix – it’s an app for iPhone or Android that allows you to buy prints – and other photo products – right from your phone. I’ve been using them to print all the bajillion photos I take on my phone since I joined Instagram 1,911 photos ago and they’re pretty rad.)

I don’t do giveaways or ads or whatever normally so if this is one of those then here you go, I am fully disclaiming whatever it is I have to disclaim: PostalPix was like “do you want to give away a discount code on your blog?” And I was like “Uh, yeah!” and here we here. DISCLAIMED.

I hope you use it. Not just because it’s great deal, but because I’m a big proponent of making a habit of printing at least a portion of all those photos we keep imprisoned on our phones.

*I’m obviously pretty awesome at this review/giveaway stuff, maybe I should do more. Heh.

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