shu uemura brow:sword eyebrow pencil - seal brown

lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil Review

Brows were never a priority when I ventured into all things beauty. I was more willing to figure out eyeliner before I went near the tiny strands of hairs above my lids. The thought of plucking one too many hairs or wrongly shaving a portion was too stressful. At least with other areas of makeup, I could remove it if anything went wrong. Brows? That requires a wait for it to regrow. Now that I mustered up enough trust in myself to tackle my eyebrows, I am slowly getting the hang of all things eyebrow related.

When I had the chance to shop shu uemura in person during one of the many layover stops in Hong Kong, I couldn't pass on the chance to try their brow products. The brand is best known for their cleansing oils and brow products (more precisely the hard formula pencil). While I love to try coveted items, I hated the idea of having to manual shave the tip with a knife—which led me to the shu uemura's brow:sword .

I would be lying if I said this was my first eyebrow product, this was actually number 2. First place went to Anatasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. I don't remember what shade I purchased or if it was even a good match or not. I walked into Sephora and trusted the experts to help me with my first brow item. After a few months of sparing usage, I thought the product itself was just ok; the pencil and spoolie broke off a little too easily and the tip was too thin for my liking. The main feature I liked was its retractability.

brow:sword is the complete opposite of Brow Wiz. One is thick, the other is thin. One has a slanted edge, the other a fine point. One is very sturdy, the other quite flimsy. All that I didn't like about Anatasia's bestseller, I found were fixed with shu uemura's underdog star.

lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil seal brown label

lavlilacs lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil seal brown packaging

shu uemura's description:

1st pre-shaped naginata brow pencil. easy and soft, yet precise and defined. the beautiful smooth texture allows for easy drawing and with a pre-set sharpener precision that comes naturally. the convenient brush tip also helps blending for a beautiful, perfectly finish brow look.

Directions
how to use brush
pull the bottom cap off to reveal the brush. hold the brush flat against the brow and brush outwards to comb brow hair.

how to use sharpener
twist the bottom cap to reveal the sharpener. hold the sharpener on notch at the bottom, twist the pencil to reveal 7 mm lead and gently slide the pencil along the groove at a 30 degree angle.

Ingredients
STEARIC ACID, RHUS SUCCEDANEA FRUIT CERA, HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, SUCROSE TETRASTEARATE TRIACETATE, C1-30 CHOLESTEROL/LANOSTEROL ESTERS, TRIETHYLHEXANOIN, SORBITAN SESQUIOLEATE, TOCOPHEROL, [+/- MICA CI77499, CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77891]

shu uemura (Japanese retail): ¥ 4,000
shu uemura - refill cartridge (Japanese retail): ¥ 2,000
shu uemura (American retail): USD $35
shu uemura - refill cartridge (American retail): USD $25

lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil components
lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil sword closeuplavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil sharpener

Packaging

A double-ended eyebrow product with a replaceable retractable pencil on one end and a spoolie/sharpener combo on the other. The pencil cartridge is easily removed with a gentle tug. Twisting the spoolie end will reveal the sharpener to help achieve the unique sword shape.

I love the design of this. The tube is thick and long enough to hold comfortably while not straining my hands. The spoolie is on the stubbier side but it is sturdy, none of that thin and flimsy stuff. I have never used the sharpener despite it coming with the pencil. I don't find myself ever needing the tip to be blade sharp.

lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil seal brown swatch

Color, Texture, Finish, & Scent

Seal brown is a very cool-toned ashy brown. This is the shade the sales associate in Hong Kong recommended me. Again, I made up my mind to trust her; c'mon it is Hong Kong! They help loads of people with dark black hair and with my similar skin tone. Seal brown seems to be a good match. The brown helps give a softer look and the cool undertones make my brows look more filled-in/shadowy versus drawn on.

The pencil seems waxy in its formulation and gives a matte finish. There isn't any scent. I love that it is is a harder type eyebrow pencil. I've used it for almost 2 years (albeit it was nearly untouched for the first year) with varying degrees of pressure and it never broke or crumbled on me. A light swipe only gives a faint line—but that is just the way I like my eyebrow pencils. Put a tad more pressure and the line gets exponentially deeper. This lets me build up the intensity to however I want. If a pencil is too soft and creamy I would over apply way too quickly.

lavlilacs shu uemura brow sword eyebrow pencil seal brown swatch on brows

How I Apply

On most days I draw an outline around my existing brows, giving it a sharper shape, and proceed to fill in the gaps. Then I take the spoolie, brush out my hairs, and blend away at the harsh edges I drew in for natural-softer brows.

Thoughts & Recommendations

Once the product is on my face it is very easy to blend with a spoolie; therefore, it is just as easy to rub off. With that said, my filled-in brows stay on for a long time on combination skin. The only time it is disturbed is if I scratch an itch or rub it accidentally (say against clothes or a hat).

Other than loving the color and formulation of the brow:sword, I didn't know how much I prefer the thicker slanted brow pencil tips until I started to use this product. The diagonal shape helps speed up the brow process a ton. I don't have to worry about whether my hand will draw a straight line with a tiny precision pencil or have to stroke individual hairs. If I did want to make hair-like strokes I could easily use the tippy-end of the sword to make the same defined lines as a precision pointed pencil would.

I almost forgot how expensive the shu uemura brow:sword is. Even compared to similarly shaped brow pencils available at Sephora, it is on the pricier end. Granted, one cartridge of the pencil is lasting me a very long time and I would give the brand bonus points for selling refill cartridges. Unfortunately, it seems like most shades of the brow:sword and refills are regularly out of stock (or never restocked) and shu uemura only officially sells via their website in the USA.

My experience with brow pencils is limited. But I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this product and shade to anyone else with darker hair, especially those with naturally black locks. Ashy browns aren't as harsh nor as strong as gray or black could be (unless that is the preferred look). Having a retractable slanted tip also makes this great for eyebrow newbies and lower-maintenance types since application is quick and pencil maintenance is virtually non-existent. For now, this will go on my wishlist for whenever I, or any family or close friends, touch-down in Asian airports or even visit Canada.

23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask

I am not usually one to splurge on masks. Affordable, huge-packs of sheet masks have been my jam ever since I joined the skincare game. Yet I always felt they lacked something. Despite all the claims of brightening, pore-reducing, oil-control, age-defying, and so on...it was always just another moisturizing and calming product for me.

For the price, I cannot complain. But there are some things that have always bothered me. I am essentially forced to lie down for 20-30 minutes so the sheet and essence wouldn't fall off. If I am particularly tired and fall asleep with it on, the cotton supposedly reabsorbs all the moisture back + whatever is in my skin. Finding a brand with a mask that fits well is also a hit or miss.

I have tried clay masks and peel-off charcoal masks; I hated the clean-up and the pain. When the modeling masks became crazily popular on Instagram, it seemed to promise sheet masks' hydration, peel-off masks' satisfaction, and being pain-free. I couldn't believe my eyes and was intrigued. 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask encapsulates everything that is trending in Western and Korean skincare right now: masking, vitamin-C, niacinamide, Centella Asiatica extract, and Coptis Japonica root extract. What more could I ask for?

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask description

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask directions

WishTrend's Description:

The C-Tragel Modeling Mask captures in the moisture while giving your skin a tone up effect with a unique C-tragel and Vitamin powder blend to help your skin energize to seize the day. Tone up, moisturize, replenish, and energize easier and better with the C-Tragel Modeling Mask!

C-Tragel is the perfection solution to improve your skin with an innovative combination of seabuckthorn oil and four seed oil to relieve, moisturize, calm, soften, soothe, strengthen, and energize to give you the extra boost you need to push through your day flawlessly.

Directions
1. Combine the C-Tragel with Vitamin powder in the mixing bowl.
2. Use the spatula to mix the solution in one direction.
3. Using the spatula, spread an even layer of the mask onto the entire face.
4. After about 20 minutes, remove the mask peeling from the bottom in an upward direction once the mask becomes firm.
5. Use the heat of your palms to help absorption of the remaining essence of your face for about 15 seconds. The heat enhances the effects of vitamin C.

Ingredients
Gel packet
AQUA, GLYCERIN, GLUCOSE, PEG-75, ALGIN, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA(LICORICE) ROOT EXTRACT, CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, GLYCERIN, ZINGIBER OFFICINALE (GINGER) ROOT EXTRACT, SCHIZANDRA CHINENSIS FRUIT EXTRACT, COPTIS JAPONICA ROOT EXTRACT, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, PROPOLIS WAX, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL 1,2-HEXANEDIOL, PEG-60 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, PEG-60 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE, TETRASODIUM PYROPHOSPHATE, CELLULOSE GUM, NIACINAMIDE, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL, HIPPOPHAE RHAMNOIDES OIL, HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA (WITCH HAZEL) EXTRACT, BACILLUS/SOYBEAN FERMENT EXTRACT, MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA (TEA TREE) LEAF EXTRACT, ACTINIDIA CHINENSIS (KIWI) FRUIT EXTRACT, MALPIGHIA EMARGINATA (ACEROLA) FRUIT EXTRACT, MANGIFERA INDICA (MANGO) FRUIT EXTRACT, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) LEAF EXTRACT, CHAMOMILLA RECUTITA (MATRICARIA) FLOWER EXTRACT, PLANTAGO ASIATICA EXTRACT, THUJA ORIENTALIS EXTRACT, HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA EXTRACT, ALLANTOIN, DISODIUM EDTA, CITRUS LIMON (LEMON) PEEL OIL

Powder packet
GLUCOSE, CALCIUM SULFATE, CHAMOMILLA RECUTITA (MATRICARIA) FLOWER POWDER, ASCORBIC ACID, ALLANTOIN, NIACINAMIDE, MALPIGHIA GLABRA (ACEROLA) FRUIT EXTRACT, CAPSICUM ANNUUM FRUIT POWDER, ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF POWDER, ZEA MAYS (CORN) STARCH

23pack (Korean e-commerce): ₩29,500
Wishtrend: USD $29.90
oo35mm: USD $25.99
Sasa: USD $29.50 (price varies sometimes)

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask security sticker

Packaging

The modeling mask contents come housed in a sturdy plastic jar with a twist on lid. 23 Years Old seals it to ensure authenticity and it looks like they even include a barcode for those who want further confirmation via their 23YO mobile app. I chose not to double check mine since I have trust in oo35mm (where I bought mine from) and didn't want to bother with an app download.

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask components

Each container comes with 4 sets of the gel, powder, and wooden sticks. The bigger oval-ish packet contains the gel portion of the modeling mask; the smaller rectangular packet has the powdery stuff. I like that everything is pre-portioned. There is no room for error on my part since I don't have to measure anything out myself. It is a headache for those who are eco-friendly because it is a lot of extra waste.

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask contents

Color, Texture, Finish, & Scent

The gel portion of the modeling mask, straight out of the packaging, is bright translucent yellow in color. It has a very noticeable citrus, specifically orange, scent.

The powder is mostly white with some brown speckles pre-mixing.

In case it isn't clear, I empty out the plastic container and use it as a mixing bowl. After I combine the wet and dry ingredients together the goop turns into a bright orange color with pulp-like bits suspended throughout. If the gel, pre-mixing, smelled a bit like citrus, the combined mixture smells just like cutting open a juicy orange. The gel becomes slightly runnier after it is blended yet still holds some shape.

There is an initial cooling sensation and tingliness immediately following application—as if you didn't know you had a cut and got some fresh orange juice on the wound while peeling its skin. The tingle doesn't last very long, maybe a few minutes max? I assume it is because of the ascorbic acid. It might also be the ascorbic acid + niacinamide pairing.

The goop is very easy to spread in the sense that it will not start drying and seizing up mid-application. It is much more forgiving application wise than the Lindsay clay modeling mask (that one starts drying within a few minutes after mixing the powder with water).

How I Apply

Tip #1
23 Year Old's gel modeling mask isn't overly drippy but the force of gravity is strong. I like to place more at the top (of forehead/highest point of cheeks) and let it naturally travel down while helping it along with the wooden stick. I do have to say that it was difficult the first few times I used the C-Tragel Modeling Mask because I was trying to stare at the mirror while scoop stuff out of the jar and applying it on my face, on top of trying to make sure nothing gets caught in my hair or drips onto the floor. But practices makes perfect, yeah?

Tip #2
Tied hair is a must. But a headband of some sort is also a necessity, a clip just won't do. Every little strand of hair must be pulled back and held down taut. It doesn't hurt at all to remove hair from the dried mask; it is still a pain in the butt to have to pick tiny pieces of gel out without a wash.

lavlilacs 23 Years Old C-Tragel Modeling Mask rubber gel mask

Thoughts & Recommendations

It takes around 30 minutes for the gel to completely set.  Even after the gel sets, it doesn't ever feel dry. You know like how jello can solidify but still have a damp/wet feel to the touch? I like that I can freely move my mouth, eyes, and nose if need be. Depending on how evenly the modeling mask is applied, it could come off in one piece. I found that the whole mask slides right off once I start lifting up some of the outer edges. Cleaning the mixing bowl is also a breeze—wipe with a tissue, rinse with water, and air dry.

Maybe my skin was pretty dry pre-masking or is it just the characteristic of modeling masks? Unlike sheet masks, there isn't much extra essence to pat in with the C-Tragel Modeling Mask—my face still looks very well moisturized and plump though! I could immediately move onto the next step in my routine and seal the essence in with a moisturizer. The mask seems to have helped with my pores throughout the next day since the pesky holes did seem less noticeable (without having done anything else new in my routine).

Even though modeling masks are pricier and require more effort when compared to sheet variety, I am beginning to prefer the gel mask more. The big factor is I could actually move my face and sit up without worrying about the sheet mask sliding off. Plus the act of mixing a mask and applying it to my skin with a spatula feels pretty relaxing...after I overcame the learning curve. Since I use these style of masks more sparingly it also feels more pampering rather than being just an extra step in a multi-stage routine whilst trying to conquer a neverending hoard of sheet masks.

October Haul

lavlilacs October 2017 haul - drugstore sales and coupons

You would think that after the massive skincare haul I made last month at Peach & Lily's sample sale I would not buy anything else for a while. Funny. There's always something to accumulate...apparently. At least the few items I picked up in October were all bought on sale, with discounts, or given to me as a gift/souvenir. Once CVS hooked and reeled me in with their discounts, I lost all control. I can see why there are people in the world who take coupon-ing very seriously. The satisfaction is unreal. I comfort myself by saying I paid $10 or less for each item.

When Neutrogena released their Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment I was skeptical but intrigued. Price kept me from getting one to call my own; at it's cheapest I've seen it retail around USD $17, at it's priciest I've seen close to USD $23. If the dinky looking light wand didn't work, $23 would have been a nice filling meal out with friends! As my face was erupting during that time of the month, I coincidentally found a $10 off manufactures coupon for the Neutrogena Light Therapy range and CVS also sent me a 25% off coupon...I beelined right to the store. After coupons and taxes, I ended up only paying $8.77 for the light therapy stick. Score!

After falling in love with the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, I couldn't help but get another backup since I had coupons a plenty (40% off + $2 manufacturer's coupon...$16.49 to $8.77). I am not in dire need of another moisturizer right now but it is more reassuring to know I have a backup on hand just in case one of the newer products doesn't work out. Plus, when I do use the PM lotion, one bottle only lasts me around a month. The bottles in reserve wouldn't sit and rot in my stash drawer, ever.

My wallet is in a dangerous place after I rediscovered Liah Yoo, who also introduced me to the Gothamist on YouTube. Their skincare philosophies and expertise can be pretty convincing. RenĂ©e recently raved about the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for the cooler drier weather and, what else is new, I found myself swimming in coupons and sales again. The entire CeraVe line was on a 25% off sale that week, I had a $2 off $10 CeraVe purchase coupon at CVS, and I remembered the $2 coupon on CeraVe's website. To top of all off, I also had $3 CVS ExtraBucks. A $13.99 purchase became a $3.80 steal.

Maybe acne patches will make a yearly appearance in my haul posts? As with last year, my Aunt stocked up on the dressings when she visited China. I honestly still haven't gone through the stash from her last trip but it never hurts to have these on hand. When the sticker work, it works so well.