Thursday, June 14, 2018

Glossier Lash Slick: My Platonic Mascara?

Disclaimer: I bought this product with store credit earned through my Glossier affiliate link (thank you to those who have clicked on it!). I am not a Glossier rep.

Glossier has existed for three and a half years, and I've been searching for the perfect subtle mascara for almost that long: that is, ever since CoverGirl LashBlast Length got discontinued.  I figured that if anyone could make a good no-mascara mascara, it would be Glossier, since they seemed intent on perfecting the negative version of every category of makeup (no-lipstick lipstick, no-foundation foundation...). So when they finally announced the debut of Lash Slick about six weeks ago, I was very excited. Of course, that was shortly after I discovered Wet n Wild MegaLength, which gave me a lash pretty close to my ideal; my only complaints were that the formula was on the watery side and took a while to dry. Would Lash Slick give me my desired length and subtlety with a drier texture? I couldn't wait to find out, and ordered it about a month ago. I've worn it almost every day since, which tells you something.

As I mentioned in my MegaLength post, I'm reluctant to pay more than drugstore prices for a product as short-lived as mascara, and Lash Slick is $16. I probably would have ordered it even without store credit, given the difficulty I've had in finding a good subtle mascara, but the price point is a little steep for my usual taste. That said, Lash Slick is cheaper than other mascaras from mid-priced brands: Too Faced Better than Sex is $23, while Benefit Roller Lash, MAC Haute and Naughty, and Urban Decay Perversion are all $24. Lash Slick gives you 0.29 oz. of product compared to Benefit's 0.3 and Urban Decay's 0.4, so it's a comparable size for significantly less money. I'm really pleased about this, given Glossier's record of charging mid-range prices for deluxe-sample-sized products (looking at you, Generation G).

Glossier describes Lash Slick as "the perfect everyday mascara," water-resistant but not waterproof. It "curls and sculpts as it lengthens, enhancing the look of your natural lashes instead of clumping them together or spackling them in product." This effect is the result of "teeny-tiny fibers [that] coat lashes from root to tip to create a lengthened baby-extension, while flexible film-forming polymers lift and lock each fiber into place." (Indeed, the Lash Slick box advertises its contents as "film form mascara," whatever that's supposed to mean.) In other words, this is a fiber mascara that's made to look subtle but still deliver the look of "lengthening baby-extension[s]," a phrase that, like much of Glossier's copy, could have used some editing for clarity. Awkward wording aside, that description sounded promising, given my taste in mascara.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Lash Slick tube thicker and heavier than other Glossier packaging I'd encountered. Here's Lash Slick between a Lidstar eyeshadow (left) and a Generation G lipstick:

Lash Slick is a little bulkier than Wet n Wild MegaLength, though at least it doesn't bulge out in the middle like other mascaras I've tried. It slides nicely into the glass jar I reserve for mascara, eyeliner, and stick/liquid eyeshadows.

The Lash Stick brush is long and straight, with short, densely packed bristles:

Note that there's a perfect amount of product on the bristles. As Renee pointed out, there's a really good stopper in this tube. I wish the Boy Brow tubes had equally good stoppers; I hate getting too much product on the brush and having to wipe it awkwardly on the lip of the tube.

By contrast, the MegaLength wand is shorter and slightly convex, with more space between the bristles. Also, whereas the Lash Slick bristles are staggered, the MegaLength bristles are lined up in vertical columns:

Lash Slick comes in just one color: black. While that certainly simplifies the decision process and spares me the usual stress of having to choose between "Black," "Black Black," "Blackest Black," and "Noir Black," I find it odd that Glossier doesn't offer any other shades. Boy Brow debuted in black, brown, and blonde, and you'd think Lash Slick would offer a similar range.

I don't find mascara reviews very helpful without direct comparisons, so I spent a day wearing Lash Slick on one eye and MegaLength on the other. First, here are my lashes without mascara. They're decently thick, but the tips are so light as to be almost invisible, which is why I prefer lengthening to volumizing mascara.

And here's Megalength on my right eye (your left) and Lash Slick on my left eye (your right):

Obviously, MegaLength is darker and more dramatic (I have the darkest shade, Very Black), and at least in this photo, it seems to have done a better job of lengthening. However, when you look more closely at the Wet n Wild eye, you notice that some of the lashes are clumping together or bending in strange ways. (Ordinarily when I wear MegaLength, I use a clean spoolie to separate and straighten out my lashes.)

And here's a closer view of Lash Slick. You can see here that it's lengthened my lashes just as much as MegaLength has, but without sticking them together. Only one lash looks a bit wonky:

Here are my closed eyes. MegaLength has left some flecks of product in my crease, which often happens because the formula takes a minute or two to dry. Lash Slick has a much drier formula.

And a full face. Again, Wet n Wild on your left, Glossier on your right:

My lipstick is MAC D for Danger, which I still need to review, damn it.

Glossier claims that Lash Slick lasts all day and comes off easily, and I've found both of those claims to be true. It does start to flake off in tiny fibers around the eight-hour mark, but it holds up almost perfectly until then, and I can attest that it stands up to sweaty workouts, 100% humidity, and long crying sessions. (Sidenote: what do you call the crisis between quarter- and midlife crises?) I had some trepidation about the concept of a fiber mascara (a phrase that evoked nightmare visions of Younique spider lashes), but Lash Slick is pretty similar to other mascaras, including MegaLength, in the way it comes off. (MegaLength has about the same wear time, though it's less resistant to sweat/tears/Jersey humidity.) Here's Lash Slick looking pretty rough after 11 hours, but I have yet to find a lengthening mascara that doesn't look like thisor worseafter 11 hours.

MegaLength reaches a similar level of flakiness after just six and a half hours (granted, the flakes are smaller):

And here is where I set aside my usual Glossier snark, because Lash Slick is really fucking great. A+. 4.98/5. It's not only the best Glossier product I've ever tried, but also the best mascara I've ever tried. It's just about perfect, and you know how much it pains me to say that about a Glossier product. Now all Glossier needs to do is expand Lash Slick's shade range, and we'll be all set. For now, if you're looking for a subtle mascara that lengthens and separates lashes, look no further: you've found it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Visit to the Glossier Showroom

I've fallen behind on my promised Glossier reviews (surprising no one, I'm sure), but here's the first of two Glossier-centric posts that I hope will make up for my dereliction. I've been testing Glossier's new mascara, Lash Slick, for the past month, and I finally set foot in the Glossier ~*~showroom~*~ earlier this week. This post will be an account of my time in the showroom, and I'll review Lash Slick later this week. I promise!

It's behind glass because it's a SHOWROOM, GET IT?

The Glossier showroom started as a pop-up shop, but became a permanent fixture in NYC's trendy Soho neighborhood at the end of 2016. Despite my fairly frequent visits to New York, I always found an excuse not to see the Glossier mothership. First, I almost never go to Soho, because I'm not a teenage model, a fashion journalist, or a trust-fund "DJ/actress." Second, I suspected that the showroom experiencebecause everything is an experience these dayswould entail close quarters with aggressively friendly employees, and nothing triggers my social anxiety like attentive salespeople. I like my shopping excursions to be as anonymous as possible, thanks; I hate when capitalism disguises itself as friendship. (Yes, I'm tons of fun at parties!) Third, I'd used store credit to buy almost all the Glossier products I wanted, and I wasn't terribly interested in swatching what remained. This week, though, curiosity got the better of me. If any beauty brand has succeeded in capturing the millennial zeitgeist, it's Glossier; wasn't it my duty as a still-youngish beauty blogger to enter the blush-pink womb?

The showroom is located on Lafayette Street, right at the border of Soho and Chinatown. It's a great shopping area even if you don't have much money (though especially if you do). After browsing Muji (neon gel pens!), Blick Art Supplies (will I never find a water-soluble pen for my embroidery?), and a little covered market featuring local artists/crafters/cheesemongers, I headed toward the brownstone that houses Glossier:

When I walked in, a young woman in a pink jumpsuit asked if I was there for the showroom, then pointed me toward the elevator and directed me to the penthouse level (eyeroll, I know, but the elevator button literally says "PH," so I can't blame Glossier for that). I hope the showroom employees trade off this doubtless annoying task! Riding up to the fourth floor with a few tourists, I noticed that the elevator was scented. I texted my boyfriend about this and he replied, "May your experience be carefully curated."

I arrived at 12:30, just 30 minutes after the showroom opened, but it was already bustling with customers. I can only imagine how hot and crowded the small room gets on weekend afternoons (Yelp reviews confirm my suspicions), and I'd strongly recommend visiting as close to opening time as possible. The space was pretty much what I'd expected: well-lit, painted floor-to-ceiling in millennial pink, perfumed with Byredo Burning Rose candles, and crammed with glass-encased product displays and tables for swatching and sniffing.

Right in front of the elevator is an alcove that conveys a decidedly vaporwave aesthetic:

I was a little disappointed to find that the flowers were fake, though I suppose installing fresh orchids every morning would be beyond even Glossier's budget. Frankly, there was something comforting about seeing the seams behind the tapestry: the fake roses, the scuffs and fingerprints on the pink paint, the wear and tear that New York pollution and foot traffic inflict on the most carefully arranged spaces. I also appreciated the large sink in the corner: it was nice to be able to wash off all the swatches and the ambient grime of the city.

Glossier's other concessions to uninstagrammable reality include plenty of benches where bored husbands, boyfriends, and fathers can sit and check Twitter:

The non-dad clientele was predictably young, though even younger than I'd anticipated: lots of women in their late teens and early twenties, with the occasional set of parents. The pink-jumpsuited employeeswho are unaccountably called "editors"reflected the customer demographics: not a single salesperson looked over 25. Not for the first time, I wondered about the curious discrepancy between Into the Gloss readers and Glossier customers. I've been reading ITG almost since its inception, and I'd estimate that the average ITG reader is around my age (i.e. an older millennial, now in her late twenties or early thirties). But Glossier targets a younger, less beauty-savvy customer. If you've been reading ITG for years, you probably don't need a starter sunscreen and moisturizer, yet that's exactly what Glossier offers. Which is not to say that people my age and older can't enjoy Glossier's offerings: my favorite makeup look is no-makeup makeup with a bold lip, and Glossier provides everything for that look except the bold lip. But a glance around the showroom made it very clear on which age group Glossier's branding is most effective.

Speaking of employees (sorry, editors), there were a lot of them. Like, possibly too many. Their main task is to ring up customers on the iPads that they carry in the back pockets of their jumpsuits, but most of them seemed to have nothing to do but hang out and chat with each other. I understand that their youthful pastel presence is part of the ambience, and that the showroom is often much busier than it was that day, but I don't think I've ever been in a store with so many salespeople per customer. To their credit, they were not at all pushy; in fact, I felt that I was interrupting their conversations by asking for help. A customer experience somewhere between those two extremes would have been nice.

Despite my assumption going in that I had all the Glossier makeup I wanted, a swatching session determined that Lidstar in Lily and Generation G in Like would have to come home with me.

The green swatch is Lidstar in Herb, which looked very patchy. Would not recommend. Lily is more purple and sparkly in person!

Actually buying these items, however, turned out to be surprisingly complicated. I approached one of the employees and asked if I could use my store credit toward my purchase. She told me that there was no easy way to do that: I'd have to get out my phone, log in to my Glossier account, order the items, specify that I wanted store pickup, actually enter the showroom's address just to make sure, and place the order, which she would then fetch for me. Couldn't be simpler! I did all this, but of course I'd forgotten my Glossier password and had to reset it, and the whole process ended up taking several minutes. Considering that a huge part of Glossier's appeal is the affiliate link they give to every new customer, it's bizarre that the showroom hasn't worked out a smoother system for applying store credit to in-person purchases, especially after one and a half years in business.

After completing my purchase, I took the elevator back to the ground floor, feeling that I'd spent a pleasant, if unremarkable, 20 minutes. Would I recommend the showroom to a visitor to NYC? Maybe. If your main purpose in going there is to try Glossier products in person before forking over $18 for a liquid eyeshadow or tiny lipstick, then knock yourself out. But if you're mainly curious about the customer experience that the Glossier wizards have conjured up, I'm not sure you'll come away enchanted. Some things just look better on Instagram.