An Ode to Drugstore Mascara

Don’t worry, this isn’t a poem, but the gravity of the sentiment is indeed poetic. I don’t care how many enemies or potentially #sponsored moments I may be at risk of sacrificing, it must be said: 

Fuck. Fancy. Mascara.

And so it has been written. Can we all breathe a collective sigh of relief? Can I get an Amen, or even an ehem?

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Like many of the aesthetically inclined, I dedicated months if not years of my life in pursuit of the mascara. There were many aspects to consider. Black or brown? Volumizing or lengthening... or both? (Is there a both?) Waterproof or not? Organic or chemical-laden? The countless options and marketing promises began to feel like a conspiracy to keep me suckling at the teat of the beauty economy, and I spent quite a pretty penny in my misguided quest. I read all the Glossier interviews for the occasional honorable mention. I deferred to influencers for their recommendations, only to discover that they’re seals of approval were most certainly for hire.

My initial aversion to drugstore (re: cheap) mascara was twofold. For starters, it felt infantile. The first mascara I ever used was my mom’s Maybelline of the pink and green variety (Great Lash). Blame it on the emotional trauma of middle school or a new formulation, but it just didn’t look as good over a decade later. Furthermore, something about my eye area, be it my lashes or the skin, had changed. In my late 20s, my peepers had become product-averse, and try as I might, my mascara and eyeliner would assume the role of blush by lunchtime. So, I sipped the big brand KoolAid and spread open my wallet. Take me, Dior! Give it to me, Bobbi Brown! More, Nars! More! I hopped from tube to tube, feeling even more used and bamboozled with every flick of my wand. 

And then, on a fateful trip to Paris, I found myself in the cosmetics section of the supermarché with my mother. “Grab me some mascara for me, will you? The one with the silver top,” she asked. I dutifully obliged, and found myself browsing the selection. Leave it to the French to make a supermarket mascara display look tempting. For myself, I settled on an orange-topped L’Oréal that promised “MEGA VOLUME” (yes, caps and all) with a “Hippie” aesthetic. D’accord!

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That was the day I opened my eyes to the world to cheap mascara, and I never looked back. No more racoon eyes come midday, and a non-waterproof formulation meant far fewer lash casualties upon removal. And the volume… the volume! Sure, there was a bit of a clumping issue towards the end of the tube, but at less than €8 each, I could just pop open a new one. Quel bonheur! 

Now, I must digress for a moment and admit that my mascara make-over happened to coincide with a skin care overhaul that was not nearly as economizing (Biologique Recherche, anyone?), which most likely helped with the midday-melt factor. Whatever the case, in my now Bambi-esque eyes, I had officially attained this particular holy grail.

Needless to say, the frantic, last-minute trips to stock up on my trips to Paris became tiresome, but I didn’t trust the American market (or the FDA) to provide an adequate replacement. That is until I went to my grandmother’s Long Island home one afternoon... Now, get ready for a waterproof apropos moment. I was at her home that day for the tragic reason that she had recently passed, and my mother and I had been charged with tending to her personal effects. As I delicately fingered my way through her make-up tray, I came across a Revlon tube with a blue-ish periwinkle top. I put it on more out of nostalgia than anything else. Today, it’s the only formulation I use, and now that I live in Paris, my first stop back in the States is the nearest CVS.

Now, I could have bypassed the entire mascara saga, had I opted for extensions. Mais non. Hors de la question! Le hard pass. Much like boujee mascara, this beauty trend is more hype than hot. First of all, the mere idea of having something glued on or near my eyeballs is a little too Clockwork Orange for my tastes, thanks. The upkeep is also insane, and the look is... too put it very gently, not exactly discrete. WE SEE YOU. And as Anna aptly noted in a text thread about the very subject, lash extensions are essentially acrylics for your eyes. So, do with that comparison what you will, but if you don’t have the chutzpah to put them on your fingers à la Lana del Rey, best refrain from the ocular equivalent, sweet pea.

Honestly ladies (and gents), stop bambi-ing the fuck about. Unless you’re rocking a full 60s glam vibe, there is no reason for your eyelids to look like the hairier end of a pair of Gucci slides. Your lashes need not appear habitable to lice. I fear that in the future, the cartoon doe-eyed look will go the way of over-plucked eyebrows and body glitter. I beg you not to become a statistic. However, if are looking to up your lashes game beyond mascara and into the realm of more lasting effects, Anna swears by the ole’ lift and tint.

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If God Doesn’t Exist, Explain Tabitha’s Hair

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Physical Discourse. Physical, as in relating to the body versus the mind. Discourse, as in written or spoken communication or debate.  Put them together and you get a cheeky forum exploring the uncharted terrain of “new beauty.” What in the lovely fuck is new beauty, you might ask.

new beauty

noun

  1. A movement in aesthetics culture, liberated from outdated, negative connotations like vanity and narcissism. Beauty culture as a vehicle of self-expression, conversation, self-care, and pleasure.

  2. The disruption of white-lady-with-an-orchid-poster spa culture and beauty culture in general. 

And because we know the last thing you need in your lives is another beauty blog with 15-step skincare routines and overly curated home tours, we’ve decided to serve up less, dare we say, shallow content with an extra side of sass. 

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I’m your host, Julia Reiss. My likes include ankle boots and foie gras. Dislikes: white pepper and French manicures. I met Ricari founder and human fairy, Anna Zahn, on a fortuitous day in Los Angeles when I booked myself a session at her hideaway of a studio in Beverly Hills. As the stars would have it, we are both hardcore Virgos and fluent GIF speakers. We also happen to share the same irreverent approach to cultural convention and beauty norms. We quickly established a certain ride-or-die relationship status and today, we’re making it Internet official, as Anna has bestowed upon me the great honor of spearheading Physical Discourse.

So, without any further ado...

If God Doesn’t Exist, Explain Tabitha’s Hair

words by Julia Reiss

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In case you weren’t aware, we are currently living in the second week A.S. That’s two weeks after Succession. Two weeks without a satisfyingly baritone “fuck off” from the man, myth, and legend himself, Logan Roy. Two weeks sans Gerri’s eyebrows. (Did you know they have a Twitter account?)  But what I miss most, more than Kendall’s figurative fuckery and Roman’s literal wanking, is Tabitha’s hair. 

If you’re not a Succession fan (how dare you?!), this topic may seem like a rather rogue inaugural subject to kick off Physical Discourse. However this show and its characters style has struck many a cultural nerve, especially in these economically disparate times of ours. There is something subversively subtle about the discrete manner of dress of the billionaire set and their entourage. It’s like a secret language of expertly ironed poplin and side parts, with nary a synthetic fiber nor the obvious use of dermal filler in sight. Tabitha’s flaxen nest of sexy spirals may help us crack the code, for she is a relative outsider to the Roy family and their fuck-you wealth. 

Let it be known that not since a certain well-heeled woman by the surname Bradshaw has such an iconic head of golden tresses graced cable television. Tabitha’s borderline-1970s coiffe has made me miss my pre-Keratin locks, but I’m no fool. My kinky half-Jew fro could never attain the mid-to-large size barrel curls, which bear a texture I imagine can only be rivaled by dolphin skin, that grace the skull of Roman’s harlot-turned-almost housewife. And I cannot for the life of me understand why more people aren’t talking about them and instead worry themselves with pseudo “cleanses” and the nuances of eye cream.

For those of you, who for some unimaginable and surely blasphemous reason, have not been attending Sunday mass at the Home Box Office at precisely 9PM EST, Tabitha is played by Caitlin FitzGerald, previously of Masters of Sex. (Should you feel tempted to convert to the Church of Roy, get thee an HBO Now subscription stat, throw on a face mask, and get ready for a PMS-level binge, but with less sodium.)

Now, I don’t care if her Succession character’s plotline is (spoiler alert) that she blew Tom and made him swallow his own, ahem... cum. Before you let that cum reference leave a bad taste in your mouth (LOL), you should know that FitzGerald has impressive track record for breathing life into sexually empowered female characters. Fun fact: she wrote about precisely that for Glamour, and there’s nothing we love more than a fellow woman addressing gendered taboos. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, Tabitha’s true claim to fame, and a co-star worthy of its own credit, is the hair on her head she wears like a goddamned crown. In a beauty landscape currently dominated by the sleek and girly Kaia Gerber bob, there is something deliciously insolent and womanly about Tabitha’s voluminous halo of tousled curls.  

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It perhaps goes without saying that I Googled the fuck out of the subject. It would appear that IRL Tabitha (FitzGerlad) does appear to be follicularly blessed with a thick golden mane, but not with the bouncing, swooping, angelic spirals she dons on the show. Of course not. Succession is, afterall, not real life (for 99% percent of us, at least) and this kind of do simply could not be maintained during an average day in the life of a mere pleb. Us normies have to battle with things like, I don’t know... humidity? Sweat? An occasional strong gust of wind? This kind of texture is like a five-inch stiletto, it requires a car-to-carpet lifestyle. In fact, I’m convinced Tabitha’s silky, frizz-free volume actually sustains itself upon the affections and loyalty of her billionaire boyfriend, Roman Roy. 

It is only fitting that Tabitha’s hair should enter the public consciousness and assume its iconic status when the cultural conversation regarding women’s sexual liberation has reached its hot and sweaty simmer. Her hair, much like her character, oozes independence and I-do-what-I-fucking-want-ness. Where as her SATC predecessor may have gotten her sexual groove on, it’s hard to ignore the fact that emotionally, she was always a slave to her deep-pocketed beau, Mr. Big. Conversely, Tabitha seems not a singular fig about whether Roman wants to lock it down, and she doesn’t indulge his sexual deviencies at the expense of her own personal boundaries either. Tabitha is remarkably indifferent to the perks of fucking into wealth. She doesn’t pine or worship, but that’s not to say she’s heartless either. You can tell she really sees something in her broken manchild of a partner, and her affections are sincere but not to the point of rendering her into a doormat. Tabitha’s unapologetically seductive tresses flow as an extension of her take-it-or-leave it, independently fabulous attitude. They exude a certain joie de vivre, and I am here for it.

For us peasants, this all begs the question, what styling magic, what deep-conditioning sorcery is being used on the Succession set to get FitzGerald through a day of shooting? Do I DM Adam McKay to find out? Feel free to comment below with any leads. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go order a curling iron on Amazon, before I defer to these Ricari recommended hair-y godmothers.