Review: L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in ‘Extra Black’

The Beauty ‘guru’ bloggersphere has been awash for years with recounts of the wonderful L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black – a particular favourite of Makeup Geek founder, Marlena. However, is it as good as all that?

The mascara is one of the cheaper ones in L’Oreal’s range, which is appealing in and of itself as L’Oreal tends to be slightly ‘up there’ in terms of high street prices. It retails at £8.49, a good few pounds cheaper than others in the range, though obviously still more expensive than other drugstore products. It also features an old-school mascara wand, with bristles. Now, preference dominates here – personally, I don’t feel especially strongly about which type of mascara wand I prefer. My criteria for a mascara is that I want it to give me more volume, make my lashes darker and I want it to be easy to remove at the end of the day. I refuse to ‘build’ mascara – because who has time? – and frankly, I have never found one that can deal with more than one or maybe two initial coats without getting clumpy. This is no exception.

Despite the cheap price tag, and the potentially favourable return to the old-school bristle brush, the main problem with this formula is that it is too wet. This always seems like a silly complaint, but what it actually means is that I can never put it on my eyelashes without also getting it in my eyebrows. Which is a more of a statement than I really want. Furthermore, the wet formula lends itself to becoming easily clumpy, as eyelashes stick together and ‘clots’ (ew) form in the mascara itself. This all means that you have to be pretty careful actually applying the mascara, which irritates me as I really don’t like to spend much time fussing over my make up. Comparatively, I think I prefer the L’Oreal Volume Million Mascara, which has a plastic wand and is not nearly as wet – and as such, it doesn’t clump.

I will say, however, that in the few weeks that I have been using this mascara, it has improved. It is clearly going to be one of those mascaras that gets better with age (if only that were true for all of us!). On the one hand, this is frustrating as you are not getting the best product at time of purchase, on the other hand, this kind of extends the longevity of the mascara – but only if you are willing to dismiss, or take with a generous helping of salt, the recommended three month deadline.

Despite my reservations with this product, I have had compliments – which is unusual. As a glasses wearer, people very rarely comment on my eyelashes/makeup at all, so it must be doing something right, right? I certainly notice that it does give me volume now – it didn’t initially – but now that it has dried slightly it does, and I do enjoy this effect as my lashes are pretty long naturally and any more length lends them a little to spidery for my tastes.

Finally, a trite observation, but it is a very nice shade of black – my tube is ‘Extra Black’ rather than ‘Carbon Black’ which is often attributed to this mascara – it doe not come across as grey or wishy-washy, which is important.

Overall, I’m still on the fence. I would definitely buy it again as it is pretty affordable and does work well eventually. However, this is a far cry from achieving the ‘holy grail’ status some people attribute it too – but we’re all different, I suppose.

This product is available from Boots/Superdrug for £8.49


January Favourites

January favourites – because why not?

Vintage fairs
They seem to be back in force at the moment, I imagine the burgeoning hope of spring has bought them out. I went to one the other week with my sister and we had so much fun. I think that going to things like vintage fairs – for me, anyway – are about the act of going rather than actually buying anything. Although we did make a few purchases, the best part was simply being there with my sister  – and perhaps, the cake we had for lunch.

I completed my challenges of last month – went to a yoga class and a ballroom dance class. Unfortunately I haven’t had chance to go back to either, but I think that is something I’ll work on this month. Don’t know if I’ll make it back to the dance class though – I felt as if they only really wanted serious people there, and I would not want to do it seriously: only for fun. Unfortunately I feel like most ballroom classes for people not wishing to take it seriously seem to be for the 60+ group. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do on that front.

Loving Beanies at the moment. The winter essential for when you need to wash your hair!

EkhartYoga Gratitude Challenge
This isn’t a favourite of last month, but it’s something I’m trying this month. We’ll see how it goes!

L’Oreal Paris Eyeshadow in Pin Up Pink
Bought this on a whim (I don’t need more eye shadow!) and it’s really lovely. I’ve been really enjoying pink eye make up recently actually, as shown by my extra eye shadow in the picture above which is The Seventeen Eye Eye Rose Quartz in possibly the worst packaging ever, as it causes the shadow to shatter whenever you close it….

Lipiner plus clear gloss
I saw AmeliaLiana do this a while ago and I just started paying around with it. It’s a really nice way to get ‘custom’ lip glosses and another way to use lip liners, which I don’t tend to reach for on the whole and then they sit in my collection fr the next 5 years…until I throw them out.
My favourite in Janurary was the Rimmel 1000 Kisses lipliner in East End Snob (Ahem. I’ve had this for years….before the hype!) paired with any clear gloss, mine is Miss Sporty because it cost about £2. *shrugs*

TV Show: The Wrong Mans
I’ve been meaning to post a review of this. This is a really fun 6 part series. Unabashedly British, with gentle, ironic humour. Available on UK Netflix

Book: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherine M. Valente
I adore Catherine Valente, this whole Fairyland series is probably the best young fiction (aimed probably at 8-12 year olds) that has come out since Harry Potter. I love the way it engages with Fairy Lore, in a way which if you recognize it: great, if not: she;ll explain. I love the way the narrator is woven into the text. It’s absolutely phenomenal – read it no matter what age. The category of books for 8-12 year olds is really overlooked in favour of teen fiction but there is some great stuff.

Best Neutral Nails

I was going through my nail varnishes today, and realised that I had so many more neutral nail varnishes than I though. Oh. But at least it gave me an idea for a blog post.

Before we begin: none of these are Nails Inc’s ‘Porchester Square’, I actually don’t own that one because you can very easily get dupes for approximately £4. See below for details…

8. Ciate Iced Frappe
I’m actually not a huge fan of the Ciate formula, I find it chips easily. However, some of their colours are particularly lovely. Iced Frappe is another one similar to Porchester Square, though perhaps more difficult to get hold of. Some Ciate is available at Boots, but you may have to scout online or TK Maxx for it which is where I got mine as part of a set.
Full size available at ASOS for £9.00, some may still be available at TK Maxx

7. Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Almond
Here is your £4 dupe for Porchester Square. Don’t spend £14 on a polish, but this, spend the tenner else where and be glad.
Available at Boots and Superdrug for £3.99

6 Ciate Chinchilla
This is a mini which also came in the same set as Iced Frappe, and the next one on the list. It’s a lovely pale grey-blue. Very unique from anything else I’ve seen.
LookFantastic has it for £9

5 Ciate Pillow Fight
The last Ciate on the list! This one is my favourite colours, a beige purple. I’ve never seen anything like it and it looks stunning on the nails. I only wish the formula was more chip-resistant.
LookFantastic has the full size for £9

4 Maybelline Color Show in 288 Cool Touch
I do consider this a neutral, despite being a light grey rather than a brown base. I don’t love the Color Show formula, on the whole, and I find the polishes dry out really quickly. But I have uet to discover another light grey that I like this much.
Available from Boots for £3.99

3 Color Club Holographic in 980 Cherubic
This was inspired by Young Wild & Polished on YouTube. This is the most gorgeous holographic nude – I didn’t even know such a thing existed before this! You need it.
Available from Amazon for £8.45 (at time of posting)

2 Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Olive
Again, a move away from the brown-y nudes and into something different. This is one of my favourite nail varnishes EVER. The Barry M Gelly formula is perhaps the best formula ever, and this light olive is so beautiful – neutral but a little different. It was only bested to the top spot by one other…
Available at Boots and Superdrug for £3.99

1. Kiko 221
This is a light satin pink which I never in a million years thought I would wear as much as I have, but it is beautiful on the nails. Not too pink, nor too shimmery…just right. It makes you nails look long and elegant and beautiful., and that is why it’s may unexpected favourite of the bunch.
Available from Kiko for £3.90 (frequently on offer)

Review: The Wrong Mans

The Wrong Mans (BBC, 2013) is the brain child of James Cordon  (see: Gavin and Stacey) and Matthew Baynton, who you may recognize from The Horrible Histories (a great TV series for all ages).

The Wrong Mans is about Sam (Baynton) who finds himself witness to a car crash, in which he picks up a mobile phone which is not his own and finds himself embroiled in a criminal plot. Confiding in his colleague  – although he only works in the building – and ‘friend’ Phil (Corden), they decide to take care of it themselves rather than go to the police. Despite Sam’s intentions to do the right thing, the pair find themselves in over their heads and repeatedly in danger.


This series is charming, and really, can be put no other way. It is obviously taking the mickey of Television Crime Dramas (particularly American ones) and seems to function in a similar way to Simon Pegg and Nick’s Frost’s films, where the hapless duo blunder into situations they only ever make worse. Seemingly, a very British trope.

Baynton steals the show, Corden is good – he has a lot of coverage at the moment, and his career is really booming, however, in this I felt that Baynton as Sam was brilliant. Sam is a very likable character, if a bit of a wet blanket, but absolutely the voice of reason (voice of niceness, perhaps?) in the show. Phil on the other hand, is irritating – this is, of course, part of his character – and hyperbolic to the point of being unbelievable. This serves to put the emphasis back on Sam and Baynton’s performance, In short, not the best performance of Cordens’.

The use of humour in the series is what really stands out. The comedic undercutting of situations creates a very subtle comedy that is undeniably British.

One of the best example of this is perhaps the scene in the getaway car (one of many, to be fair. This is the second episode I think). They make their escape and dash to the car, Sam launching into the driver’s seat and Phil struggling with a stowed away criminal in the back, engaged in an all-out fist fight.

“I’ve never driven a manual before!”, Sam cries out in his undeniably southern English accent. The use of ‘manual’ creating an opposition with the traditional American ‘Stick shift’ showing the irony of these Berkshire Council members occupying this traditional American detective role. Also – how many people in the UK don’t drive a Manual? I feel the implication here is that Sam is unusual in his inability to drive manual as most cars in the UK are manual. It kind of implies privilege: Automatic Cars tend to be expensive as they are more difficult to buy secondhand.

The fast paced action within the car, the camera positioned where the windshield would be, shows the fight in the backseat and Sam erratically changing gears. The scene is fast paced. Cut to the outside of the car, side on. The car screeches and grinds, jerking with sudden movements at about 5 miles an hour. This juxtaposition, the use of the second shot to undercut the first seems reminiscent of traditional European comedy: seen in Lubitsch and other classical films. It is so fantastically British, that you can’t help but laugh. This comes across also in the repeated jokes about working at Berkshire County Council as a town planning adviser. The fact that it is Berkshire – a most unassuming county in the Thames Valley, where wealthy commuters live to work in London – adds to the ridiculousness of the events within the series. The humour in the series is fantastic. It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud when I am watching on my own: this did it.

The story line between Sam and his girlfriend was weak, and perhaps unnecessary. It didn’t really go anywhere, though perhaps you could argue this is part of the undercutting humour – despite the dramatic rescue at the end, the cliche attempt to save the damsel in distress, they still remain separated.

In fact, the whole final episode was a bit of a let down. From Phil’s mum (Dawn French) turning out to be an undercover agent, to Phil’s obvious trick which saves the day, to the way they rescue the green space from the corrupt politician and walk away from their jobs to become something else: it kind of missed the mark for me. I know they were trying to show a hyperbole of these typical crime thriller tropes, but it became to cliche and lacked the irony it needed to show that they were mocking these tropes.

The bottom line is that this is a really great series. It has six episodes at 30 minutes each; will take you less than a week to watch. It is a lovely, gentle chuckle and well worth a watch.

Available to watch on Netflix.