Sunday, 16 February 2014

Is L'Oreal's Miss Manga mascara really that good?

L'Oreal Paris isn't the first brand I think of when it comes to cultural tie-ins. It's normally OPI or MAC who link their products to the world beyond our dressing tables. LP's new mascara, namechecking the world of Japanese animation, is designed to grant you cartoonishly exaggerated lashes.OK it's not exactly a cutting-edge reference - manga's been popular in the West since last century - but it gets points for originality none the less.

Personally, the last manga I watched was this:

If L'Oreal can give me the power to pop the heads of my enemies like grapes or lacerate them into neat slices with a blade so sharp it's invisible, that'll be good for £8.99. 

But I think what they have in mind is something more like:

Giant eyes. Giant, giant, cute eyes. And possibly a nose reduced to the size of a peanut.

The mascara comes in black, blue and purple. Tempting though the bright colours were, I thought I'd review the black, since that's what 98% of people will actually wear with any regularity.

The tube is chunky and angular, yet smoothly curved, like the body of a CLS-Class coupe. But it's not as luxurious as a Merc - it's pretty plasticky to handle, though solid enough. The lid is metallic pink, and the body is black.

The brush is cone-shaped, and made of traditional fibrous bristles, rather than plastic prongs. It's medium-sized. Not too unwieldy for smaller eyes. Beefy enough to cover abundant lashes well.

The one snag-point for me was the bendy nature of the wand itself. It has a rubbery juncture halfway up that allows the brush to bend back if you push on it. Theoretically this helps avoid poking yourself in the eye, but I found it created a handling experience that was all out of whack with other mascaras. Good UX is all about building on the expectations users have of a thing - not rewriting the rule-book completely. For me, this is bad UX, because it forces me to abandon, or at least modify, my usual application method in a frustrating and laborious way. Are you listening L'Oreal Paris? BAD UX.

But what about results?

Fig 1. Wimpy, naked lashes.
Fig 2. Lashes with one coat of Miss Manga mascara. (Note clumsy eyelid smudge caused by BAD UX.)
This is a wet, very black formula. I was impressed by the effect I got from a single coat. As you can see from the pictures, it definitely makes your lashes look thicker, blacker and more prominent, without the need to build up several coats. Whether this capability persists once the mascara dries out a little remains to be seen, but for fresh-tube performance I can't fault this. 

I didn't experience any flaking or smudging - faults that can crop up with cheaper mascaras at times. And removal was pretty standard. Bioderma + cotton wool put paid to it easily.

TL;DR this is a great budget mascara, with a weird bendy wand, and somewhat cheap packaging.

It's £8.99 at Boots and Superdrug.

Today's blogging soundtrack is: Narcicyst - Iraqi Prime Time News

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