Tools don’t ALWAYS get the job done.

Don’t get me wrong — I learned that the right brush is dang important for certain makeup jobs, especially eye-related tasks.  But give me a break!

I subscribe to Nordstrom’s marketing emails, and they recently sent out a blast about all the Nordstrom beauty exclusives they had coming up in their sale.  Being the beauty junkie that I am, I glanced and spotted this baby — the Smokey Eye Brush.

Now, what gal isn’t gonna be drawn by that title?  I mean, smokey eyes are a) hot, and b) difficult to pull off.  (Creating them, I mean — pulling them off looks-wise is just a matter of confidence and perhaps candlelight.  And, uh, context.)

I’ve always struggled with smokier shades, because the super-dark, super-pigmented shadows I use like Cargo Qatar are tricky since they show every mistake.  So I thought Trish here might be helping me out, and I sucked it up and paid the steep $52 for just one brush — after all, I needed to qualify for free shipping with another purchase.

Well guess what, ladies?  This brush is BULL.  It a) doesn’t fit the size of my eye (too short), b) doesn’t fit the shape of my eye (too symmetrical), and c) doesn’t feel all that great or retain powder properly in order to help achieve that elusively easy smokey look the ad copy boasts.

Thank goodness Nordstrom has a great return policy.

Cargo Qatar shadow — best of 2008!

Gosh, it’s been AGES since my last post!  Everything from flying out east to being snowed in and no updates.  Well, beautyphiles, here’s my year-end summary:  The very best product I discovered in 2008 was Cargo‘s Qatar eye shadow.*

Yep, nothing more than one tiny pan in the most basic of basic colors: black.  But you must understand, this shadow is the PERFECT black.  It’s incredibly finely milled, totally matte, highly pigmented, and just generally smoother and better to apply and longer-lasting than any black shadow (or liner, for that matter) that I’ve ever found.  Prior blacks I’ve tried out have always felt scratchy and uneven and not finely milled enough and not pigmented enough, so this was a great discovery.

The only downsides to this baby are that a) it can require very precise application lest you wind up looking like you were in a bar fight; b) it really gets deep into brushes and requires that you clean them right away if you don’t want every single shadow you subsequently apply with that brush to look like a hardcore nighttime-only smoky eye, and c) I think it got discontinued. (Plus the metal case sticks to other magnetized cases in my makeup collection — not really complaint-worthy, but kind of amusing!)

Hey, this one pan will probably last me the rest of my life, it’s so dang potent!  So I’m not really worried about the discontinued factor.  It doesn’t contain a perfectly natural list of ingredients, but that’s no longer a requirement of mine for eye shadows. And for more day-to-day use, it’s fabulous to layer on top of a normal shadow shade to deepen it a bit, and this method is also much more forgiving if you have a non-makeup-artist’s touch and need to blend or shape a bit after the initial application.

So if you’re looking for the perfect über-smoky harlot shade that also doubles as an everyday oomph-ifier and a powder liner, look no further!  You may have trouble tracking it down, but discount shops/websites and swap sites like MUA are your friend here, and it still seems to be available on EDS.  Or heck, make me an offer and *maybe* I’ll part with it once my smoky-eyed years run out on me!

* And the best part is, I didn’t even pay for it!  I got this shadow for free in a Makeup Alley swap.