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Reviews

I Tried Out All Of Guide Beauty’s Products – Here’s My Review

With my years of medications for cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder, I have unfortunately developed tardive dyskinesia. In other words, my hands shake like no other; so, holding makeup and applying my essentials can be real f*cking difficult. Enter: Guide Beauty and their products made for people with disabilities – like my own tardive dyskinesia.

 
 
 
 
 
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I stumbled across Guide Beauty when looking for disability-friendly makeup products. The brand was one of the first to pop up, and I was immediately taken by how universal its design is. It solves so many struggles when it comes to applying the basics.

I added to cart, tagged them in my order, and two weeks later: my own kit of products came in.

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About Guide Beauty

 
 
 
 
 
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Guide Beauty was founded when superstar makeup artist and beauty educator Terri Bryant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She began living what her friends and clients had said – that application was hard, especially when dealing with shaking hands and a lack of precision.

Guide was Bryant’s solution: a beauty brand that made makeup accessible to everyone.

 
 
 
 
 
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Listening to the most pressing issues, Bryant and her team worked hard to come up with an ergonomic design for holding, making application a breeze. At the same time, she and her team worked tirelessly to create cruelty-free, vegan, and clean formulas. None of that harsh, toxic s*it on an ableist wand – just accessible beauty at its finest.

The result of active listening: a mascara wand that has grips and a jet-black formula; a brow gel that fills in and shapes effortlessly with an easy-to-hold handle; and an eyeliner combo, consisting of gel in a pot and an ergonomic applicator. (Hard to describe, I’ll show you below!)


My Review of Guide Beauty

Hey, what up, I’m Tess, and my body sucks.

tess sending peace sign to camera without makeup on

Therefore, this is my brutally honest review of Guide Beauty and its products. I ordered every single product, even though I really only needed the eyeliner applicator. You know, for science, definitely not because I’m obsessed with supporting brands that believe in accessibility.

The packaging is GORGEOUS, and it comes with a cute note from Terri!letter from guide beauty's terri bryant

I love the look of each product. The color is rich, and the hardware is a gorgeous complement. It doesn’t feel gaudy, instead looking chic and sleek.

The first thing I tried: the Guide Beauty Eyeliner Duo.

The pot is cute, and the black is super pigmented. However, it catches the light, so I know it won’t be oddly matte against my lids. The applicator is a little odd and almost intimidating, but Guide is thorough in their instructions.

applicator of guide beauty's eyeliner applicator applicator of guide beauty's eyeliner applicator

So, I glided my applicator through the gel, grasped it, and drew a line… with ease? As if my hands didn’t shake??

The result: a highly-pigmented, jet-black, strong line and cute wing. And no awkward irritation or build-up! It’s just a perfect line without excess gel or mistakes you can’t fix.tess wearing eyeliner on one eye

Happy with the result, I moved on to my brows.

I have pretty iffy brows, ruined by years of filling in, yanking, rinsing and repeating every day. They’re fairly strong closest to my nose, but they taper out weakly at the ends. Because of this, I’m always looking for good brow gels.

The handle for Guide Beauty’s brow gel has a protruding handle, giving you a natural space to rest your fingers and grip the applicator.

brow moment guide beauty review

I like how I don’t have to awkwardly twist my wrist in order to fill in both brows (I’m not ambidextrous). The handle makes it easy to grasp the brush and give yourself an even coat.

I can’t think of the last time a brow gel looked this good on me, but I’m obsessed. I have arches! I have strong eyebrows from nose to temples! I have color, so you don’t see peeks of skin! The formula is soft and easy to wipe should you get a little too crazy with the filling.

tess with guide beauty brow moment on one eyebrow

Finally: Guide’s mascara!

The color is pitch black, which I love, because my lashes are so light. I’m always wanting a doe-eyed look courtesy of my mascara, and few succeed. Guide, however? Their mascara is flawless. I have fairly sensitive eyes, and this mascara didn’t bother me one bit – even when I accidentally blinked some into my eyes.

Put it all together, and this is the final look!

tess full face of makeup


My Summary of Guide

Even if you’re perfectly able, you will love Guide Beauty’s products. Like I said, I didn’t need them for my lashes or brows, yet I don’t think I’ll ever find a more comfortable brand. The products are convenient, the formula is solid, and you’re supporting an amazing cause.

I can’t refrain: I give Guide Beauty’s kit a 10/10, because the price tag is absolutely worth it. Can’t recommend enough. I love it, and you will too. Thanks, Terri, for creating a product that makes my eyelids look flawless again. Beyond grateful.

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I hope you liked my review of Guide Beauty! Have you tried Guide? What are your thoughts? Share below!


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Categories
Reviews

Op-Ed Analysis: Frank N Furter Is An LGBTQ+, BPD Icon

Hi, I’m Tess, and I watched Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time. And, Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank N Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show is officially my favorite, misunderstood, LGBTQ+ icon; in this analysis, I will…

All jokes aside, it’s true. Frank N. Furter caused fear amongst the straight and cis world in 1975. Rocky Horror Picture Show was confusing – and it still kinda is, don’t get me wrong – but the LGBTQ+ controversy stemmed from a male actor wearing, gasp, women’s clothes and makeup, singing about being a proud transsexual. The HORROR. (Pun fully intended.)

frank n furter on throne fully dressed up

Frank N Furter is a flawed character, to put it lightly. In fact, many argue that he is the problem in the movie. And he did indeed cause problems.

But in my humble opinion, Frank N. Furter was a misunderstood LGBTQ+ person who hid behind a manipulative ego and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. And as an LGBTQ+ person with borderline personality disorder, I will grab this hot take with everything in me. 

Here’s how I got to this conclusion that is totally speculative, because I am not a doctor and am just having fun. Don’t take it too seriously, k? (Frank’s face below says it all about even needing this disclaimer.)

frank n furter looking curious and frustrated

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The Obvious LGBTQ+ Affiliations

frank n furter and rocky, which added to the lgbtq controversy

The controversy behind Rocky Horror Picture Show laid in many elements, but none more than in the appearance of Tim Curry as Dr Frank N Furter — aka, LGBTQ+ representation. Keep in mind that, in 1975, LGBTQ+ rights were up in the air. In some places, like Washington and California, as well as in the media, homosexuality was becoming the new norm. Yet murder was still prevalent, and the AIDS epidemic was about to explode.

Frank N. Furter is depicted as having sex with both Janet and Brad in the film, as well as having “creations” of different genders: Rocky and Columbia. Frank’s bisexuality is on full display – in fact, there’s ego in convincing Brad and Janet to sleep with him. But I’m here to say: I believe Frank was ashamed of his bisexuality.

For example, none of us know Columbia was one of his creations until she screams at him about how he creates and uses them for his own pleasure. It is craftily kept a secret the entire time – instead, we focus on Rocky, the muscular, blonde-haired-blue-eyed baby face.

frank n furter in rocky in rocky horror picture show

There’s also a moment where Janet and Rocky are portrayed as bonding over Brad. But later, he sleeps with Janet – and promises to keep it a secret. Add in Columbia as a secret as well, and it seems like the transsexual Frank N Furter is actually a fan of multiple genders – not just one.

For someone who owns being a “Sweet Transvestite,” as his opening song introduces him (reminding you that it’s 1975), you’d think being bisexual would be bottom of the worry list. But I think, for Frank, it was just another thing to deal with. That’s why he always put emphasis on transsexuality, and not once mentioned bisexuality – because he’d be expected to own that, too, and to carry both titles would be heavy. 

I relate to this as someone with many chronic and mental illnesses. You’re not necessarily ashamed of the symptoms (or you are, which is valid!), but when you have so many, it’s a lot to carry – even if they’re well managed and you’re doing perfectly okay! And that can bring shame. I make myself the face of bipolar disorder, but being epilepsy just creates another “problem,” and the fact that I have two “ailments” is more shameful than actually having epilepy.

I believe the same goes for Frank N. Furter’s bisexuality and transsexuality – why openly carry two when you already spotlight one?


Frank N Furter’s Borderline Personality Disorder Traits

If you scour the Internet, most people say Frank N Furter is a narcissist. And, yeah, he definitely has the ego of one.

photo of frank n furter in fur

But I am more inclined to believe he has a form of borderline personality disorder. While we don’t know what the trigger, abuse, or trauma was in his childhood that would cause this, could it be that his bisexuality on a transsexual planet was part of it? Perhaps – and that would explain his shame of it to this day.

Now, let’s go through the DSM-V’s nine diagnostic symptoms. Keep in mind: you only need five to be diagnosed.

Chronic feelings of emptiness. Frank N. Furter absolutely feels this – why else is he actively creating play things? Because they make him feel less alone. And why does he actively seek out pleasure? Because it’s a feeling other than that emptiness. Think of Frank N Furter as a car, and pleasure as the gas. Fill the tank before it’s empty, and you never run out. Find more pleasure before he gets bored or runs out, and he never feels empty.

Emotional instability in day-to-day events. While he seems to keep a cool demeanor most of the time, if not outright egotistical, there’s clearly instability. Who else goes from thrilled about a creation to murdering someone to feeding him to the guests, you know? Last I checked, that was not considered being emotionally stable.

 

Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Uhhh, hi, play things. Hi, not letting Brad or Janet escape. Basically: hi, needing to be a master in control so no one can leave.

Unstable self image. This also goes back to Frank’s feelings of shame toward his bisexuality – if he’s both transsexual and bisexual, he has a lot to carry. While he owns his transsexuality, again: that bisexuality lives somewhere, as does the shame that comes with carrying it.

Impulsive behavior. Let’s talk about that sex with both Brad AND Janet! Or killing Eddie and feeding him to his guests!

Intense anger. Again: killing Eddie. Turning everyone to stone when they begin criticizing him. Anger at Janet and Rocky when they’re caught having sex. Anger at Dr. Scott, who has come looking for Eddie post-murder. Anger again at Rocky and Janet (seriously, am I smelling a little jealousy, too?) when Janet runs to Rocky post-edible-Eddie-realization. He is almost always angry, and while some may say that’s the “mad” genius in him, I say it’s a symptom.

 

Unstable, intense relationships. Does Frank N Furter actually stay close to anyone? Do we sense any form of connection between him and his surroundings? No. He is rude to those around him, keeping them at a distance, yet using them for his own personal gain. I also believe his Favorite Person is the current creation that has his attention, until it lets him down and he splits on them.

Suicidal behavior. We don’t see this, so we’ll mark it as a no.

Paranoid ideation or dissociative symptoms. Again, not much of this, unless you consider feeding someone you’ve murdered to your dinner guests as going through the motions after a traumatic event.

So, is it BPD? Kind of seems like it now, doesn’t it?


Hiding Behind Manipulation And Ego

So, all of the above – the shame and the BPD – is… a lot, to say the least. And what do you do when you’re ashamed of something, or some things? You hide. Frank N. Furter, thank god for him, is a mad scientist – a total genius. So, he can hide behind that ego of being the smartest person in the room.

And when you have the smarts and the ego, manipulation comes easily. You get what you want because you know how to get it, and you get it because you don’t want anyone else to see what’s hiding behind the curtain. Essentially, Frank N Furter is the Wizard of Oz of Rocky Horror – just more brazen and comfortable in his identity (though not his sexuality, perhaps). 


My Final Thoughts On The Misunderstood Icon, Dr. Frank N. Furter

 

 

So, how do I put all of the above points into the general title of “misunderstood icon?” It’s easy: the film was made in 1975, and people were terrified of what they didn’t understand then. And guess what? It hasn’t changed almost 50 years later. LGBTQ+ rights are being rolled back and threatened, bisexuality still means you just “can’t choose,” and mental illness means something is “wrong” with you – especially if you show symptoms.

So, yes. Frank N. Furter is entirely misunderstood. I can’t say that his flaws come from a good place – in fact, I genuinely don’t believe he was doing things for the greater good and simply fucking them up on accident. I think he was coming at them from a confused, lost, and ashamed place, and used his manipulation to hopefully create a narrative for himself that didn’t end in self-hatred. Did it work up until the very end? Was it worth it all? I personally don’t think so, but only Frank could tell you the truth. 

All I know is that, watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time, I finally feel like I’ve found an LGBTQ+, BPD icon who embodies and represents my flaws (in a to-the-max way). So, next Halloween? You can bet I’ll be sitting in the audience of a live Rocky Horror Picture Show, a virgin, ready to call back lines as she watches the spectacle for her first time.

Plus, Brad is kind of a total asshole, and I’d like him to know it.

frank n furter, magenta, and columbia


What did you think about Rocky Horror Picture Show’s icon, the Frank N Furter? Do you agree with any of my points? Tell me in the comments!


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Hair Reviews

Mermaid Marissa: I Tried Three of Amika’s Hair Masks

“Try this,” read the note attached to my Amazon package. I would have been more baffled had this not become a routine. Tess, the QUILL Editor-in-Chief (and my best friend), is known to send random care packages… and beauty products for reviews to share with QUILL readers. I’m not complaining though — she knows exactly what I need when I need it. This is why I was thrilled to unbox Amika’s Soulfood, Flash, and The Kure hair masks, which would (hopefully) help my very sad strands. 

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Living on a sailboat can take a toll on your hair, from wind tangling it to the sun bleaching it. I love my life afloat, but my hair definitely needed a little extra love to keep it looking fab.

So, after I unboxed my goodies, I went straight to the shower to try out the biggest one: the Soulfood Nourishing Mask.

amika soulfood hair mask

SOULFOOD – $30

This ultra-luxurious hair mask is rich and creamy, yet doesn’t weigh hair down. It is packed with vitamins and nutrients to condition the hair making it soft, silky, and smoother than ever (thus its Soulfood name!) According to Amika’s website, Soulfood is “perfect for all hair types, especially those in need of deep hydration,” aka: me. Oh, and not only does it feel good but it smells good too! Keeping your locks smelling lovely all day long. Big win.

In addition to the Soulfood mask, Tess sent me the Flash Instant Shine Mask, which gives brilliant shine, softens, and hydrates hair in just 60 seconds… or so it says.

amika the flash instant shine hair mask

FLASH – $26

Honestly, I was more impressed with the Superfood, which definitely deeply hydrated my hair. The Flash mask was more liquid-like, and it worked better as a leave in product rather than a mask. I personally did not notice any extra “shine,” but I did appreciate another nice smelling product, especially when the wind ruffled my hair. 

I was 1 for 1 with one last mask to test: The Kure Intense Bond Repair Mask.

amika the kure bond repairing hair mask

THE KURE – $36

As mentioned, my hair dwells in a rough environment which unfortunately leads to a lot of dryness and breakage. I was really excited to give The Kure a shot, especially with Amika’s clinically proven promise to strengthen hair, reduce breakage, and prevent future damage. Made for people like me that have damaged hair due to everyday heat, environmental stressors, and chemical treatments, I was all about it!

On top of its clinically-proven benefits, it swears to be relatively fast acting. This rinse-out treatment doubles as a leave-in to strengthen your strands and repair damage in a mere 60 seconds. Multi-tasking has never been so easy, and I definitely recommend The Kure. 

My review’s bottom line: I was impressed with this product line and look forward to keeping Amika in my hair care routine, no matter where in the world I sail!

Marissa on boat with hair down


We hope my review of Amika’s hair masks with convince you to save your strands! Have you tried these masks? Did they help your hair? Sound off in the comments!


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Reviews Skin

Mermaid Marissa: I Tried The Mighty Patch, And I’m Never Going Back

No matter how many times I wash my face, drink water, and use clean face-friendly-products, it seems like I am still prone to zits. So, I’ve done plenty of research and read tons of reviews on products that not only cover the problem spots, but also heal them – which is when I came across this little gold mine of a product: Hero Cosmetics’ Mighty Patch.

 
 
 
 
 
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To be honest, I was skeptical of this highly-reviewed product: how could something so simple be so good? Hero’s Mighty Patch was relatively inexpensive, so I loaded a pack into my cart to give them a try and, at the very least, write a review for QUILL.

There is nothing “wow” about this packaging; it is very straightforward. But as always, it is what is on the inside that counts. So, I ripped open the package and peeled off a patch to place on one of my problem spots and let it do its magic. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The patch was well-hidden against my very pale complexion (like one scoop away from being vanilla-ice-cream white) and was quick to start absorbing all the “yuck” in my skin. The Mighty Patch uses medical-grade hydrocolloid to gently absorb pimple gunk throughout the day or night.

It was kind of satisfying to peel away the sticker and see the white spot where all the “ick” went! 

My problem spot was a problem no more, and there was no popping necessary. I was really impressed by the product’s ability to deliver what it had promised and bought a new pack as well as their larger patches for the bigger problem areas. However, the acid in the patches do make the areas I put them on dry (hello, that’s the whole point), so I make sure to use a very heavy moisturizer after the fact.

Additionally, I will note that the patches blended well into my skin for a great low-key-camouflaged-blemish moment, but I was severely disappointed to see that there are no shades to accommodate for darker skin tones. There are clear options, but even those are obvious and fail to blend in.

 
 
 
 
 
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Overall I give this product 4.5/5 stars. Want to try it for yourself? Grab Hero’s Mighty Patch and share your review with us!


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Reviews Skin

I Tried Revlon’s Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller

Humans are incredibly creative and resourceful when it comes to finding skin care products.  We make use of mushrooms, jade, salt water… basically, whatever we can get our hands on.  And that resourcefulness is exactly what came in handy when Revlon’s Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller came into the picture.

This product is made of volcanic stone — yup, that burning hot lava that comes out from volcanoes is taken once it’s cooled and hardened, and then it’s shaped into a little tool that can help with your oily skin. So, none other than the lovely Tess sent me the Revlon Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller to review.

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What Is Revlon’s Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller?

revlon oil absorbing volcanic roller

The Revlon Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller is a skincare tool that helps control the amount of oil on your face.  An oil roller is a perfect way to get rid of that excess of oil on your face, especially for those of us who have an oilier skin type or just need to freshen up on the go.

This oil control product went viral on TikTok, as do most things these days, and we’re here to see if this volcanic oil roller lives up to the hype.


How Does An Oil Absorber Work?

Oil absorbing volcanic rollers are made of volcanic stone (or lava rock, whatever you want to call them really), which is known to be very porous.  A rock being porous means it has these really tiny holes and spaces, known as pores, that can trap oils from your face, leaving your skin matte, oil-free, and looking refreshed.

Since it is also a rolling product, it is also a good way to work in a little facial massage to get that blood pumping throughout your face. If you read my recent gua sha article, you’ll know why getting that blood flowing to your face through a facial massage is a good thing.



Using Revlon’s Oil Absorber For The First Time

When I first opened Revlon’s package, I was very confused with what it was, because I’d never seen anything like it before (but that could just be because I am out of touch with the fancy products the kids these days are using).

rollerball of revlon's oil absorbing volcanic roller

I used the product immediately after opening it.  Let me tell you, I had just finished six straight hours of classes and studying, and I was looking ROUGH.  Skin oily and ready to go, I went and rolled the oil absorber on my face.

It was like magic.  My skin looked almost like I had just washed it and there was no greasy shine, definitely ready for the next half of my day where I had to do even more studying and homework.


After Three Weeks Of The Oil Roller

lexiss with oily skin before using revlon's volcanic oil roller
Pre-Roller – long day.
lexiss after using the revlon oil absorbing volcanic roller
Post-Roller – bye, oil!

I used the oil absorber nearly every day for the last three weeks, and it is safe to say that I am very pleased with the results.  Without fail I got that unpleasant shine down and looked refreshed when I needed to.

Here’s a side-by-side of the oil roller results.  This day in particular consisted of working, eating, shopping, walking through a park, and… honestly I kind of forget BUT I was definitely busy.  And after using the roller, I definitely looked less shiny and more refreshed! 

One thing of note is that you should wash this every night, or at least at the end of every day that you use it.  If not washed, there will be an oil build up on the product and it will not absorb face oils as much as it should, thus lessening efficacy.  To wash the oil roller, I would just use a small little pump of my regular face wash to get my face oils out of the stone.  

@revlon We know you all love our Oil-Absorbing Volcanic Roller so here’s how to keep it fresh✨ #Revlon #revlonoilroller #oilabsorbing ♬ Raindrops – Official Sound Studio

The tool itself felt somewhat cheap, with the volcanic stone being held together by various pieces of plastic.  I feel like the roll of the stone wasn’t as smooth as it could have been because of said plastic material — the stone would occasionally get stuck and would be hard to move around, but generally would move well enough to where it got the job done.

Now, these don’t last forever, so you’ll want to get a new facial roller about once every six months, or whenever you see fit.  The point is, you want clean, properly working skin care tools to give your skin the best possible treatment and care.


A Note: Volcanic Oil Rollers vs. Oil Absorbing Sheets

a picture of a girl with oil on an oil absorbing sheet.

The Revlon Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller is an ideal on the go option when it comes to getting off any excess oil.  It is a great alternative to oil blotting sheets, as they tend to create a lot of waste since they are single use.  

Having used both oil absorbing sheet and oil rollers, I can say that oil sheets do have significantly more coverage than oil rollers, but I feel so much better using oil rollers knowing that I have a more sustainable and reusable product.  

In the long run, oil absorbing rollers will be a lot more affordable as well, making this product one of the best choices when it comes to removing excess face oils on the fly.

Overall Review Of Revlon’s Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller

 
 
 
 
 
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This is a great product and I absolutely recommend it if you can get your hands on it.  It absorbs my face oils so I don’t look like a grease trap — it is a great addition to my arsenal of skin care tools and products, and it will always be in my bag.

BUY THE OIL ABSORBING VOLCANIC ROLLER NOW – $14.49


Did this review of Revlon’s Oil Absorbing Volcanic Roller convince you to try it? Do you prefer oil rollers or sheets? Tell us in the comments!


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Makeup Reviews

My Honest Review Of Honest Beauty’s Mascara & Lash Primer

While reading through one of QUILL’s makeup articles by Mermaid Marissa (ahem, me), the “clean” beauty brand Honest caught my eye. I was in the market for a new mascara for my sensitive eyes and wanted to try something new (and a little more budget friendly) than my usual Clinique mascara. I clicked the link and added Honest Beauty’s 2-in-1 Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer to my cart for arrival the next day, beginning my ~honest~ review ASAP.

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My Day Wearing Honest Beauty’s 2-In-1 Mascara and Lash Primer

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Honest Beauty (@honest_beauty)

Honest is an inclusive and ethical beauty brand founded in 2011 by American actress Jessica Alba.

The company states it is dedicated to “leaving the world better than [they] found it,” and although the ingredients in their products reflect that, I am a bit disappointed the packaging is not very eco friendly.  For $17 I thought there would be a little bit more attention to detail to the packaging, too.

honest beauty 2-in-1 extreme length mascara and lash primer

While getting ready for my day, I pulled out my brand new mascara and lash primer, and prayed to the makeup gods that it would be a good makeup day. I was a bit skeptical of the very small, soft bristle applicator brushes as I gently applied the primer, but once the mascara was on, I was amazed! Small but mighty, the ability to layer the product for more volume was a definite selling point for me. 

After a full day of wear there was not a sign of smudging or eye irritation — a major win. However, I did go sailing that afternoon, and I received a nice salty shower courtesy of the ocean… which the mascara did not take kindly to. It ran like a sieve, and although it was easy to wipe off, it did not fare well when mixed with water — I looked eerily similar to gremlins, or the Wicked Witch of the West.

Even though this mascara became my daily wearer, if I know there is potential to get wet, I use Maybelline’s waterproof mascara as a top coat to help hold everything in place. Now, is this why my eyelashes are stubby and refuse to grow? Potentially. We will research that later. 


Honest Beauty’s Mascara: The Verdict

marissa wearing honest mascara on one eye, showing its lengthening capabilities

So should you buy this mascara? Absolutely. Should you wear it if you are a mermaid? Probably not, unless you are going for a sea witch look which – truth be told – could be super rad so you do you boo! No matter how you use this product, we hope you share the photos with us! Tag #quillmedia for a chance to be featured! 

BUY HONEST’S MASCARA – $17.99

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I hope this review helped you decide if Honest Beauty’s 2-in-1 Extreme Length Mascara and Lash Primer is for you! Have you tried it? Tell us what you thought below!


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Beauty Reviews Skin

Ghost Democracy Has Saved My Skin

Update 8/18 – One Month Using Ghost Democracy

Unfortunately, I’ve had to up my dose of lithium for my bipolar disorder. But Ghost Democracy? It’s been there for me the entire way — here’s your month-long review on my skincare routine.

As I write this, I have a few tiiiiny zits on my face — like, you can barely see them. This is nothing compared to two weeks ago, when I accidentally slipped up on my routine and broke out like no other.

I’ve come to find that my skin looks more radiant, and I believe this is entirely thanks to the vitamin C serum, because I certainly haven’t gotten more sun. #hermitlife. Spots that used to be there? Faded. And burning? Absolutely none. It feels like I put on water that’s a little sticky, not runny and full of burning ingredients.

And moisture-wise? My skin has never been so frickin’ DEWY or hydrated or smooth! The combination of the hyaluronic acid serum with the daily moisturizer is a winner, absolutely.  

Overall, the first two weeks were not some weird fluke. My skin is glowing, radiant, hydrated, and thriving since starting my Ghost skincare routine. I can’t recommend it enough, and Rex is the MVP for giving me the gift of clear skin. 

Read more about Ghost Democracy and Rex Chou in the profile I wrote!


When I found Ghost Democracy on Instagram – all blue, with a cute lil ghost as the logo – I knew I had to reach out to the founder, Rex. After emailing back and forth, he asked if I’d like to write a review on a Ghost Democracy product. What came, instead of the just one (1) I requested? A new skincare routine, all Ghost, all blue and beautiful.

ghost democracy product lineup for review

I was overwhelmed, and I’m going to tell you a secret that I’m ashamed of: I’ve never had a solid skincare routine.

Yes, I wash my face, throw on some moisturizer, exfoliate on occasion, maybe do a face mask here and there. But a routine? Nowhere to be found.

That was all going to change, though. I was determined, and when Rex found out, I knew I couldn’t back down from the challenge.

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When I Zoomed with Rex (for reasons I can’t divulge yet!), I admitted to the skincare brand’s founder that I didn’t have a routine. However, my new medications cause breakouts, and I was in need of one before my face became a war zone.

I cringed, ready for the shock and potential judgement. But he was thrilled instead, giving me a pep talk and walking me through each step of the routine with excitement. He was glowing, my aura was glowing, and I hoped that my dull, lifeless skin would be glowing soon, too.

The next day, I pulled out everything and committed to a one-month routine – even my ADHD self could do that, especially when I had someone indirectly holding me accountable. You know, like the founder, who gifted me a skincare routine. No big deal.

In Rex’s amazing gift box, he had sent me four products and two samples, because he is simply the greatest, period. I was ecstatic to find an exfoliating cleanser, a vitamin C serum, a hyaluronic acid serum, and a moisturizer all neatly packed in a box with the logo printed on tissue paper. Can you say adorable? 

And the best part: nothing was gendered. It was sleek, chic, chill – whatever word you want to use that indicates universal and cool. I excitedly brought the products to the bathroom, set up my camera, and caught my reactions in live time. Reel and TikTok soon to come, but first: a detailed review of my first experience with my new Ghost Democracy skincare diet routine.


Step 1: Daily Cleanser

Naturally, my first step was Ghost Democracy’s Transparent Gentle Exfoliating Daily Cleanser.

It sounds a bit like an oxymoron – an exfoliator that’s gentle? – but trust me, Rex knew what he was doing when he created these transparent products.

Speaking of which, that’s one of my favorite things about Ghost Democracy: their transparency. You won’t find any hidden ingredients or additives, nothing that will seep into your skin and poison your pores. In fact, they’re so transparent, every highly-concentrated ingredient and its percentage is listed on the product. Love that, because it gives me all the more reason to recommend the brand! Who doesn’t love honesty, especially when there isn’t anything unfortunate about it?

In the daily cleanser, the key ingredients are 4.1% glycolic acid and  , which slough away that dull skin. The magic soothing comes from its other two major players: 1.6% willow bark extract, which soothes while also balancing oil levels, and 1.3% niacinamide, which calms irritation and inflammation.

The product foamed up nicely, and felt soft and smooth, despite being an exfoliator. However, I didn’t doubt that it was doing its job – after using my Foreo luna mini 2 for one minute to really get in there and deep clean, I rinsed off plenty of gross, murky water. Goodbye, skin cells! My face was red after, but not irritated; clearly, the willow bark extract and niacinamide did their job.

Next step: a good ‘ol dose of vitamin C.


Step 2: Vitamin C Serum

This was the singular Ghost product I asked to review, prior to receiving a huge box of products. The Lightbulb Vitamin C Serum is one of their bestsellers, and my skin NEEDS brightening desperately.

After learning that vitamin C goes on before hyaluronic acid despite both being gentle serums (kind of a duh, but let me reiterate: I’ve never had a skincare routine!), I took the dropper and applied liberally to my face.

I didn’t need a full face of vitamin C, but I gave myself one, and it felt… not drying. Nope, it felt good, gooey, a little runny, and oh-so-soothing. And then there’s the brightening effect, which I definitely have noticed after 14 days. Even with the every-other-night-all-nighters, I don’t look like a total zombie! (Aside from the night I accidentally fell asleep in the kitchen, but that’s another story.)

This radiance would be courtesy of its key ingredients: 18% vitamin C, which helps neutralize free radicals and even out pigmentation; 1.9% vitamin E to protect, while also acting as an anti-inflammatory; 0.5% bisabolol, which is an antimicrobial with skin-brightening properties; and 0.5% bakuchiol, a retinol-alternative that helps brighten and even out texture.

Even though my skin didn’t feel like it needed it – the goop truly was moisturizing – I opened up my hyaluronic acid after pat, pat, patting the C into my pores.


Step 3: Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Another popular product, Ghost Democracy’s Floodgate Hyaluronic Acid Serum is appropriately named, because it will flood your skin if you’re not careful. Trust me.

Rex told me to drown my face in it, so I do it each time, and I’m telling you: I wake up feeling like I’ve just put on a face mask of some sort, because my skin is so ridiculously hydrated.

No surprise, the top ingredient in the hyaluronic acid serum is… 2.1% PURE hyaluronic acid. The “pure” means its extra potent, retaining up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This is why your skin feels drenched with just one dropper – or, should I say, flooded.

Then, there’s 4.0% niacinamide, which is also extremely hydrating and helps support your skin’s moisture barrier. Add in 1.5% Linden flower extract, an anti-inflammatory with water-binding properties, and 1.3% white tea leaf extract, which helps protect skin from outside stressors, and you have a serum that will fight for you. It will literally (not literally) sit on your skin and fight anything that intends to dry out or harm your skin, and it will do it well.

I didn’t think I’d need the hyaluronic acid serum after the vitamin C serum. And I certainly didn’t think I needed the moisturizer after patting in the hyaluronic acid. But I listened to the (R)expert (I’m so sorry for that, Rex), so I moved on to the final step.


Step 4: Daily Moisturizer

Everyone should end their routine with a moisturizer, but… okay, sometimes I’m lazy and I don’t. I know, I know, but I’ll say it one more time: no skincare routine before this.

But I am a good student, so I read up on the ingredients first to see how else I’d be hydrating my skin – as if I hadn’t hydrated it enough. Inside the Lightweight Daily Face Moisturizer, there is no oil. None. So that greasy after-feeling that I hate, which is why I skip so much? Not an issue here. Knowing that, I happily read on to the main characters.

I was surprised to see 12.0% probiotics. I’ve never seen that before. Peptides, ceramides, yes. But probiotics? However, I know the skin’s microbiome needs a lil extra help when it comes to balancing itself out, so I was grateful to see that my skin would be loved on with calming, soothing TLC.

1.0% niacinamide is also there, to help the skin’s moisture barrier, pairing up with 0.5% panthenol (aka pro-vitamin B5) to keep skin moisturized and soft. Finally, 1.0% oat seed extract is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, calming the skin down – perfect after a long day (or all nighter).

This is going to sound gross, but the formula reminded me of slime. Maybe snail slime. But don’t let that freak you out, because it goes on so. frickin’. comfortably. And a little goes a long way – I dipped my fingers in once, no scooping, and I had enough formula to cover my entire face. 

Was I supposed to pat this in? Probably, considering I was directed to do so with the serums. But I rubbed it in, because I wasn’t sure, and that’s what I’ve always done with moisturizers. Old habits die hard, right? 

And with that, I was done! … With day one. And now, I’m 14 days in. Here’s the current situation.


14 Days: I’m Already Glowing

It’s been 14 days and 14 days only, and my skin is soft, it’s clear, it’s evened out, it’s kind of worth being obsessed over. I know I’m defeating the purpose, but I can’t help but touch my face throughout the day because I can’t believe how soft my skin is! And that medication problem? Nowhere to be found on my face, now. It’s a blank canvas. A clean slate. It’s just… good.

I would absolutely recommend this skincare routine to anyone and everyone, but especially those who have never had a skincare routine before. Four steps felt like the Goldilocks of length – enough to feel mature enough for a skincare routine, but not too long where I felt afraid to do it every night. And NOTHING was uncomfortable or bothersome, which also kept me from being scared off.

Rex, thank you endlessly. I can’t wait to update you one month in – I can only imagine that I’ll be bright as the sun and smooth as marble by that point. And I. can’t. wait. Ghost Democracy review #2, let’s do this.

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Did this review of Ghost Democracy’s skincare routine convince you to try out the brand? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


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Read The Article On Ghost Democracy Founder Rex Chou Now!


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Reviews Skin

Dr. Scholl’s Foot Peel Mask Was Totally Underwhelming

What do you use 365 days of the year, rely on more than your BFF, and surprisingly accumulate half a pint of sweat from every single day? Well, your feet of course! In a world where your dawgs aren’t always airing out, it is easy to forget that those suckers need TLC too. This in mind, I thought I’d treat mine to love, respect, and Dr. Scholl’s Ultra Hydrating Foot Peel Mask (and review it for QUILL, ofc).

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Similar to that of a face mask, a foot peel mask contains deeply moisturizing lotions and oils that penetrate the skin to soothe and purify your feet’s skin. Who cares about soft hands when you can have soft feet? … 🥵

Hearing about this newfound trend piqued my interest, as I’ve been aware of the rise of the foot care industry (feet pics or gtfo). Keeping in mind that I’m a college student (if you catch my drift), I knew it was time to submerge my feet in a bath of lotion.

dr scholls foot peel mask

Coming in a pack of three, this product features two disposable booties infused most notably with urea. Urea is a skincare agent that targets stale calloused skin, aiming to make it soft and supple. Known for its success with my psoriasis and eczema, I was excited to see how my calloused feet would take to the lather.


First Impressions

Coming in a pack of three, this product features two disposable booties infused most notably with urea. Urea is a skincare agent that targets stale calloused skin, aiming to make it soft and supple. Known for its success with my psoriasis and eczema beauties, I was excited to see how my calloused feet would take to the lather. 

Upon opening the package, my nose was hit with a whiff of lavender, which instantly put me in the spa day mood. As I removed the booties I let out a giggle, these things were HUGE — reminding me of a clown shoe (then again, I am 5’2″).  Here’s me holding these wacky looking things.

tara holding dr scholl's hydrating foot peel mask booties, which are extremely big compared to her

Recovering from my shock, I unsealed the large sock and slipped my feet right on in. Smoothing the excess with my hands, I was instructed (via directions) to fasten the sock tightly with the glue tab. And just like that, I let my dawgs sit for 30 minutes. 


The Experience

tara wearing dr scholl's hydrating foot peel mask booties

Wiggling my toes and rubbing my feet through the bootie, I was remarkably… underwhelmed.

I had expected a tingling sensation, or something transformational. However, I was met with the feeling of wearing a rain-soaked sock. Totally not relaxing. This may be due to the inclusion of glycerin and hyaluronic acid in the product, both hydrating agents.

This being said, when the 30 minutes were up, I removed both boots and observed my incredibly lotion-y feet. Rubbing in the lotion that did not absorb while wearing the mask I concluded that there was nothing different about my feet. No peeling, no exfoliation, just wet. 

Later that day, I realized my feet were indeed soft and supple, but not without their gnarly callouses. A disappointment indeed, and not one I would want to experience again. Sorry, dawgs, and it’s a no from me.

 

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Did you find this review of Dr. Scholl’s foot peel mask helpful? Do you want to give Dr. Scholl’s a piece of your mind too? Let us know below, kweens!


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Hair Reviews

I Reviewed Shaving My Pubes For The Internet

No, I’m not going to tell you my pubic hair grooming habits. Let’s get that straight. But when the internet won’t stop mentioning the Venus Pubic Hair and Skin razor, you’ve gotta be brave and give a firsthand review.

So, mom, dad, I’m sorry for putting this on the internet: here’s how it went shaving my pubes with Venus’ trending razor.

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The Venus Pubic Hair and Skin Products

Not only did I buy the Pubic Hair Razor, I also bought three of its compadres: the 2-in-1 Cleanser + Shave Gel, the Daily Smoothing Serum, and the Hair and Skin Softening Oil.

The razor looks standard: it has two blades and an ergonomic handle. But look closely, and you’ll see the trimmer on the back for hard-to-reach areas – very convenient, imo. And then there’s the Patented Irritation Defense Bar, which puts space between the blades and skin to lessen irritation. Neat!

venus pubic hair and skin razor from gilette

The 2-in-1 Cleanser + Shave Gel is just that: a gel that doesn’t foam up, but gets kinda sudsy – think more like soap than foam. However, the formula is totally soap-free, and it’s dermatologist- and gynecologist-tested plus pH-balanced. Ingredients include ultra-nourishing olive, coconut, and jojoba oils, treating your skin as you slide a sharp piece of metal up and down it.

2-in-1 cleanser and shave gel from venu's pubic hair and skin collection

Venus’ Softening Oil reminds me of fur’s Fur Oil – they have the same point, to soften your fur and make it easier to cut through the madness. However, their ingredients lists are fairly different. While they both have grape seed and jojoba oils, that’s about where the similarities end. Venus uses more fatty components and emollients to help protect the skin, while fur uses less emollients and more antibacterials/antimicrobials.

Both use fragrance, which is odd to me, though the fragrance DOES come with benefits; for example, coconut oil nourishes in Venus’ option, while tea tree oil is soothing in fur’s.

venus' hair and skin softening oil

And finally, to ease the pain (slash razor burn and bumps), the Daily Soothing Serum works to calm skin by using ingredients like panthenol and allantoin to calm, olive oil to nourish, lactic acid to gently exfoliate away dead skin and stop clogged pores, and glycerin to hydrate.

venus pubic hair and skin daily soothing serum

Basically, they thought this shit through. But how does it actually go when you’re shaving your pubes? I was about to find out.


The Shaving Process

I’m gonna admit it now: I think I fucked up by not putting the Softening Oil on before, but I won’t fully say I did, because the ingredients didn’t specifically say to put it on before – instead, they said to apply it to towel-dried skin.

This doesn’t make sense, looking back. But I’m going to blame the bottle. I was following instructions, dammit!

So, instead, I exfoliated with fur’s little finger mitt. And then it was time to lather up with the Shave Gel and begin my journey.

Maybe it’s better for those who have some fine hair, or who shave the second they start feeling prickly, but my hair wasn’t having it. It took so. many. swipes. to get through one full line of hair. I appreciated the lack of burn and cuts, but, damn, there was bound to be irritation after attempting to shave the same line 12 times (I counted). And after the 12th time, I gave up on the stray hairs. It was time to leave the area and move on.

I will admit that the smaller razor head allowed for fitting into spots that other razors def struggle to reach, or spots that usually require serious contortion. And the Precision Trimmer was a godsend in those areas that needed more care – think more inner than outer thigh, if you catch my drift. 

Finally, after about half an hour, the job was done… er, “done enough.” It was imperfect. There were strays. But like I said: my back ached and I was tired and frustrated from going over the same spot multiple times, only to see nothing removed.

I WILL give it this, though – I experienced no irritation afterward when I used the Softening Oil and Soothing Serum. No razor bumps, no burn, no cuts, nothing. And it wasn’t even sensitive to the touch!

The final test: waking up the next few mornings with underwear on, going to bed after a day with pants, and seeing if that would make me itch and squirm each day.

Nope!

The serum worked! It was a miracle. I nearly cried from knowing I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable all day and only irritate my skin – my very-susceptible-to-bacteria-skin – with my nails when I inevitably scratched for relief. I applied the Soothing Serum that night, woke up the next day, and same thing: nothing.

However, “my” poor job was showing, with hairs sprouting up in random places already. Not cute. However, after rubbing in the Softening Oil, my hairs felt softer and less prickly. A win!


My Final Thoughts

venus pubic hair and skin razor daily soothing serum and 2-in-1 cleanser and shave gel

If you have fine hair or shave every other day, this razor is absolutely for you. But if you have coarse hair or give yourself weeks in between shaves, it’s worth it to skip out on the Pubic Hair and Skin razor and invest in a better, more aggressive one. There are plenty out there that do a damn good job – you just might need some TLC after.

As for the 2-in-1 Cleanser & Shave Gel, it’s just like any other shave gel. I personally loved it… but I also love my other shave gel that doesn’t cost this much, so I’ll be skipping out. Use it up on your pits and legs though – it’s not just for your bikini area!

I will be investing in the Daily Serum and the Softening Oil for sure. Not only are the ingredients luxe, the products work. The Daily Serum stopped irritation from my leggings, jeans, and underwear – things that would normally irritate the sh*t out of me if/when/should I shave. (Still not gonna tell you my shaving habits, sorry. Do I have coarse hair? Do I have fine hair and just wait to shave every six months? Do I shave at all? You’ll never know.) 

My overall thoughts on Venus’ Pubic Hair and Skin collection: skip the gel, buy the razor if you have fine hair/shave regularly, and invest in the Daily Serum and Softening Oil. Your pubes will thank you for getting rid of next-day discomfort.

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We hope this review gave you more insight on Venus’ Pubic Hair and Skin Razor kit! Have you tried it already? Tell us below!


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Hair Reviews Skin

Hims and Hers’ Biotin Gummies Let Me Down

I’m a sucker for a good supplement… okay, not really.

The truth is, I don’t take supplements. My mother and brother are queen and king of supplements, and I just didn’t pick up the habit – which is hilarious, considering all of my health complications. I digress.

Now that it’s clear that I don’t take care of myself, that’s why it was such a big deal when I challenged myself to 30 days of taking Hims and Hers Biotin gummies to write an honest review. I don’t do this! And a beauty supplement? Who am I?

But my hair and nails have been struggling, so… why not? And with that, I did 30 days of gummies. Here’s what happened.

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First of all, Hims & Hers nailed (pun intended) the taste of a biotin gummy, because when you hear “biotin,” you don’t think “delicious.” But delicious is what these gummies are. So delicious, in fact, that there were some days where I snuck extras. Gotta get that hair growing, ammirite? 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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But hold up, let’s take a minute to talk about biotin, yeah?

Biotin, aka vitamin B7, plays a big role in your hair, nail, and skin health. That’s why it’s so popular in beauty supplements: it covers a wide range of ailments. You can find it naturally in foods like eggs, milk, and bananas. Biotin deficiency can result in thinning hair, brittle nails, and rashes on the face, so get that B! 

Hims and Hers Biotin Gummies have biotin, duh, but also ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Ingested, these are supposed to reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and act against aging, respectively. And while these are all applied topically now, you can get these amazing ingredients in your everyday diet.

But, more importantly, my Hims and Hers Biotin Gummy Experience.

Here’s where it’s time to note: beauty supplements can’t be regulated by the FDA, and whether or not they actually work is kiiiind of complicated – and super divisive. As long as you’re not taking an obscene amount of biotin supplements, and instead are taking a gummy every day, it won’t hurt you. But will it help?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Mirinda (@mirindacleanlivingconsultant)

For me, it didn’t. My hair, 30 days later, has grown at its normal rate, my nails are still breaking, and my acne is increasingly worse depending on where I’m at during my menstrual cycle. Plus, I’ve started taking more lithium for my depression, so the acne is extra bad. 

Hims and Hers, your biotin failed me, though your gummies did taste delicious and make me feel proud of myself each time I remembered to take them. Perhaps it’s my own body chemistry and shitty diet, perhaps it’s just that you don’t work. Regardless, I’ll finish your bottle… and then stick to my soap.

 

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Have you tried Hims and Hers’ Biotin gummies? Did this review help you decide on whether or not you’ll invest? Share with us below!


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