I sometimes talk about the year of my life that was essentially makeup-less, or rather, my version of makeup-less: I did not wear foundation, lipstick, blush, highlighter, eyeshadow, or any of my other favorite cosmetic products. I was completely stressed with a heavy course load, graduate school applications, work, and some health problems. I was also a bit burnt out and really wanting a break from the endless face painting. Besides, I was stuck in an old-fashioned dorm room with no bathroom or air conditioning, and who wants their makeup collection in THAT?!
The only things I smeared on my face on a daily basis were the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF60 and the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Lip Protectant SPF15. When I did wear makeup--maybe twice a month--I stuck to the same three products. The unholy trinity? MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW15, whatever mascara I had handy...and my beloved Shu Uemura Hard 9 Formula brow pencil in Seal Brown.
I didn't just love that brow pencil, I loved loved loved loved LOVED that brow pencil to the point of OBSESSION. I kept it in my purse and panicked if I couldn't find it. I recommended it to just about everybody. It was truly a makeup must-have for that otherwise barren year. But because I was a dunce, I threw it out just before I moved out of that dorm room. I went through a phase with some hardcore, way-too-warm Sharpie brows, all because I thought that my eyebrow pencil had "gone bad" after 2 years. Now that I'm a smidge smarter about cosmetics, I know that it's a brow pencil and, therefore, pretty harmless. I also know that the damn thing lasts FOR-EV-AH, as I'd only had my Seal Brown pencil sharpened twice. TWICE! In two years!
So you can imagine how ELATED I am to have Shu Uemura Seal Brown back in my life! I have no qualms paying for the pencil, which retails for $23, but it's the only Shu Uemura product on their website that appeals to me, so I didn't want to place an order JUST for the brow pencil. A lovely MakeupAlley friend was kind enough to send me her backup. :) If you're less twitchy and ridiculous about filling up your online carts, OR if you're interested in other Shu products, I highly recommend splurging on this baby...provided it's what you wanted.
If you naturally have very full, lush brows, or if you always want a very full-on, dramatic brow (which I must admit is often mah thang), this is not the pencil for you. It is, as the name suggests, quite a hard formulation, and it therefore doesn't transfer a lot of color. But if you're looking for a more natural brow, or just something to fill in noticeable gaps without looking drawn-on, this is the baby for you! In my experience, it coats your existing brow hairs AND fills in gaps quickly and naturally. The color is a medium ashy taupe, meaning it will suit a variety of skintones and colorings. I find that I can get my brows on in less than 2 minutes with this baby, but I'm quite light and have very mousey hair; if your hair is much darker, you may have to do a bit more work with this pencil.
While this pencil is hard to overdo, suitable for many different hair and skin colors, and will last you a friggin' lifetime (seriously, this pencil is HUGE!), there are a few minor downsides. First off, the color range is quite limited. Seal Brown will suit most people, in my experience, but I still think it'd be wise for Shu to provide people with more color options than "ashy brown, red brown, gray." (NOTE: this is mostly an American's gripe, as the US website only lists a fraction of the company's products. Asian consumers purportedly get more color options, like "Acorn 06" and "Sound Black 01.")
Second, Shu has left the building. Literally: there are no more Shu Uemura counters in the US. Not only will you US lovelies have to order your pencil online, but you also won't have access to their free sharpening service. You see, this brow pencil is traditionally sharpened in to a flat shape, similar to that of a Japanese sword, which some people claim makes it easier to use:
Image from ProjectVanity.com
But honestly, I once sharpened my old pencil with a box cutter, and it was just as good. This new pencil is sharpened like any regular ol' liner, and it works just as well. So if you don't mind the lack o' Shu counters or having a pointier pencil, you're pretty much set!
$23 ain't cheap, especially when I've got old standbys like my $1.50 La Femme brow pencil hanging around. But $23 for a pencil that will last for years and years and years and never give me Sharpie brows? It's definitely worth the investment.
BASE: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin primer, Kevyn Aucoin Liquid Airbrush foundation in 02 + MAC Lustre Drops in Pink Rebel, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx02, Skindinavia Setting Spray
EYES: Too Faced Shadow Insurance, CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, Shu Uemura Hard 9 Formula brow pencil in Seal Brown
CHEEKS: Becca Beach Tint in Grapefruit
LIPS: Maybelline Vivid lipstick in Shocking Coral