Review: “Superfine Eyeliner,” “BB Cream” and “Stay Natural Concealer” from Essence

essenceAfter checking the ingredients of several eyeliners, I found out that a few select Barry M and Essence eyeliners contain no tocopheryl acetate. If I can’t confirm the source of the tocopheryl acetate, I avoid using the product. It could be where gluten is hidden!

I usually wear liquid eyeliner – never use eye pencils. I find liquid eyeliners have a more defined, precise and neat look. I checked out the Barry M Wink eyeliner. The nib was too thick for me, and the tip was far too flimsy to be able to draw a proper defined line. It cost 30 AED here in Boots.

My next option was to try out Essence. They have an online booklet where all product ingredients are mentioned. After poring over the ingredients for days, I made a list of all the items that would be safe for me. Since they haven’t replied to my email yet, the ingredients I was on lookout for were: tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate, denatured alcohol, and of course gluten, soy and corn.

eyelinerThey have quite a few makeup products that are safe from these ingredients. I chose Superfine Eyeliner because the name fit what I was looking for. I wore the eyeliner today and I don’t know why, but for the first minute or so, it tingled and I felt a slight burning sensation. It went away after that. I hope this eyeliner is okay for me – I don’t want to go hunting for another gluten free eyeliner again!

Anyway, so the eyeliner is pretty nice. It creates a nice, dark line and it’s very easy to use. The nib is also pretty sturdy, unlike the flimsy Barry M one. The nib is very thin so you can create a well-defined line. It cost 17 AED. If I have no adverse reactions to this product, I’m going to stick to it. I quite like it! I also like how I don’t have to keep dipping my eyeliner brush into a bottle. This just makes life so much easier. Also, it dries up pretty fast. No need to wait a few minutes before using eyelash curlers! Give it a few seconds and it’s set!

Since I contacted MaxFactor and P&G replied, asking me to look at their website for information about the source of tocopheryl acetate, which I haven’t been able to find AT ALL, I have decided against using my MaxFactor foundation. Gluten free foundation and concealer is rather hard to find. Almost all of them contain wheat. I accidentally even tried on some Essence foundation that had gluten! Thank goodness I had only tested it on my hand! I was terrified though.

I tried on their BB cream in shade 02 Natural. It was quite nice. It minimized my pores, and kind of created this dewy look. Gave a little glow. It only cost 25 AED, so that was a bargain. The good thing was that their BB cream was fragrance free. The downside was that the BB cream had a funky smell. The smell wore off after a few minutes but it was still a bit odd. Moreover, later I noticed that my skin was a tiny bit itchy. However, that could be due to how hot and humid the weather was. I was about to buy this product but upon looking at the ingredients list, I noticed that it contained sorbitol. Sorbitol can be derived from corn and I’m sensitive to corn. I figured it would be better if I stayed away from it, as I have reacted to corn in my makeup before. Better safe than sorry! Really wish I could have bought it though! Seemed to give decent coverage. It wasn’t perfect, but workable. Better than no foundation!

concealerSo I ditched the BB cream. Now what the heck was I going to use on my face? I figured I’d just buy the “Stay Natural Concealer” and use that to cover up. It worked quite well actually! Again, the coverage isn’t that great. It doesn’t make my blemishes disappear, and when I tried it on in the store, along with the BB cream, coverage was quite good. On its own, it’s okay. Just kind of reduces redness and makes blemishes a little less prominent. It comes in a nice little pen-type tube. You have to twist the bottom quite a bit before the concealer comes out. You can apply it directly using the brush tip or apply a little on your hand and then use your finger to dab it onto your face. Cost 16 AED. Pretty good for the price! It will make do for now – until I find some actual gluten free cosmetics with non-threatening ingredients.

Essence is supposedly “hypoallergenic” and it’s aimed at young teens. I find it odd though that their products contain parabens (just like so many other brands out there). Even so, apparently no one has had any complaints about Essence products with regards to allergies, accordingly to what the sales lady told me. Hope that’s true! I wish I could confirm if these products were manufactured in a gluten free facility, and if there was no risk for cross contamination. I figured I’d just check the ingredients carefully since almost all cosmetics companies cannot guarantee being gluten free. Essence products are very affordable and they do the job. Not as well as I would’ve liked but fair enough – it’ll do for now.

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My Glutenscapades – Going gluten free

2 AM.

Late night munchies. Cookies? Gluten intolerant. Chocolate? Lactose intolerant. Air? Sounds delicious… meh.

Ripe banana with spots

Ripe banana with spots

So here I am, snacking on a banana, ready to tell you about why I am gluten free.

By the way, did you know that the black spots on bananas are a good thing? That’s when the bananas are ripe and sweet and less starchy – perfect to eat. Also, eat them in between meals – at least an hour before and an hour after.

In 2011, a few months after I graduated from University, I started experiencing anxiety, brain fog, and gastrointestinal symptoms which included stomach cramps and bloating. I also suffered from horrible back aches. Imagine being 21 years old and groaning every time you sit down or get up because of a swelling ache in your back. Or not being able to hang out with a couple friends because your tummy wasn’t feeling too good.

Oh yeah, and imagine things like that happening almost every single day.

I had no idea what was going on. I was feeling so sick all the time, wouldn’t go out, and I was feeling so out of it.

I lost a LOT of weight. I used to weigh around 50-51 kgs on average. I was down to 46 kgs. I went to see a nutritionist, gained all the weight back, but I was still feeling sick.

A friend suggested I take a closer look at my diet. 3451 google searches later, I began to wonder if I was lactose intolerant.

Farewell, dear dairy, since I must needs be gone. 

That’s what Shakespeare would have said if he were talking to dairy.

Symptoms got better but I still wasn’t feeling that great. It’s like when you’re running a temperature of 103 and it comes down to 102.

I kept a food diary recording everything I ate, the times I ate them, and the symptoms that followed. 2065 more google searches and I found a post by someone who was experiencing similar symptoms say it had reduced by going gluten free.

Exit gluten stage left.

It was so hard. But it was worth it. It was then that I realized…

Gluten is my nemesis.

Barely 2-3 days had passed since having cut out the obvious gluten from my diet and my symptoms were starting to go away. I thought what if I was just gluten intolerant but able to have lactose? I brought the lactose back in. Bad move. Symptoms returned but they weren’t as bad as the symptoms gluten brought on.

A few gluten/lactose free months passed and I wasn’t feeling perfect, but I definitely was feeling better. Then I thought let me try having some gluten and dairy again. I re-introduced the foods. Felt okay for the first couple days. I thought maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I’m not intolerant to these foods. Fast forward 2-3 weeks and I was cancelling plans again, staying home all the time because I was feeling sick, and the anxiety returned. It all happened in such subtle ways that I didn’t even realize I was slowly getting sicker and sicker day by day. By the end of the month, I decided I just didn’t want to eat gluten and dairy anymore. I just couldn’t deal with how sick it was making me feel.

I didn’t know back then that I should have gotten tested for Celiac Disease first to get that ruled out. So I’d encourage you to get tested before you decide to eliminate gluten completely.

I’m still not feeling completely better. Does that happen to the rest of you who are gluten intolerant? I don’t feel as good as I used to before I ever started experiencing these symptoms. I definitely feel better off gluten/dairy but is it normal to not feel as good as I did maybe 5 years ago?  I still feel sick and also suffer from brain fog from time to time. The FODMAPs diet has been really helping me out with minimizing that. Look into that if you’re dealing with any tummy troubles. It’s worth a shot!

I met a doctor here in Dubai who didn’t seem convinced that my problems were food related. I told him I’m pretty certain it has something to do with gluten and dairy but he didn’t seem to believe me. He just prescribed some Fybogel. That was pretty helpful actually, but I don’t know why it was so hard for him to believe it was a food issue. On a holiday to India earlier this year, a family friend recommended an allergist in Mumbai. After the intraderm testing process, where they basically inject you to test your sensitivity to food items, I discovered that I was sensitive to the following:

  • Bengal gram
  • Black pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Red lentils/Masoor dal
  • Garlic
  • Green Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Dairy
  • Gluten

FINALLY I HAD A DOCTOR’S REPORT SAYING I WAS SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN! For the longest time, no one believed me! Everyone kept saying it was in my head, and to slowly eat a little gluten/wheat every day and build up tolerance and I was just all NOOOOOOOOOOO!

The test results made so much sense. I realized that I had already eliminated almost all the foods on the list because I always had stomach aches after eating them. To be on the safe side, I have also eliminated corn and soy from my diet.

So what do I eat, you ask? Every day is a challenge really. On days I’m feeling off, I tend to stick to eating ‘safe’ foods. Yes I get bored doing that. But it’s just not worth risking the possibility of feeling sick. I eat rice, potatoes, rice pasta, quinoa, beans, vegetables, lentils and fruit. You’d be surprised at how versatile some of these items are!

Anyway, that’s about it for my glutenscapades. Cutting out gluten and dairy has been difficult, especially considering the fact that im a vegetarian. It’s been worth it though. As parting advice, I’d say just listen to your body. It always pays. If you’ve been feeling ill and can’t figure out why, it’s worth looking at your diet and changing things around a bit. If you suspect you might have some food sensitivities, it’s worth going spending some time trying to figure it out. You’ll just be so glad that you did!