Vanity + Wearables

Mascara, I love you.


Something big has happened: I found a new mascara to love. Considering the last time I felt a mascara was worthy of blogging about (Max Factor Volume Couture, now discontinued) was a full five years ago, this is a real cause for excitement! Five years of reading reviews, buying tube after tube with the hope of finding just the right formula, only to be disappointed time and time again. I’ve been settling, something you should never do where eyelashes are concerned. And so, without further delay, I present to you…

Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (a.k.a. “mascara”)

I first saw Ardency Inn (founded by Gilles Kortzagadarian and Stephane Siboni and promoted by James Vincent) mentioned in the New York Times Style Magazine last spring. The packaging caught my eye, but the products weren’t widely available at the time and the name slipped from my mind. Then last month I was poking around the Sephora site trying to figure out how to update my email address, and there it was! Ardency Inn! Such an unusual name, no wonder I forgot it.

Bad news first, good news last. Right? OK…

✚ For now at least, the Ardency Inn line is only available in-store at select Sephora locations (and online, of course), so if you run out and need a fresh tube, you’ll need to plan accordingly.
✚ As much as I like their logo, that distressed stencil typeface (not to mention the word “Punker”) is causing me small degree of emotional pain. I try to only look at the other, less offensive side of the tube when I’m applying it. That helps considerably.
✚ $24 is a lot to spend on mascara. But hey, it’s still a buck less than Diorshow!

✚ The entire Ardency Inn line is cruelty-free, as are their suppliers.
✚ The tube is chubby and easy to hold.
✚ After so many years of using mascara with now-commonplace silicone brushes, it initially felt strange to go back to a classic curved bristle style. The shape of the wand is perfect, though, and I find that as long as I let the curves of the brush follow the curve of my lash line, it’s very easy to hit even the tiniest hair without also getting mascara globs on my skin.
✚ There is absolutely NO flaking or fallout whatsoever, even after 14+ hours of wear. I also am not seeing any transfer to my eyelids, which has always been an issue for me with mascara.
✚ IT HOLDS A CURL!!! My number-one complaint with mascaras is that they go on too “wet,” and as a result I wind up losing all of the curl and having droopy lashes. That’s not the case here! I’ve actually found that it seems to add curl even if I skip the lash curler (which really only happens if I’m out of silicone pads).
✚ The formula dries really nicely, leaving my lashes feeling soft, not hard or brittle.
✚ I get really good volume and clump-free separation without having to use a lash comb.
✚ No allergic reaction!
✚ I can apply multiple coats if I want to, but one coat actually seems to be enough.
✚ The removal process is pain/tug-free: I don’t need an oil-based remover, it comes off completely with my nightly face wash. Less lash loss and less undereye trauma, hooray!
✚ My eyelashes look like JAZZ HANDS crossed with a house centipede! In other words, perfection.

So there you have it! Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (such a mouthful…), my mascara dream come true. I’m also trying out a few other Ardency Inn products right now (Ultra Lightweight Skin Perfecting Primer, Custom Coverage Concentrate and Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner), but I need more time with them to decide if they’re life-changing. I’ll let you know!

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  • Reply Jaimie September 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    This makes me wish I wore mascara.

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      What’s holding you back?

  • Reply Kelly September 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    SO EXCITED. I am desperate for a good mascara. This is going on my shopping list, stat. Sephora usually has a Friends & Family sale in the fall, so this will definitely make its way into my online cart.

    Have you ever tried Algenist complete eye renewal balm? Someone was raving about it the other day and I was like…must check with Anna! 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      No, I haven’t, but now I’m curious! Must investigate…

  • Reply Laura September 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I’m always looking for a good mascara. I just got a sample in a Birchbox this month that I tried for the first time this morning and it’s already a million times better than the standard pharmacy purchase. Not sure I can justify $24 on mascara, but I appreciate your suggestions always regardless of price. And oof, that typeface on the one side yuck!

  • Reply maggie September 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I am one to spend a good amount of money on make-up…mostly because I am a sucker for packaging – but this sounds awesome as well!

  • Reply Jennifer September 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    totally want to try! BTW, LOVE your nails. Am know going to look back at previous posts (I’m behind!) to see if you discussed said awesome manicure! Also wondering your take on matte nails – are you an advocate?

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks! I haven’t written about this specific manicure, but here are a few posts about the type of manicure it is:

      I’ve been getting Calgel manicures for about a year now, and I really, really love that my nails look good for at least 3-4 weeks…sometimes 5-6 weeks, if I do something like my current set where the new growth is less apparent next to clear gel. I still see the same woman, Sandy, but she’s moved from Sakura to Oh My Nails (also on the LES).

      I’ve tried matte nails a couple of times in the past, but I think they tend to look better in photos than in real life. I had too many issues with scuffing, etc., and they looked cruddy after a day or two.

  • Reply Maggie September 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Ooh, I should check this out! I was a Diorshow fan, but then it seemed like they switched their formula and I found it was leaving residue under my eyes. So then I went to Urban Decay Big Fatty but when I purchased my last tube I learned, to my great disappointment, that they switched the brush to one of those silicone jimjams and I HATED it. Major clumping! Now I’m back on Diorshow but I am not 100% stoked. I got a sample of They’re Real by Benefit and liked that too.

    I did find out after my Big Fatty disappointment that Sephora will take returns on used products if you are unhappy with them, which is good to know when you are spending a small fortune.

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      I tried Benefit’s They’re Real right before the Ardency Inn’s mascara, and I was not impressed. It wasn’t the worst I’ve tried, but I had too many issues with clumping at the ends of my lashes…and I don’t like that weird ball-tipped wand, either.

      I’m glad I’m not the only person who noticed the change in Diorshow’s formula. I was never sure if it was my body chemistry or something, but it was like from one tube to the next I went from love to hate. So smudgy!

    • Kelly September 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Butting in to agree…that Benefit one is just AWFUL.

  • Reply Katherine September 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I recently discovered Bobbi Brown Everything Mascara and it is also great. I am a huge fan of the old school brush and it’s harder and harder to come by.

  • Reply Jade Sheldon-Burnsed September 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Ooo. I have super fair skin and always seem to have issues with flaking and falling. I am currently using the new waterproof formula from Clinique. I really, really like it, but I do with it would hold curl just a bit more. I’m definitely going to have to check out this formula. Your lashes look AMAZING.

  • Reply rachel September 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Sigh, I was worried that it only came in black, and it does. Being a real blond, I need brown or at least brown/black to not look like I’m on stage, but in some ways I’m glad this is not a temptation, since it sounds so up my alley in other ways, because I’m trying to go the more natural route with my personal care products, but I’m finding Mascara to be ones of the hardest ones to replace! Thanks for the update though Anna!

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      I’ve always wondered why mascara comes in any shades other than black, but I guess that’s because I have no idea what it’s like to have fair hair! I must say I do think that fair-haired women (like, say, Mia Farrow) look amazing with black lashes, but I admittedly tend to prefer the less-natural-looking side of things when it comes to eye makeup.

  • Reply Megan September 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    aaahhhhhh i can’t wait to try this! i have been looking for a new mascara since my favorite (tarte 4 day lash stain) was discontinued. i agree with you that my #1 complaint is not being able to hold a curl and being too wet so this is very exciting! i actually do not like the weird silicone brushes so am glad to see it has a normal one. the only other mascara i’ve found that i can tolerate is maybelline falsies but it’s still a teensy bit on the wet side for my taste. can’t wait to try this!

  • Reply Allison September 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    So apparently I’ve been reading your blog for at least five years, because I distinctly remember that post! 🙂 I scooped up all the Max Factor while it was still available, and then moved to Cover GIrl as was suggested by MF. I’m sure you tried the Cover Girl too, but you didn’t like it? I’m a fan – the brush is very similar to the Max Factor one, and the price is right.

    But, since you led me to my current mascara, I will definitely try Ardency Inn!

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Cover Girl Lash Blast (orange tube) is what I’d mostly been using since MF went under, but I was never in love with it — and it’s SUCH a pain to remove. I’m also making an effort to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, so I’m happy to step away from Procter & Gamble.

  • Reply ryan September 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Ohhh, love hearing about new (to me) cruelty free lines. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Joy September 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    My eyes tend to well up with a stray tear or two from a breeze, especially during the colder months. There is nothing that says “waterproof” in the product info–any advice on a great waterproof mascara? Do you think Punker would be prone to run? Thanks!

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Joy, it’s definitely not waterproof since I can remove it with face wash, but I’d describe it as water-resistant. When I splash my face with plain water, it doesn’t immediately run. That said, I also have the teary-eye problem in the winter, and I’ve always gravitated toward waterproof formulas for that reason. I’ll have to update once I’ve had experience with watering eyes and this mascara!

    • Anne September 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Joy, try Blinc mascara. It’s so-called “tube technology,” meaning that it forms a solid tube around each eyelash and doesn’t budge. To remove, splash your eyes with water and it comes off (in little spidery bunches, which is a bit freaky, but it ALL comes off with minimal wiping or pulling).

      It’s available at Sephora (and online at Sephora’s website).

    • Anna @ D16 September 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      I feel the need to step in here and say that Blinc is the absolute WORST mascara I have ever used. It made me look like I had fewer eyelashes, and pull every last bit of curl out. Is rather wear no mascara! Awful, awful.

      Obviously everyone’s experience will be different depending on their lash type and body chemistry, but I can’t not voice my opinion! I’m too passionate about pretty lashes. 😉

  • Reply Turalura September 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    After Max Factor went under, I went through a long period of being disappointed by mascara. Nothing could replace my beloved 2000 Calorie Waterproof, but I have found a good substitute: Cover Girl Professional Waterproof (in the darkest black shade). It’s a dry formula that holds curl, doesn’t smudge or flake, and doesn’t irritate my eyes.

    Before that, I tried Lash Blast (too wet!), Scandaleyes from Rimmel (too wet! too clumpy!), and some random mascara from Almay, all with underwhelming results.

    I’m tempted to try the Ardency Inn products the next time I’m in Sephora. I hesitate to spend $24 on mascara, but I do have a weak spot for luxurious makeup.

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      I have a major weak spot for luxury makeup, as evidenced by the point tally on my VIB Rouge card from Sephora…eek…

  • Reply bonnie September 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    LOL on the typeface and use of the word “punker” – that was literally the first thing I thought when I looked at your photo!

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      I know, it’s so unfortunate! And I get what they were going for, it’s just…not well done.

    • bonnie September 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      by the way — if you truly must go without the bad logo, you might be able to remove it with nail polish remover. I have been known to do this from time to time. yes, I care that much about the packaging I have to look at!

  • Reply Jules September 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    The last mascara I loved was the Max Factor you recommended, and I’m embarrassed of my reaction when it was discontinued. The only mascara I loved before that was from Avon, of all places, and that also was also discontinued. That one was so awesome that I actually scoured ebay for tubes until I freaked myself out thinking about shady sellers and germs. Since then, I’ve been getting by on tubes of meh.

    Totally buying this, 2004 distressed typeface notwithstanding.

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Yikes! Yeah, vintage mascara is where I draw the line, haha. I think you’ll like this — let me know!

  • Reply Judi September 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Wow. After linking to this very welcome post (still searching for a replacement for Fiberwig since they changed their formula), I went over to Sephora and was entranced by the concept (mascara based on the idea of light hold hair wax…so sensible!). Naturally, I immediately threw this in my basket…along with an AI lipstick in Ladder 15. I’m still looking for a lipstick that doesn’t feather or irritate my lips (Lipstick Queen, MAC, and even Aveda all do) so I’m dying to try Ardency Inn! All five-star reviews…and seemingly “matte yet creamy.” A girl can dream, right?

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      I haven’t tried the Ardency Inn lipsticks yet, but I’ll probably ask for a small, clean sample next time I’m at Sephora. I’m really interested in the sheer black lip pencil, actually…

  • Reply oh Holland September 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Just in time! Gave up lash extensions, which look amazing, but only for a while. And it’s not fun to consider the cost per each fallen lash. Punker, here I come. Thanks.

    • Anna @ D16 September 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      That’s pretty much what I’ve heard about lash extensions — they look great until they don’t!

  • Reply JAY September 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Such long lashes! Also, I really want to see more of your nails. I really need nail insperation that is minimal and fresh!

  • Reply bekah September 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Check out Lipstick Queen’s ‘Chinatown’ glossy pencils in the ‘Genre’ color, it has a great bold color like your MAC lipstick, but super creamy and better coverage!

  • Reply Sarah September 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Funny. Just today I was thinking about getting new mascara and was going to look up your old post. So excited to try this brand!

  • Reply ajay September 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    That was great post, Well one of my friends was also looking for mascara and here i foeund it. Thanks a ton.

  • Reply Catherine September 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Okay, I just bought this! I liked DiorShow, but hated the fake rose smell. And then I’ve just been using Maybelline Great Last with the fat brush, which I actually really like. But I’d love to try something with more oomph, so here I go…

  • Reply kate September 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Oh man, I love me some Diorshow, but I’m always up for trying something new, and your lashes look amazzzzing. I’ve spent so much money trying makeup for my wedding, they upgraded me to some special form of VIB status with free 2 day shipping online anytime, so that’s pathetic and awesome.

    • Anna @ D16 September 21, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Yes. I have that status as well…VIB Rouge. And I never cash in my points, so they really just serve as a cruel reminder of how much cash I lay out on cosmetics. 😛

  • Reply tess September 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    darnit. I head to Sephora to go for the mascara and end up with a cart full of stuff. 😛

    • Anna @ D16 September 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Yeah. I hear you…

    • tess September 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      I should probably be embarrassed at the excess but I’ve used Diorshow (raccoon eyes), Bobbi Brown (not long lasting, upper eye markage), Clinique (too wet), Maybelline (too wet and didn’t separate lashes), Almay (raccoon eyes and yet also hard to remove), Cover Girl (clumpy), Rimmel (too wet, clumpy, smudgey, and stupid magic wand for applying).

      I had settled on Lancôme Definicils Waterproof which was mostly good but hard to remove. I am almost at the bottom of that and appreciate the solid recommendation!

    • Anna @ D16 September 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      My mascara reject list is surpassed only by my concealer reject list! It’s truly shameful.

    • tess September 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      they should pay us as testers. 🙂

  • Reply Lynnie September 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Oooh I will definitely have to add this to the wish list for my next trip to the States. My holy grail mascara (to date) is Lancome Virtuouse, which has a similar spoon shaped brush and does well with holding a curl. However the formula is ever so slightly on the too wet side so this sounds like it could be a good alternative – thanks for sharing.

  • Reply petal and plume September 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    oh, this sounds lush! i am such a sucker or mascaras. a date to sephora soon is a must!

  • Reply Donna September 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Wow. Just tried this and it’s amazing. My eyes don’t feel like they are burning or wet, great coverage and such a light but effective formula. I hated wearing mascara but suffered through it since I have light brown lashes. Thanks for the great recommendation. I am even wearing it on the weekend which I NEVER used to like to.

    • Anna @ D16 September 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Oh, yay! I’m glad you like it, Donna. I just convinced my mother to buy a tube, too. 🙂

  • Reply jen September 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Quick question from another huge mascara fan: just applied this for the first time with high hopes… definitely I like the fullness – very nice! But the mascara is very dry and I didn’t see a lot of lengthening – not what I’d expected. Lashes appear a bit fuzzy. Can anyone comment? Have I purchased an old tube or do these characteristics seem in keeping with your experiences? Thanks, Mascara fans!

    • Anna @ D16 September 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Jen, I haven’t experienced any fuzziness (if by that you mean clumping?), but I definitely wouldn’t describe this as a lengthening mascara — but then I personally tend to not like lengthening formula since I already have really long (but sparse) lashes. I’m a volume-loving kinda gal. I also tend to like “dry” formulas like this one, since wet mascaras pull out the curl. Without being able to try your tube I can’t tell you if yours is different from mine, of course.

      Next time you put it on, try doing one quick, even coat rather than doing the whole “wiggle + build” thing. I find that with this mascara I don’t really even need two coats or special application techniques. I just let the mascara do the work!

    • Jen September 26, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Thanks, Anna. I appreciate your rigorous approach to mascara-wearing [necessary!] It sounds like my tube is right on track. Thinking back I definitely wiggled-to-build (oops) without realizing and lashes became kind of thick. Will apply a quick even coat tomorrow morning and will surely be thinking of you and your readers while doing so! Thanks again for the input and the hot tip.

  • Reply Catherine October 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Anna, I had to come back and tell you that I’ve had the mascara for over a week now, and I love it! I’ve never worn dry mascara before, so I do have to do a bit of combing, but it’s worth it. I’ve also never worn false lashes, and I’m always skeptical about how well a mascara really works. But this one is amazing, and I love how soft my lashes feel, like I’m not wearing mascara. Thanks so much for sharing Ardency Inn, because I don’t think I would know about it otherwise. We don’t often get cool things like this down here in Texas. 😛

  • Reply leslie October 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Ok, lady. I am in… just ordered and can’t wait to receive 🙂

  • Reply Jemma November 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Anna, I really want to try this mascara but Sephora doesn’t ship overseas so I am depending on my brother in law to pick me up a tube when he is in NY with work. He told me there is a Sephora right near his hotel which is The Gansevoort (18th Ave I think?) so I was just wondering if you could tell me if that could be one of the stores that stock the mascara. I have been told in no uncertain terms he will not be traipsing around NY looking for mascara for me! Jemma x

    • Jemma November 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Actually, 9th Ave I think.

    • Anna @ D16 November 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Jemma, there’s a link in the post to the Sephora stores that stock Ardency Inn products:

      If you want to make sure they have it in stock, give them a ring to make sure. 🙂

    • Jemma November 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      I just cross checked the list on googlemaps and it looks like I’m out of luck! The 9th Ave one isn’t on there. No dancing centipede eyes for me!

  • Reply Nancy November 5, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Jazz hands x centipede!? I’m in.

  • Reply Sarisa November 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Because of your post, this mascara somehow “fell into my cart” during the Sephora 20% off sale. Your description is spot on and it is now totally my favorite. Thanks!

  • Reply Denise January 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    After seeing your recent IG photo with those “lashes for days” (as another commenter said), I am so excited to try this mascara! (I’m picky about mascara. I can go without makeup, but choose never to skip mascara.) I’m curious if it will come off with oil, however, since I use (and now swear by) the oil cleansing method for my face. But I’ll buy and find out myself. I’m sold on your IG “proof.” 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 January 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Hi Denise, it will definitely come off with oil! It comes off even with just face wash and water. It’s not waterproof, but somehow miraculously doesn’t smudge. (It does run if you cry, though.)

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