Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough As Taupe

If the internet is to be believed, Maybelline's Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe will solve a huge percentage of your makeup-related problems. It's billed as an eyeshadow, but internet-y people proclaim its efficacy for both contouring and for filling in eyebrows. Reports make it sounds so magical that I had to buy it and figure out if it deserves any love as a cheap-as-a-motherfucker option for products you don't frequently find at the drugstore.


If you have never had a Color Tattoo, you should know that they come in little glass pots. You can either stick your fingers right in the products like a finger-painting toddler and/or me, or you can be an adult and use a brush.


The product is cool-toned as fuck and extremely opaque. It almost reads more like a purple-ish gray than a taupe color, although there is definitely some taupe-y brown to be found when you blend it out a little bit. The texture is very firm and dry. It feels almost like you are using slightly-dried out clay as a beauty product.


I divided my review into each of the potential purposes for this product:

Tough as Taupe as Eyeshadow

Given that Maybelline is advertizing this as a part of their "Eyestudio" line, one would imagine that this ought to make a pretty kickass eyeshadow. And... well... it's fine. There's nothing wrong with it. The color is just boring as hell! The good news is that if you like the color, it has excellent pigmentation, it's not unreasonably difficult to blend, and it has very good staying power for a cream eyeshadow.

Maybelline's Tough as Taupe as Eyeshadow

Tough as Taupe for Contouring

The next possible function of this product is contouring! There is a serious dearth of acceptable drugstore contouring products. Contouring has exploded in popularity thanks to the internet machine, but most good taupe-y contouring products are mid-range or high-end. As a result, people who are contouring with drugstore products are frequently using bronzer as a contour. The fact is, that is just not the most flattering contour option on most people. Although I do suspect that drugstore brands will "catch up", for the time being, most drugstore buyers are up shit creek without a paddle if they want a natural-looking contour. I was hoping that this product might help fill that gap.

Tough as Taupe is a good level-of-coolness to work as a contour. Unfortunately, it is very dark. (Scroll up, check out that swatch again, and imagine that swiped across your cheek in a big line!) It takes the subtlest hand of all time to get the right amount of product on your face. And, even then, blending is really patchy and tricky. I imagine that women with darker skin than I (medium skin would be preferable) will like this better than I do, but you can make it work on fair skin with a little invested effort. However, no matter what your skintone, it is so difficult to work with that I would not recommend this to anyone who is thinking, "Hm. Contouring. That is something I should try for the first time!". This would probably be best for people who are really experienced with contouring, but can't fit their chosen contour product into their budget anymore.

I don't hate it as a contour. I actually like the final effect, even though I feel that I have to struggle a little to get there. When I travel, I like to use products that don't need brushes (so I can pack less) and that are cheap enough that I don't care if I lose them. This has been the contour product I grabbed on my last few trips out-of-town. It's not a solution to the lack of acceptable drugstore contouring products, but it is definitely something that can work for the right people in the right circumstances.

Maybelline's Tough as Taupe as a Contour

Tough as Taupe for Eyebrows 

Finally, I frequently hear that this is a great option for filling in light brown eyebrows. For those of you who don't already know, I am a really big fan of cream eyebrow products because I find them really easy to work with. Thus, Tough as Taupe won some extra points for that alone.

Sadly, this didn't work for me at all. Although my skin leans cool, my hair is pretty warm-toned. As a result, Tough as Taupe is too gray; it just reads as "gray eyebrows" when I use it. It fills the brows in nicely and it is easy to use, so if you have very cool-toned hair, it might be a decent choice for you.

Here's how I look with no eyebrow product on:

No Eyebrows

Here is how I look with Tough as Taupe filling in my brows:

Maybelline's Tough as Taupe as a Brow Filler

For me, this product comes close, but is a miss on all three potential uses. I definitely think that there are people who this can work for. If you like the eyeshadow color and/or think that it will go nicely with your other cream eyeshadows, you might want to pick it up as a shadow. If you are medium-toned and experienced in contouring, it might work well as a contour product. And, last but not least, if you have very cool-toned light brown hair, you might like this as an eyebrow product. If you're not one of those people, I think it's less likely that you will find that it suits your purposes. (Still, it is inexpensive enough that for most budgets, it won't be a huge regret, even if you don't love it!)

Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoos retail for $6.99 for 0.14oz, putting them at $49.93 per ounce.

45 comments:

  1. This is why I love your blog, girl. I have tons of Color Tattoos... Thanks for giving me a new way to use them! I will totally be trying the taupe on my brows. I've been trying to find an eye brown product that will last all day, and since these last all day on my lids, I'm optimistic!!

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    1. If you already have it, you should definitely give it a shot as both a contour and as a brow product, just in case you love it!

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  2. I think multi-use products are sorely lacking in the drugstore aisles, akimbo to your 'up a creek' analogy. This is a great take. Did you feel like TaT was a bit ashy for brows? I wonder if it's lip safe too. P.S. As a science gal myself, your intellectual take and startling beauty paired with snark is refreshing.

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    1. I tend to not love multi-use products even in higher price ranges! I feel like they tend to do a crappier job than multiple single-use products. It's like the two-in-one-shampoo-and-conditioner of makeup.

      And yeah, it was way too ashy and gray for my brows! (Also thank you!)

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  3. Do you use NYX Taupe blush for contour? I'm super ghosty pale and that's all I've been able to find that doesn't look like dirt or oompa loompa.

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    1. At a drugstore pricepoint, NYX Taupe is pretty much all I know of. If you are willing to spend more, Illamasqua's Hollow is my HG. The color is perfect and it is so easy to use it's ridiculous. If you contour on a regular basis, I would try to find room in your budget.

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    2. pumpkin and poppy on etsy has a contour powder called oak bark! i haven't tried it myself, but i've heard nothing but good things.

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    3. MAC has a range of contour products you can by online in the pro line. The problem is that they are meant to be put in MAC palettes so they just come as a pan in a little envelope, But they have something like 6-8 colors and mine fits with my skin tone really well.

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    4. Pumpkin and Poppy is totally on my list!

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  4. Looking at your photos, I didnt think it's a miss though! Of course, it's not applicable to all skintones but as a product that could be used in three ways, I think it's definitely a YES. Thank you for presenting these unusual ways - definitely refreshing!

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    1. I am personally way happier to buy three products that do a better job than one product that doesn't do quite what I want. (Especially for the brows: to me those brows were so painful that I considered washing the product off in the middle of my day!) However, it is definitely up to you whether or not this increases or decreases your interest in Tough as Taupe. :)

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  5. I am cool toned to a fault and my eyebrows and roots of my hair are nearly gray (blonde). This and the Maybelline eyebrow pencil (the little red ones) are the best cool toned eyebrow products at the drug store. I never thought to contour with it because I have the NYX taupe blush and that's much easier to use. I also use the taupe color tattoo for an eye shadow base for shimmery shadows, sometimes just to get the orange tones down and staying power.

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    1. I can definitely see this working really nicely on the brows of people with cooler hair!

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  6. I'm sort of a lip freak, so I need to know what lipstick you have in the second picture, please! It's so deep yet has enough dimension to pull off during the day.

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  7. Perhaps I'm crazy, I don't hate it on your brows. I've also been going out with gold glitter eyebrows, so I'm maybe drawn to them being a little "off." Anyway, agreed that I would rather pay more for 3 products better suited to each use than use this one for any of them. I do like the color from the swatch pic, though.

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    1. I can do wacky brows no problem, but I feel like this is the "uncanny valley" of eyebrows. ;)

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  8. Huh! I love this as eyeshadow and love finding new uses for products, but somehow never considered using this for contouring or brows. I think my hair is also too warm. I wonder if the waxy ingredients would make it comedogenic on the fact, though. I haven't actually looked up the ingredients. I might do that. Thanks for the ideas!

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    1. I haven't broken out from it, but YMMV.

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  9. I've actually used this as a gel liner with pretty good effect. But I am pretty much willing to wear ANY shade as eyeliner given the opportunity, and even I've only worn it a few times as a liner. I also like it as a base shade for some eyeshadow looks, but it's definitely when I want to work varying textures into a look, so I tend to use it as a main lid shade/base + sparkly powder shadows as highlights or crease colors.

    I'm not cool toned enough to even try the contour/brow thing.

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    1. You might try it as a contour just in case. I prefer cooler products for contours even on warm skin. Bronzer as a contour looks off to me 99% of the time.

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  10. I've heard a lot about this product, but it's definitely too dark for me! I do like it as an eyeshadow, though, and it's good that there's another cool-toned option out there fullstop.

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    1. It would definitely be easier to handle on tanner skin!

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  11. I have one tattoo color and I don't really like it. It's the light champagne-ish shimmery color. I thought that it would be a good dupe for this limited edition MAC paint pot that I have but it just fails all around. The texture is very weird if I get too much on my finger - it starts to ball up.

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    1. I have a few and have found that they are all VERY different. I don't have any that I love, though.

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  12. I've been looking at the OCC Creme Color concentrate in "John Doe" as a contour product; any experience with that?

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    1. Whoops didn't see this post! I just wrote about it in-depth down-thread. Huge fan!

      http://www.brightestbulbinthebox.com/2014/02/review-maybelline-color-tattoo-in-tough.html?showComment=1391627895546#c3506800324180068777

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    2. I haven't tried it, but Celia is my friend who has a similar skintone and she loves it!

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  13. Bronzer is the best contouring product on my weird orange toned skin...

    http://mattekat.blogspot.ca/

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    1. There are definitely some people who can pull it off, but there are also definitely more people that try it than fit in that category, haha.

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  14. Thank you for the review. I really enjoy reading, because I'm not an experienced makeup user, and the user-friendliness reviews are very useful for me in deciding when to branch out. (And because you are hilarious.)

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    1. Thank you! I'm always in favor of people trying new things. :)

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  15. This looked nice on you in all the photos! Though I agree there are better matches out there for your hair color. I tried Tough as Taupe for contouring a while back and even though I'm darker than you (it was in the summer, so NW30ish) it was still kind of dark. And I couldn't get it blended at all without rubbing off all my foundation and concealer :-P

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    1. Yeah, it's not easy to work with at all. I feel like I should make it look nice if it is possible to do so, though.

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  16. I thought the brow usage didn't look terrible on you, but yeah - a bit cool-toned and "gray" looking. I've had that Tarte brow mousse on my radar forever (since I read about it on your blog), but $28, ouch. Did you see Anastasia has a similar product now? It's only $18. Thinking I might have to try it.

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    1. I didn't! What is it called?

      For a slightly-cheaper-than-tarte option: I've been using MUFE Aqua Brow recently and have been digging it.

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    2. It has the weirdest name ever: Dipbrow Pomade. WTFLOL? http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod6330246

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  17. While I do love many of the Color Tattoos as bases and pigments, I could imagine this being difficult for contouring (as you said) and I'm quite experienced with it. It's not entirely comparable because it is a high-end product, but I know we recently discussed John Doe by OCC in their Creme Colour Concentrate line. It's also a cool, ashy, taupey-brown with multiple uses. The formula is gorgeous and makes for an effective eyeshadow/shadow base, interesting lip color, but most of all an extremely excellent contour (haven't tried it on my brows but I imagine that could work. It's a browner than Tough as Taupe). I switched from Hollow by Illamsqua to OCC's John Doe recently and I'll never look back.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on it one day, Robyn. I received the recommendation somewhere in the comments on this site (likely on a piece featuring Hollow). Much like Hollow, it's best for paler people as a contour. I am ivory/porcelain neutral. There are other colors on Sephora, but I recommend going to OCC's site as they have a wider range there and thus more options for more skin tones. Thanks for the honest review (I loved it best as an eye shadow on you. I think I prefer some of the funkier Color Tattoos in general but you look lovely as always)!

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    1. Oh! Forgot to add I think John Doe is very user-friendly. It's highly blendable and easily buildable so it's easy to practice with. I've applied it with fingers, small contouring brushes, and various eye shadow brushes now and all worked great and lasted well without harsh lines. I would recommend this to any skill level of contouring, though practicing with something less expensive first might be good ;)

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    2. I've been debating asking you to mail it to me, Celia. :) I'll mail it back! I promise!

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    3. Haha yes. A Miriam/John Doe swap, perhaps...

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  18. I love Tough as Taupe for an eyeshadow base when I use my Naked 2 palette. I think it's perfect as a base.

    I've recently been interesting about contouring and have wanted to give it a try. I would love to see a "contouring for beginners" post with tips and tricks!

    xoxo

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    1. That's one of the posts I have been procrastinating on for ages! I want to enlist friends of different face shapes/skin colors so that people who don't happen to look exactly like me can still find something that works.

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  19. I was disappointed in this product because I found it more gray than taupe. The color that is sort of sitting on top of it, visible around the edges of yours, is what I wanted from it. A taupe that is right between gray and brown (as a taupe should be, really). But on me, it reads almost entirely gray. I don't like gray eyeshadow very much so I don't use it very often.

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  20. My eyebrows are so ashy they're damn near grey, I already own this so I'll give this a try next. So far the only product I've found that matches mine is anastasia beverly hills brow powder duo in taupe. The auburn made for strawberry blondes like me what laughably bad.

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