“I remember when I was little, I was watching the Phil Donahue show or something—that shows how old I am—and they were doing makeovers and they took all these ladies that had been wearing the same makeup for 20 years—you know, the green eye shadow, red lips, bouffant red hairdo, that type of lady. These were ladies who had never had their hair and makeup done any other way. I remember seeing the final makeovers and I was so devastated by how boring they made these women look…and how they looked kind of deflated, kind of disappointed, like they didn’t want to be made-over. Don’t take a lady’s green eyeshadow away. I think that there shouldn’t be makeup rules. I love reading beauty stuff, but when they start with the rules about makeup, I get really worked up.”
-Dita Von Teese, as told to Into the Gloss in a fantastic article Monday.
You know that tired old magazine question they always ask celebrities or models: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one makeup product, what would it be? The question never specifies why you would want a cosmetics product on a desert island. Are there other stranded people on the island? Is this a Lost situation? Are the other people hot?
The idea of needing makeup in deserted exile is probably pretty silly for most people. But the true beauty addicts know: it’s almost impossible to choose just one. Hell, even if nobody is around, what if I get rescued? By cute Coast Guard guys? What if I come across a reflective surface and get scarred for life? What if I just get bored and want to look cute for no particular reason? I SHOULD HAVE THAT RIGHT. I mean, I’m stranded, for god’s sake. Let me have this.
So while Chapstick and mascara are some pretty solid contenders, I’m pretty sure I’d have to go with a nice matte brown shadow. I use that stuff for everything. A smoky brown eye is my daily go-to, I fill in my eyebrows with an angled brush if I’m out of brow pencil, and it’s perfect for contouring under my cheekbones (subtlety is key here — fan brush or angled blush brush, shade out the hollows of your cheeks and blend the shit out of it — or risk looking like you got caught in a Stevie Nicks music video from the ’80s).
You gotta love a product that can multi-task that well. And it doesn’t even need to be a super high-end brand. I’ve used shadows from Maybelline, Revlon, and Cover Girl, and they work just as well as anything from Bobbi Brown, Lancome, or Laura Mercier. Just make sure it’s matte. Your eyebrows will look weird if they’re all sparkly. Ditto your contouring.
What can’t you live without?
In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.
Gawker made fun of Brit Morin’s “Pretty Zombie” makeup tutorial today. I don’t know who she is either, but we all know Halloween is a time to look hot, not scary. If you’re too lazy to buy a two-foot $39.99 piece of Spandex from Spirit Halloween, Brit has you covered. Look ugly-pretty with items from your own makeup drawer!
Here are the steps:
- Apply primer to your face, as you would if you were applying normal make-up, because that’s all you’re doing, is applying normal make-up.
- Apply a foundation that is one shade lighter than your natural skin. WHOA WHO’S THAT DEAD GIRL? It’s you.
- Instead of applying brown bronzer, as you normally would, apply gray bronzer (eyeshadow). Do NOT skip this step, as it constitutes almost the entirety of your costume.
- Add “a touch of brightening powder” over the gray “to soften the look.” Dial that grey back. Dial it way, way back.
- Brush your eyelids with a couple neutral shades of shadow. Start with something “vanilla-like” on the inner eyelid, moving to “beige” on the outer. Don’t be afraid to get really crazy here, experimenting with the rainbow spectrum of beige—it’s Halloween—but don’t get really crazy.
- Use an espresso shade to give yourself a great smoky eye. Above all, keep it subtle. You want to look dead, not like you’re from Jersey.
- Use eyeliner and mascara to help give your lashes “a fuller look.”
- Line your bottom lash with red lip liner. The tutorial suggests using a lip liner that one commenter later pointed out is not eye safe and could lead to eye irritation or even vision loss. Follow your heart on this one. (You can’t follow your eyes because you are blind now.)
- Put red lipstick on.
It should be noted that I used my own makeup kit as a costume one year, but these were my results:
Nobody’s going to accidentally have sex with that zombie.
Nope, they will know exactly what they’re getting into.
There is a tone of discouragement running through this series like a seam of mold in a block of bleu cheese. That ain’t me. I’m the curd and I’m here to say, “You go girl!”
I have been raised almost entirely among men. I have two brothers, no sisters. Of my 12 cousins there is one girl, a tomboy 20 years younger than me. I went to Catholic school, where the girls are able to grow their mustaches before the boys. I have paid the same attention to my sundry lady friends’ beauty routines as they have the fluctuations in the roster of the New York Knicks. The result? You have me totally fooled. Makeup, hair tricks, perfumes. I actually believe this is how you look and smell. I am content to assume that female tear ducts secrete eye liner, their pores the scent of lilacs and lavender or whatever.
There is one thing that does not fool me: bronzer. I am pale by birth (Nordic stock) and by lifestyle. I don’t climb mountains for a living; I sit at a desk and write beauty articles for a law firm. I realize how hard it can be to incite melanin production. That said, I have had visions of the future and they concern me. I feel duty bound to reveal them here. You won’t find this information anywhere else.
Based on my desire to take this article where I want it to go, beauty trends have a way of pushing the envelope, finding extremes and going beyond to magnificent new frontiers in the field of good looks. Today, you ladies are using bronzer. The Arms Race and Space Race each escalated exponentially. The Face Race will be no different. Before too long, a simple coating of light orange will not be enough. Soon to follow will be the new product, bronzest. Taking note of the Olympian ideal, we know bronze is trumped only by silver and gold. Now look, I like Star Trek probably more than the next guy. I could get down with robo-chicks. But ladies, you’re not robots. All that fucking paint is gonna get everywhere, more specifically all over my stuff. I just washed these sheets fer chrissakes. And you’re already beautiful the way Jesus and Buddha made you: with your blue shaded eye spaces and perfectly arched eyebrows, the way light catches your permanently flushed cheeks. You works of art, you.
This is the first we’ve heard of Todd’s supersecret beauty/law job. Also, he is a doublespacer. The world should know.
Ah, bronzer. At best, it can make you look vibrant and healthy. At worst, it can make you look like a Jersey Shore cast member’s pillowcase (are we still making those references? whatever, I’m doing it).
Easy, no-muss bronzing: find a finely-milled matte bronzer and apply with a fan brush. The sparseness of the fan brush’s bristles will ensure a sheer, idiot-proof wash of color (idiot). Bronzing can not only save a too-light foundation application, it can contour your face as well. Apply on high planes of the face where the sun would naturally hit (forehead, nose, cheekbones, a tiny bit on the chin). For contouring, brush into temples, the hollow space under your cheekbones, and under your jawline. You can also brush it over your collarbone and shoulders for a nice sun-kissed glow. As always, don’t forget to blend that shit.
Sometimes my friends ask me for help (halp! in internetspeak), even more so now that this blog has established me as The Universe’s Leading Cosmetics expert. From my friend Leela:
Alright, make up lady here are some Q’s for ya:
-what is a mattifying balm and which one should i get?
-transluscent powder – is that the ‘mineral veil’ in bare minerals (if not, please recommend)?
-blotting sheets – oil absorbing paper?
Okay, darlin. Mattifying balm/gel/lotion/etc. is just what it sounds like — stuff you put on your face to matte your complexion. I know a lot of people who swear by Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood ($29). It lasts a long time and comes in the most adorable retro tin. They’ve been making it as long as I’ve been in the Cult of Sephora (you bet I drink the Kool-Aid), so you know it’s a classic.
My favorite, though, is Smashbox Targeted Pore & Line Primer ($34). A Smashbox artist I used to work with often said, “It gives you Barbie skin!” and while that’s a tad hyperbolic, it’s as close as most of us are gonna get. This isn’t a primer like Smashbox’s other primers; it goes on much more smoothly over makeup as opposed to being a base. It’s a spot-fixer. Squeeze a pea-sized amount, warm it between your fingers, and pat onto the texturized areas you’d like to smooth out and oil-control (most likely that’ll be the T-zone area). Bonus: packed with skincare ingredients like peptides and antioxidants. I love it when my instant gratification promises long-term benefits. It’d be like if pizza were all, “Yeah, I taste good now and I’m negative calories tomorrow.”
Sigh. Sorry, where were we?
Translucent powder is powder without pigment. It has the function of setting your makeup in place and keeping it there (it’s so awkward when your makeup tries to make a run for it. We’ve all seen it). The best ones right now actually contain a magic pore-blurring ingredient called Silica. My favorites are Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder ($32), Smashbox Photo Set Finishing Powder ($28), and Too Faced Primed & Poreless Powder ($28). These will all minimize pores and fine lines while setting makeup and controlling oil. Bonus: they can be used in your hair for oil control! I kid you not.
And finally, you press blotting sheets onto your skin for a touch-up when you start to feel oily. They won’t smudge your makeup, and they’re über-portable. The nice thing about these is that you’re not caking on more makeup on top of makeup (which can start looking heavy), but the downside is that they’re hardly eco-friendly. Boscia Blotting Linens ($10) are Sephora’s most popular brand, but I like MAC Blot Film ($15) because I feel like they pick up more oil (plus you can better see how much they’ve picked up — gross and satisfying!). Weird but true trick: paper toilet seat covers work in a pinch. You’re welcome.
Today’s post is dedicated to completely ridiculous beauty items I wish I had thought to market first. I’m basically the universe’s biggest sucker when it comes to beauty purchases, so if I think it’s silly? It’s probably pretty silly. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t buy it. People are dumb.
First up, The Lash Card. Says Birchbox: “Sometimes the rest of your face just gets in the way when you’re applying mascara. Even when you’re careful, it inevitably smudges on your eye lid and below your bottom lashes. Now there’s a way to prevent these common snafus: Lash Card, based on the makeup artist trick of using a cut out business card. This thick card keeps smears away and can also be used to separate any clumps.”
Okay, now I’m all for buying unnecessary things, but if you actually include a cheap, practical, eco-friendly alternative in your product description? Your product is probably silly.
Also, “Sometimes the rest of your face just gets in the way when you’re applying mascara“? Sounds like the intro to an SNL commercial parody. There are so many ways to mock this I can’t even decide on one.
There’s a better way: Apply mascara while looking down. If you fuck up, a Q-tip dipped in a small dot of silcone-based primer (Smashbox, Tarte, and most other brands) will erase mascara mistakes without smearing your eye makeup. Try it: it’s magic.
Next up, Glam Ears! I’m already hopping up and down at the name of this product. From Beauty Army: “Say goodbye to ear burns and hello to GlamEars! Protect your ears from burns when using hot styling tools, such as curling irons, flat irons, blow dryers, and hot rollers. These tools heat to excess of 400 degrees, causing serious burns to delicate ear tissue.”
Or, you know, you could just be careful. Now, I’m a massive spaz and am no stranger to burn marks on my neck that look suspiciously like hickeys, but maybe turn off Real Housewives while you’re curling your hair and you should be okay. Bonus: these come in different colors so you can match your outfit while looking like an idiot.
There’s a better way: Pay attention, dork.
Every Drop Beauty Spatula promises you weeks of extra use out of your last sludgy drops of lipgloss/what-have-you. Now, having worked in retail for many years, I’m no stranger to the incredible cheapness of some consumers, but come on. First off, I’ve probably used up like three tubes of lipgloss in my entire life (almost certainly this, and I was eleven). Secondly, the stuff at the bottom of the tube is probably all old and grimy, and possibly expired. And you’re saving yourself, what, a dollar’s worth? Yuck.
There’s a better way: Think of the last few drops as your gross backwash, toss it, and get yourself a nice fresh one. Or look at it as an opportunity to switch things up and find a new favorite!
Lastly, the Beauty Fixation Makeup Remover. While in possession of an excellent product name, it’s essentially Q-tips soaked in makeup remover. Which you can duplicate at home by, well, soaking Q-tips in makeup remover. Ostensibly the benefit to these is that they’re travel-friendly, but honestly, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been out of the house and needed a Q-tip soaked in makeup remover. While I’m doing my makeup at home, yes, but who draws all over their face during a touch-up? Extra points taken away for using the term “boo-boo” in the product description. For shame.
There’s a better way: If you find yourself making a lot of mistakes while you’re out and trying to touch up your makeup, you’re doing it wrong.
And I went to Sephora’s website to try to find some silly stuff there but I ended up buying this despite having all of those brushes already so I banned myself from exploring any further. Sorry.
Did you have a little too much fun last night? Did you drink all the things? Or maybe you just stayed up late clicking through all of your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook photos and crying [author has never done either of these things]. Either way, your alarm just went off and you’re scared to look in the mirror, right? Well, you should be. You look like hell. But don’t worry! You can put things on your face to fool people into thinking you’re functional! [Note: I will be providing links to products so that you can buy them. They will probably mostly be to the same site, and that is because I am in an unhealthy one-sided relationship with Sephora. Seriously, baby, why don’t you return my calls?]
First off, get in the shower. You smell like cheap champagne and regret.
While you’re in there, take off all your smudged eye makeup with some good eye-friendly cleanser. I like Philosophy’s Purity. I’ve had my $32 16 oz. for over a year now, probably because I only use it in the shower. Solid investment. It’ll getcha squeaky clean in a gentle (chamomile-infused!) fashion, and it wins Best of Sephora every time for a reason.
Now you need to give yourself a good exfoliation to brighten up your complexion, increase circulation, and get rid of all those dead skin cells. Just because I’m obsessed with Kate Somerville’s ridiculously expensive Exfolikate doesn’t mean you have to be (seriously, Kate, $85 for 2 oz.? And can we take a second to talk about how .5 goes for $19, but 2 oz. is $85? Is it possible that you’re worse at math than I am?). It’s undeniably fantastic, with small grains and fruit enzymes that exfoliate chemically as well as physically (it’s supposed to tingle, but if it’s burning, wash it off and try the gentle version). I use it in the shower 2-3x a week. If you can’t part with the cash, good old St. Ives Apricot Scrub ($3) will do you just fine.
After your shower, moisturize immediately. Since alcohol/lack of sleep are drying, you’ll probably want something with even more hydration than usual to plump up your skin. My go-to when I’m feeling parched is Caudalie Pulpe Vitaminée ($58). Immediately quenches, has great antioxidants and natural stress-relieving botanicals, and smells delicious. However, I just started using a sample of Sephora’s (relatively new) Instant Moisturizer, which at $20 for 1.7 is much more wallet-friendly, and you get that same instant “hey look now I’m moisturized” feeling. I’ll probably pick some up when I’m done toothpaste-squeezing my sample.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your eyes are puffy. They just are. If you’re looking for a miracle worker, Dior Capture Totale Instant Eye Rescue Treatment ($95) is astonishing. I’ve seen this sucker take out the puffiest of eye bags in under a minute. You squeeze a bit of the magic energizing cream (Dior is pretty vague about product descriptions and ingredients, but I’m pretty sure it involves virgin blood) onto the perpetually-cool palladium tip and press/massage into your suborbital eye area. I swear this stuff is amazing. I’ve never owned it, personally, because I am not independently wealthy and nobody has ever seen fit to give me one for free (weird, right?). If you’re looking for a less expensive option, Clinique’s Depuffing Eye Serum ($28) has a nice little cooling rollerball, and you can even use it over makeup during the day to refresh (I’d say it’s “Like a 3 pm cup of coffee for your eyes!” but I am obviously above such things). Drugstore brands are always coming out with versions of these as well.
By the way, if you absolutely can’t wash your hair, dry shampoo is your best friend. I’m partial to the classic Pssssst!, which doesn’t leave a residue and smells delicious, and my friend Hilary — who has enviable hair and has tried ’em all — swears by Suave. Dry shampoo is also awesome for when you get a little overexcited with your styling lotion and end up being able to see your reflection in your hair.
I’m not going to go through all the usual makeup steps. You already know about primers, foundation, etc. Here are just a couple of products and some tips that’ll perk you up and make you look more human.
Touche Éclat, YSL ($40). I resisted this one for a long time. “Yeah, yeah, cult product, blah blah,” I thought. “I have a million highlighters, I have a million concealers, what could possibly be so great about this one? Plus, $40? Ouch.” And then I got a sample. Slight digression: I’m going to do a post on sampling services like Birchbox and Beauty Army very soon, but while I’m on the subject, let me just say that samples are your friend. They’ll help you discover products you’d never dreamed of trying, or items that seemed too expensive to bother with but upon sampling are actually your holy grail. They’re also handy for travel. I am also planning a post on how to get the most out of your department store counter experience (and I’ll probably throw some Sephora know-how in there, since I’ve worked for both types of retailers), and it will definitely involve some real talk on samples. Aaaanyway. Touche Éclat, annoyingly, lives up to the hype. It’s creamy yet lightweight, with enough coverage to replace your undereye concealer but not enough weight to call attention to fine lines. Plus it has the added bonus of a bit of artificial light in there to brighten you up. There’s a great selection of shades based on skin tone and undertones (BTW, my biggest advice for concealer is don’t go too light. The reverse raccoon does no one any favors; you may as well hang a sign around your neck that says HAHA NOW YOU CAN’T SEE MY DARK CIRCLES).
Also, guess what. They have one for dudes now, too. Progressive!
Smashbox Eye Beam Double-Ended Brightener ($24) has saved me on a few occasions. One side of the pencil is a highlighter, great for under the brow or in the inner corners of the eyes, but the other side is what’s truly useful — it’s for your inner rim/waterline. Covers the inevitable lack-of-sleep redness while brightening and opening up the whole eye. I also use this if I’ve been having allergies. Just be very, very careful when applying. Don’t do this one in the car.
Right now I’m really into this Crimson Cream Rouge cream blush/lip tint by Besame Cosmetics ($22). Don’t be scared by the color, just tap a tiny bit onto the apple of your cheeks and blend, and do the same for your lips. It’ll brighten you up with a subtle I-just-ate-a-popsicle flush. Cream blush has good staying power, and won’t make you look all powdery. The trick is to find a shade that’s bright enough to give you some pop, and to use it subtly.
Finally, my eye makeup trick. Drag a concealer pencil in your shade (I like Shiseido The Makeup Correcter Pencil, $18, because it’s a small pencil, rare in the mostly-chunky concealer pencil world) right along the bottom of your eye bags where that dark line is. You know the basic rule of shading — put something dark on your face and it’ll cause that area to recede, put something light on your face and it’ll bring it forward, right? Same principle applies here. You want to fill in that dark line of demarcation at the end of the puffiness. In the same vein, grab a brown shadow (Smashbox Waterproof Shadow Liners, $22, are nice and chunky, and live up to their name- you’ll need a real makeup remover to get that shit off. Just make sure you smudge immediately after it touches your skin or you’re stuck with a hard line FOREVER) and smudge it on the area you want to recede: the puffy part (line & smudge along your lashes, too, for balance). This trick is like magic, I swear. Brown tends to look the most natural, but you can switch it up if you like. Match the depth of the shade to your coloring- if you’re really fair, go easy with the espresso shades. If you’re a spaz, powder shadows are much easier to manipulate and more forgiving; use with a small short-bristled shadow brush.
Cheap, easy trick to look dewy and luminous? Pat a tiny bit of Vaseline along the tops of your cheekbones. Don’t forget your eyeliner/mascara/whatever you like to use. Finally, blot away some of your t-zone shine with blotting papers (rather than using powder, which can build up and be drying). My favorite is MAC Blot Film ($15). Toss these in your bag for a quick and easy go-to shine remover. People will look at you funny while you’re blotting, but that’s only because they’re jealous of your foresight.
Now fill up your water bottle and go find the greasiest breakfast in town. Got hangover/perk-me-up tips? Leave ’em in the comments!