The Fuck is on Your Face? Vol. V: At First Blush

Drew is a playwright and wordsmith and an all-around fantastic human being; you know, one of those friends you adore but never get to see because they’re across the country? He had a few words to say on the subject of blush:

In a nutshell: let’s try to avoid a Raggedy Ann situation here.

Blush is tough for me because it’s a type of makeup that doesn’t intend to really blend into the skin, or emphasize naturally-occurring lines. Although it can effectively mimic what your face might look like if you’ve just accidentally crotch-flashed a foreign dignitary, let’s not be mistaken here: it’s artifice. And because of this, and how prominently it changes one’s entire appearance, no makeup mistake raises my eyebrow more than an over-rouge-ing.

As far as more “experimental” tones of blush go, I say: huh? Let’s keep in mind what we’re trying to improve here: a woman’s face. There’s nothing more exquisite in the world than a woman’s face. If you held up a woman’s face next to an assortment of, like, colors, guess what I’d be most interested in? Yup, the goddamn woman’s face.

So for the love of all things sacred, please don’t go all Rothko on those cheeks.

Aw geez, Drew. Flattery will get you everywhere (as will a good art reference).

I’ll admit to not being a huge blush user. I’m not sure why, exactly. It’s a lovely concept; it certainly can look very fresh and pretty. I guess it’s just one of those things I forget to wear. I’m more of a bronzer person, and only then to warm up my complexion if I feel a bit pale or I got some unexpected sun on the rest of my body (high planes of the face where the sun would hit) or to contour (slightly darker bronzer applied with an angled brush in the hollows of the cheeks under cheekbones). My favorite bronzers are Hoola ($28) and Smashbox Halo ($39) — both matte and very natural. A couple of great bronzer/blush multitaskers are Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights ($30) and Too Faced’s Caribbean in a Compact in Snow Bunny ($29), though both have some shimmer to them. If I am using blush by itself, I’ll generally go with worldwide favorite Nars Orgasm ($28, and also available in a split compact with Laguna, a soft matte bronzer), or Benefit Dandelion ($28) for more of an ethereal, subtle glow. If you’re looking for a foolproof way to pick a color, try pinching your cheeks (old beauty magazine trick) and pick a color similar to your natural flush. And make sure you pay attention to the level of shimmer in the product — a little can bring out your cheekbones, but too much can make you look like a disco ball. Check yourself out in direct sunlight to be sure.

When it comes to choosing a brush, just remember: the denser the bristles, the more color they will pick up and deposit on your face. The lightest, most subtle brush you can use is the fan brush. Apples of the cheeks are a good place to start, but you can experiment with different planes of your face for different effects. When in doubt, just smile and apply along the part that bulges out most (heh).

As always, just make sure you blend the shit out of it (for the record, I do not want this written on my gravestone). 

We can’t all have Drew’s natural healthy flush (also pictured: me and my bronzer habit).

I hijacked this bio from MTV Voices, where Drew sometimes writes:

Drew Paryzer (a.k.a. Andrés, אַבְרָהָם, ட்ரூ, and Shnookums) is a playwright, journalist, couch-surfing traveler, pun-lover, reflective listener, and heat-seeking missile.

He thinks he might have discovered the meaning of life looking into a pond one time, but then he had to start paying rent. Wrested out of Hebrew day school in Miami at a young age, reared with saxophone and Super Mario in the Rocky Mountains, and raised in South India, South America, and at Sarah Lawrence College, Drew now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has little idea what the hell is going on in this world until he starts writing about it. He once tried to climb up a palm tree and uprooted the thing. He’s mostly convinced that we’re all becoming cyborgs. Follow him on Twitter; you’ll be glad you did.

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Color Wars: Finding Your Shade

From Rose:

I would love to see a post about how to find the right shade of makeup- I swear I’ve bought eight red lipsticks that I thought would look good and when I got them home realized I looked terrible in it.

I don’t subscribe to any hard and fast rules about this, myself. Some people will tell you “Oh, you’re an autumn, only wear warm colors,” or “If silver looks best on you, you should only be looking for cool tones,” but I don’t buy that stuff. You may find that you’re drawn to one color family or another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear whatever you want. There’s another theory that you should go with your natural lip tone, but a few shades darker (Bobbi Brown is a big proponent of this theory). That’ll rarely steer you wrong, and is a great rule of thumb for interview makeup, impress-a-guy-on-the-beach makeup, and omg-she’s-totally-born-with-it makeup, but who wants to look natural all the time? Red lipstick is a powerhouse makeup decision and a birthright. Every woman should have a go-to red lipstick in her makeup drawer that she can swipe on when she’s feeling blah or femme fatale. The one one-size-fits-all tip I’ll throw out on red lipstick? Try MAC Russian Red. I’ve yet to see it look bad on someone.

I’ll admit it: a great deal of my BtVS-watching involved silent praise of SMG’s makeup artist.

And side note: I will wear any lip color. I am a total undiscriminating cosmetics slut and have absolutely no shame — and I think a lot of makeup-obsessed women are like this. It’s as if pretty, natural shades are our gateway drug and we start only being able to get high by upping the craziness factor on our shadows and lipsticks from time to time. So yeah, give me a Barbie pink gloss and I’ll sport it for a while. Vampy dark purple? Shit, I’ll try it. The only color family I avoid like the plague is nudes. I think it makes pretty much everyone look dead. Seriously, if you ever see me wearing it, I probably am; and depending on my state of consciousness you should either call 911 or Buffy Summers.

So unfortunately, since there are no hard and fast rules, there is no magic equation that will work for all women. What I can give you are tips for finding it on your own.

As always, you can shop at drugstores or you can shop at more high-end stores like Sephora or a beauty counter. The benefit of a drugstore is that lipstick is cheap and you can buy a couple and not feel the sting quite as badly. The benefit of shopping at the latter is that you can try them on and take them back if you change your mind.

Start with the swatch test: pick out some colors that you’re drawn to. Nine times out of ten you’ll be drawn to the colors you look best in. If you’re not, you just need more practice (and like I keep saying, that’s what makeup is all about). Swipe ’em on your hand, pay attention to the undertones and what you like about each. When you find two or three you’d like to try on, you can ask the person behind the counter to disinfect them for you, or do it yourself (Sephora has stations on each end-cap for just this purpose). You’ll need to spray a generous amount of alcohol into a tissue and wipe — really get at that sucker — then shave a little bit off the top with a Q-tip before applying. Do NOT apply without doing this — it’s unhygienic and everyone will look at you like you were raised in a barn.

All these shades were in my purse. Sad or AWESOME?

If you’re unsure about the color you like, walk around the mall with it for a while. Get comfortable. See how it wears. See how you like the formula.

Finally, if you do get it home and you change your mind after wearing it for a few days, you have a couple of options. You can blend it with colors you already have to get the perfect shade (I always have a neutral lipstick, brownish lip-liner, and a few bright colors on hand for this reason). Jean Godfrey-June, beauty editor at Lucky Magazine, says that a universal beauty truth is that “Any two random lipsticks you’ve ever bought – any – when combined, will always be flattering, no matter what your skin tone.” Go ahead and try — it’s pretty much foolproof. I know you want to find your lipstick holy grail. We all do. But sometimes life isn’t perfect, and you have to work with the universe to get what you want (pretty deep for a makeup blog, huh?).

If you still can’t stomach it, take it back. Sephora and almost any department store will exchange your product for you, even if you’ve already used it — and if you’re feeling truly hopeless, their salespeople will help you find a better shade. I’ll be honest — helping someone pick out a lipstick shade is only slightly above watching paint dry for any salesperson (seriously, there’s only so much “I want a red, but not too red. Kind of brownish, but not like a woody color, something more, I don’t know, pink? No, not pink…” one person can take), so use this option as a last resort. You should be able to figure this one out on your own.

The Tomboy’s Guide to Cosmetics

Today’s post was inspired by the text message I woke up to this morning.

She knows me well: flattery will get you everywhere.

Anna is one of my dearest friends. She’s in her second year of med school and barely has time to brush her hair, so we’re gonna make this simple. It seems that for all her intellect and talents, nobody ever taught Anna how to be “a girl” (in the colloquial sense; leaving aside the fact that there are hundreds of ways to be a girl and no one way is better than another). She texted me the other day about sunscreen.

“What’s your skin type?” I asked. “Uh. Hapa [mixed race]?” she replied. Adorable. Finally something I can teach her.

So, this is for all the Annas out there (including the original one). Oh! And get ready, because another not-so-makeup-savvy friend of mine has requested that I take her shopping for a complete makeup wardrobe, and I’m roping my fantastic photographer friend into documenting the excursion. It’s going to be like Christmas. Stores will be pillaged. Faces will be painted. Wallets will be emptied. Coming soon to a web browser near you.

Your skin is your canvas

Okay, so the biggest beauty tip I can give you is TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN. Your skin is your canvas. A beautiful painting on a lumpy, discolored canvas will not be nearly as beautiful as one on a smooth, even-colored one. Obviously there are ways to cheat this system, and they involve primers, foundation, and concealer (I’m happy to do a post on these if the consensus is that one is necessary). But the best thing you can do for your appearance is as simple as taking care of your skin. You need a cleanser and a moisturizer. Don’t argue with me, you do. And Anna? Soap is not a cleanser.

As previously mentioned, I like Philosophy’s Purity because it’s gentle and is a good multitasker: it cleanses, tones, and removes eye makeup. You can get a small bottle for $10 at Sephora/Nordstrom/Bloomingdale’s etc. if you want to try it before you commit to a larger bottle. For those of you who are new to the cosmetics game, multitasking products are going to be your best friend: wallet-friendly, simple, and no-nonsense. If you’re shopping in Walgreens or Target, look for a product that does all of these things. It’s all about checking the labels.

It’s good to have some exfoliator on hand to slough off dead skin cells 2-3 times a week. St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub is a classic for a reason (and at $3, it doesn’t hurt to toss into your cart). Make sure you rub it into your skin very gently, as the grains are large. I’d recommend having both a cleanser and an exfoliator, but if you’re only going to buy one, make it the cleanser, and exfoliate in the shower with a washcloth.

Okay, next thing you need is a moisturizer. The mistake a lot of women make is thinking that because their skin is oily, they don’t need a moisturizer. WRONG. If you under-hydrate your skin, your glands will try to compensate by creating excess sebum, which means MORE OIL. Keep everything balanced by applying an oil-free moisturizer after cleansing in the morning and after cleansing right before bed (yes, you need to do both). If you’re on the dry side, you want your moisturizer to be hydrating (packages with anti-wrinkle claims will be heavier and more moisturizing).

Where should you find this moisturizer? The drugstore can be daunting — all that bright packaging, all those grandiose claims … just keep in mind what you want out of your product. Are you worried about wrinkles and fine lines? Spots? Balancing your complexion? Brightening? The package will tell you what the product is meant for (duh).

Honestly, though — and this is not me being a snob — you really should go to a department store or Sephora. The staff are trained in the products and in basic skincare knowledge, and they will be able to make sense of your babble — they decipher this stuff all day. As I mentioned, I have a post on how to deal with shopping at department store counters percolating, but here’s the gist: tell the salesperson up front that you’re new to this stuff and you need to try a few different samples to decide what you want to invest your money in. And make no mistake, moisturizer is an investment. If you find one that your skin loves, it’s absolutely worth it to shell out a few more bucks — after all, cheesy as it sounds, you’re investing in your future skin. And if you’re using it correctly, a jar or bottle should last you 3-6 months, depending on the quantity and the product.

She may have terrible taste in eyeshadow, but she knows what she’s talking about.

So make sure you impress upon the salesperson that you need to try a few different kinds before you buy. He or she will want you to buy something that day — they have a quota to fill, after all — but if you explain that you need to try a few kinds first, any good salesperson will understand and be happy to help you find something you love. If they’re not, find someone else. Sephora is especially great for this kind of thing, since “cast members” (that’s what they’re called, I kid you not) don’t take commission and aren’t shilling for any particular brand. Sephora employees get gratis (free stuff) after every training, so they’ve usually tried the products they’re recommending and know the science behind them.

3-6 samples should be plenty (don’t be greedy, it’s not cute), and you should try each sample for several days (as long as the sample lasts you) before switching to the next. Pay attention to how your skin feels immediately after putting it on as well as how it looks and feels when you wake up in the morning.

The fun stuff: Face

So you’re naturally pretty, but you want to look a bit more polished. Well, guuuuurl, you’re gonna love tinted moisturizer. Remember how I talked about multitasking products before? This is the mother of all multitaskers. Moisturizer, sunscreen, and a hint of tint to even out your complexion, all in one product. When you wear this during the day, you can skip that awesome moisturizer you bought earlier and save it for nighttime (cell turnover naturally occurs at night, which massively increases the effectiveness of whatever you put on your skin. Save the heavyweight repairing stuff for nighttime, and focus on protection during the day).

You might encounter a product called BB Cream, which purports to be all of those things plus various treatments. So far I haven’t found a BB Cream that I like — the one-size-fits-all (or -many) tends to look kind of grayish on many skin tones. I’d stick with tinted moisturizer.

Some great tinted moisturizers are Laura Mercier (cult favorite for a reason and comes in different formulas for different skin types — and by the way, it’s pronounced “MERSE-ee-ay”. Now you won’t sound stupid when you ask for it), Jouer (this what I use currently  — lightweight with the tiniest hint of illumination), Smashbox (packed with good-for-you skin ingredients like green tea and peptides). This is another product that department stores and Sephora will excel at helping you pick out, although the nice thing about tinted moisturizers is that picking out a shade is a lot easier — there isn’t as much pigment so you don’t have to worry about finding an exact match like you do with foundation. If you’re torn between shades, I always go with the lighter shade, because you can always brush on some bronzer, but it’s almost impossible to lighten a too-dark mask.

What’s bronzer, you ask? This stuff will give you some polish and glow without the potential for the made-up look that blush can sometimes have. Benefit Hoola is my favorite for its fine texture and natural (matte) look, but you don’t need to be too picky with bronzer- the drugstore kind will work just fine. Use a light hand and apply with a brush (fan brushes give a nice sheer coverage, but you can use pretty much any kind as long as you’re sparing) to the areas of your face that the sun would hit (forehead, nose, cheekbones, a tiny bit on the chin). You can also brush it over your collarbone and shoulders for a nice sun-kissed glow. For a natural look, use a matte powder. For more drama, you can experiment with shimmery shades. Make sure that it’s blended well before leaving the house (this goes for everything you put on your face, by the way).

Eyes

Something like this.

If you use only one eye product, make it mascara. Brown mascara is okay if you want a super super natural look, but most people look best in black. Now the deal with mascara is that it’s 30% formula and 70% wand style. I’ve found that the easiest, least clumpy wand style is a plastic wand with little nubby prickles all over it (Oh dear. Now this sounds like an entirely different type of blog).

My favorite mascara on the planet is Chanel Inimitable Intense ($30), because it has that clump-free wand and a thick formula that’s easy to build upon. Unfortunately, it’s also thirty freaking dollars, and mascara needs to be replaced every three months minimum (I’m serious about this, Anna). A similar, almost-as-good-but-more-natural drugstore version is Maybelline Define-a-Lash ($7).

It’s easiest to apply mascara in a hand-held mirror so you can really see what you’re doing. Hold it slightly low so you can look down at it while you’re applying. Make sure you get the brush right in close at the roots of your lashes and wiggle as you comb through to the ends (mouth open optional, but likely). Let it dry for a few seconds and then apply as many coats as you like until you get the drama you’re looking for. Don’t let it dry completely between coats. If it gets clumpy, you can comb through with a lash comb (I like the ones with metal prongs for more precision) or a clean mascara wand.

If you want a little more oomph, smudge a bit of liner into your lashline to make your lashes look thicker (brown, black, or gray will look the most natural). Pencil is easier and more forgiving, liquid liner is more dramatic and precise (you’ll need to practice). Again, all about blending. If you want it to look natural, don’t leave any hard lines. Blend with your finger, a short-bristled shadow brush, or a Q-tip.

This could happen to you!

Oh! And the easiest way to make your whole face look polished is to get your brows done. Use Yelp to find a good salon near you, or ask your friends with great brows (bonus: if they do their own, they might offer to do yours). It’s a simple, one-step way to frame your whole face. Trust me on this one. And be wary of doing it yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing— brows are easy to screw up, and while brow pencils and brow shadows can help disguise fuckups, they’re slightly more advanced as far as doing your own makeup goes. Don’t be a hero.

Lips

My longest-standing love affair.

Lips are really where you can let loose and get creative. It’s all about the type of look you want and the finish that feels best to you. Some people feel like gloss is too sticky (and if you’re a self-professed tomboy, this is probably you), and others feel like lipstick can be too dry. If you’re new to wearing stuff on your lips, a tinted lip balm is a nice place to start. Try a brown-based shade one or two tones darker than your lips for the most natural look. Some good ones: Burt’s Bees ($7), Tarte ($24), and the classic Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker($2 — I swear every makeup-obsessed girl either has this in her bag currently or started with it in junior high). If you want to play around with glosses or lipsticks, head into a Sephora or department store, tell them “Thanks, but I’m just checking out some shades,” when they ask if you need help, and draw all over your hand and hold it up to your face. It’s not a perfect way to find out what will look best, but you’ll get a feel for the texture, and it’s much more hygienic than putting it on your face. Bonus: Most department stores and Sephora will let you exchange any products you’re not stoked about (even if you’ve lost the receipt). Don’t abuse it, but don’t hang on to a product you paid good money for and don’t love.

In conclusion

This whole process from cleansing to finishing touches shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes once you get it down. And like I always say, makeup should be fun. There’s no need to be intimidated; it’s not rocket science. Utilize salespeople, they’re there to help you (and don’t be bullied into buying something you don’t want to buy — like I said before, a good salesperson wants to help you find something you love). Play around, make mistakes, have fun with it — it washes off. The sooner you stop thinking of makeup as something you “don’t know how to do” and start thinking of it as a fun tool you can mess around with and whip out when you feel like it, the better. Makeup is like any other skill: you won’t know how to do it until you dive in and get your hands dirty.

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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.

The Fuck is on Your Face? Vol. III: The Tinkerbell Effect

Our third volume of The Fuck is on Your Face?, the feature that is apparently gunning to be renamed Dudes Think Lipstick Turns Us Into Idiots, comes to us from Simon, who has a bone to pick with those of you still hanging on to the nineties. Step away from the butterfly clips and listen up.

From the classic 1996 horror film “Not the Blue Eyeshadow!”

I admit to being utterly baffled by the horrifically large swathe of womanhood that for some reason thinks it’s OK to put glitter on things.

And by things, I mean, inevitably, me. I speak to you as a man labouring under the pain of a mighty dry cleaning bill, a man who is tired of being shiny and glimmery.

You lot are a little more subtle these days; now I just have to avoid Rocky Horror events and Bieber concerts (done and done). I can imagine that the bronzing powder, shimmery eyeliner, eyeshadow, and top toner [Ed. note: what now?] looked like a good idea in the bright and marvellous light of Sephora, but after a night in this dark and murky bar with you pressing your face into my jacket, nobody wants to step outside to discover they look like they have been dry-humping Tinkerbell.

Did you get into the glitter paints again, girl?

Simon spells things funny because he’s from across the pond. When Googling failed us, we had to ask him what the heck “top toner” is. His response: “Something that sounds like makeup but probably isn’t. Whatever it is you brush on. >Buzz phrase< powder or whatever.”

Great, Simon. Thanks for clearing that up. 

HALP! Up All Night

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?]

Skincare

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.

Cosmetics

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!

The Fuck is on Your Face? Vol. I: That Zombie Allure

Welcome to the first volume of The Fuck is on Your Face?; a feature where I ask my guy friends to talk about makeup. Our first entry comes courtesy of a gentleman who wishes to be referred to as is totally named Trent Melchiorre. Trent, in his typical brief fashion, says:

I have little opinion on makeup. It makes people prettier (PC? fuck you). I’m a little tight that I can’t get in on that. Foundation smells terrible and looks suffocating, and eyeliner is my second favorite thing.

We actually have photographic evidence on hand to support Mr. Melchiorre’s latter claim:

He’s fine.

Which, naturally, prompted our following exchange:

At least we know we’ll be employable during the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

As a dude, I too would be “tight” that it’s not entirely socially acceptable yet to get in on the beautifying properties of makeup. For all its opportunities for entertainment and self-expression, you know you’re gonna get a big zit right before a first date and it sure is nice to know you can just cover that sucker up. Are you a guy who uses concealer? Weigh in in the comments.

Mr. Melchiorre currently resides in New York, where he is a Serious Actor for the love of his craft and not at all because he likes wearing stage makeup. He wouldn’t tell us what his first favorite thing is, so we assume it’s lip gloss. 

Smart chicks don’t care about the mirror

It seems to be a widely held belief that to be an intelligent person (for the sake of the argument, I’m going to specify ‘girl’) is to relinquish all but the most basic of interests in personal appearance. You can shower and brush your hair. Cherry chapstick and maybe mascara, if you want to push it. After all, beauty is only skin deep, right? Smart chicks don’t spend hours looking in the mirror. That would be vain; a waste of time, quelle Narcissus and all that.

There’s an element of truth to this. It shouldn’t be all-consuming. Nobody wants to completely swallow the you’re-not-good-enough media pill. There is an aspect of the beauty industry that’s entirely too preoccupied with “fixing” what doesn’t need fixing. And if someone isn’t interested in cosmetics or doesn’t feel like wearing them, I say more power to them. For me, however, cosmetics are a fun thing. Not some mask with which to hide my insecurities, but an art form. Now, I’ll qualify this by being the first to admit that I’m insecure as hell, but for me, makeup has never been about covering stuff up. It’s freedom, expression, challenge.

Sarah Lawrence, my alma mater, is a wonderful school, one that affords you the freedom to explore intellectual curiosity as deeply as you might care to go. The serious academics I encountered there were worlds away from the music conservatory I transferred from. I found myself struggling to reconcile my own unassailable love for cosmetics and skincare and fragrance and silly girly things with my newfound academia; pursuing intellectual exploits and doing my best to present myself in a professional manner that reflected the inside of my brain more than the products I used every morning.

SRS ACADEMICS. And not an eyeliner in sight. (c) Sarah Lawrence College

A teacher once confided, “When I first met you, I thought you were one of those theater people. You don’t look like a serious intellectual.” There was an unmistakable condescension in his voice. It was meant to be a compliment about my intellectual capacity, but it only furthered my self-consciousness about the whole thing. The “serious girls” in my classes didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. And this lent them more credibility — even to me. Why? As if in the absence of makeup it was written on their faces that they’d spent that time in the library; spent more time pursuing “serious” things.

A New York Times article in October of last year cites a Boston-based study that concluded that women wearing makeup appeared more competent. The study, “Cosmetics as a Feature of the Extended Human Phenotype: Modulation of the Perception of Biologically Important Facial Signals,” (whew) used a pool of almost 300 participants and showed them, in varying lengths of time, photographs of 25 different women in various stages of makeup from bare-faced to “glamorous”. Overwhelmingly, the made-up women scored higher in likability, trustworthiness, and perceived competence. Interestingly, when viewers had to make a snap judgment based on limited exposure, the associations with all levels of makeup were positive. But the longer the more made-up images were shown to participants, the less trustworthy and “warm” they were likely to be rated. This makes sense when you think about how heavily made-up faces can be perceived as a kind of lie. We’ve all seen those Celebrities Without Makeup! shock horror tabloids. We know makeup can be magic.

See? Magic.

The study concluded that “[…] faces with cosmetics engage both fast, reflexive processes, and more deliberative conscious processes. The fast, automatic effects are uniformly strong and positive for all outcomes. In situations where a perceiver is under a high cognitive load or under time pressure, he or she is more likely to rely on such automatic judgments for decision-making. Facial images appear on ballots, job applications, websites and dating sites. Our results underscore the malleability of judgments derived from facial images of a single individual at zero acquaintance, judgments that can be highly consequential. When inferring trustworthiness, likeability, or competence from an image, we are influenced significantly not only by the attractiveness of the inherited phenotype but by the effects of the “extended phenotype,” in this case, makeup.”

Sounds about right. At first glance, someone wearing makeup often looks pulled-together; like they made an effort. But if you think about it too much, it sort of starts to look like they care too much about what they see in the mirror, and that, conventional wisdom says, is Not Good. I still don’t have an answer for how to be taken seriously if you wear makeup. It’s a balance I still walk and think about all the time. So no grand, tidy conclusions at this point, unfortunately.

I think if I were writing for a magazine, here is where I would offer tips on “Natural, barely-there beauty!” but you know what? Wear as much makeup as you freaking want. I tend to like to keep mine on the natural side for work or interviews, but hell, if that’s not you? Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Just blend that shit. Nobody ever went wrong with lots of blending.