Halp! Oil Control

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.

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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.

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!