This is just to say
that I have not written
for this blog
And you were probably
if I was
I have been busy
(Sorry, William Carlos Williams)
Anyway, the poem is true–I’ve been dreadfully neglectful. It sucks and I’m sorry. When life and work and all that nonsense get crazy, the first thing to get sacrificed in the name of “having enough time to sleep” is fun stuff. This blog is #1 on the list of fun stuff, which means it’s the first thing to suffer.
Don’t worry, though. The bathroom has been remodelled, the leak in the ceiling has been patched up and things are slowly returning to what passes for normal around here. Regular service will resume soon. In the meantime, why not click the “Greatest Hits” tab up above and check out some of my favourite older posts? There’s all kinds of stuff in there!
Thanks for putting up with my sporadic ass. I’ll be back soon.
This weeks question–which I have totally misplaced, by the way–is from Farrah, who wants to know about red lipstick. Her question was, if memory serves, about a few things:
- How can I pull off red lipstick?
- Can I wear it during the day?
- Is lipliner still a thing? Do I need it all the time?
- I want to do a dramatic Old Hollywood look, but I don’t know how.
I am the right person to ask about this stuff, because I have always and forever been a red lipstick kind of girl. For example, yours truly at 20, having nothing on her agenda except going to class:
My look at the time could not be described as has low maintenance. I probably spent forty minutes putting my face on, only to spend all day sitting in a lecture hall, taking notes. I could have used that time for sleeping. College students, take note!
Anyway. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been around the red lipstick block.
Red is easier to pull off that a lot of people realise. Before I talk about gloss vs matte, I’m going to talk about finding the right shade of red for you. This is also a lot easier than most people realise.
First things first: When figuring out what colour ANYTHING looks best on you, wear the right stuff. Wear a light or neutral coloured shirt and minimal, basic makeup. This is your prepared, blank canvas that will give you the best idea of how the product will look in your real life.
And I’m not saying you HAVE to wear a gigantic Mongolian lamb vest…but it doesn’t hurt.
You may also notice that I’ve cut my hair and dyed it a bit darker. I feel like a new woman!
For me, basic makeup is concealer (MAC Mineralise, YSL Touche Eclat for under my eyes), blush (NARS Desire), eyeshadow to fill in my eyebrows (Sable, by Studio Graphics I think?), grey eyeliner under my eyes and mascara (both discussed here). Your mileage may vary. DO YOU.
Obviously, red is never just RED the way black is black or white is white. Though red is a primary colour, other colours go into making the different shades–which is how you get this, this, this and this–and they’re all still red. When it comes to choosing a lipstick, the dimensions you’re going to want to consider are warm vs cool and dark vs bright. These may have technical names, but I have no idea what they are, so whatever.
Warm reds are red lipsticks that have a lot of yellow or orange in them. If you go to a makeup counter, you’ll probably hear them described as “true red,” “tomato red” or “brick red.” Cool reds–these are my jam–have more blue or purple in them. These might be described as “natural red” or “raspberry red” but I always call them the pinky-reds, ’cause that’s what they are.
I don’t think there are particular skintones or hair colours that look best in warm vs cool reds, because there are too many variables for that. So no shortcuts: you just have to try both and see which one you like the best.
How dark or bright is another factor to consider. Do your want your red deeper, like a crimson, or brighter, like a poppy?
That’s MAC Red on the left and So Scarlet (discontinued) on the right–two cool toned reds, one bright and one dark. Totally different.
So now you know what colour red you like. Now let’s talk about attitude.
The trick to pulling off red lips is confidence. It’s a bold look, and you have to be bold YOURSELF to carry it off. Luckily, confidence isn’t hard to fake–just tell yourself how fantastic you look and go about your business like nothing is different on your face. A lot of people tell me they think other people will think they look stupid with a bright lip. In general, people don’t really spend much time thinking about others because they’re too busy thinking about themselves, so don’t worry. Nobody will throw rotten fruit at you on the street because you did something different.
That said, there are a lot of ways to ease your way into a red lip. The first is with a red gloss.
My favourite red gloss is Starlit by Smashbox. You get really great colour without having to go as heavy as lipstick, and you get some shimmer but not like you ate a mouthful of glitter. This particular red is warmer (more yellow) than I usually wear, but it looks so good that I don’t even care.
Because this is a gloss, it’s going to come off pretty quickly. That’s the price you pay for shine. Though you’ll need a mirror to reapply, it’s got a wand applicator and is basically unfuckupable. This particular gloss really earned a place in my heart for not being too sticky or having a gross smell or taste. CRUCIAL.
If you’re nervous about looking “too much” for daytime but still want to look like you’re wearing makeup, I’d recommend a red gloss like this one. It’s light, reapplication is easy, it doesn’t get on your teeth, you don’t have to think about it too much.
And now let’s talk about the big guns.
My favourite red lipsticks–and now I’m talking actual lipstick, the kind of things you think about when someone says the word–are two from Mac and one from Dior. They all have pretty decent wear and decent shine, but because they are high pigment they come off on literally everything. Don’t kiss anyone unless you want to leave evidence behind, is all I’m saying, and check your teeth frequently.
MAC red has been my go-to for years. So Scarlet was discontinued a few years ago, which is a mega bummer, so look for any deep reds described as having a burgundy base to copy it. Fireworks (sorry, there’s an ‘s’ on the end there) is a replacement for my deeply beloved Flamenco Red, which Dior also discontinued and was my ultimate forever favourite. Fireworks is lightweight, shiny and lasts well–it feels almost like a gloss, but looks like a lipstick. Plus it doesn’t smell, which is AMAZING in my book. (Still, RIP Flamenco Red)
Now a word about lipliner: Don’t wear it with a gloss. You don’t have to. If you’re wearing a thicker, more colour-heavy lipstick like the three above, you will need it. Putting on lipstick straight from the tube is not really an exact science and it can look really messy if you aren’t careful. I know a lot of people tell you to do the liner FIRST, but I always apply the lipstick first, THEN neaten up the borders with my liner. You don’t need a seperate liner for each shade of stick, either. I only have four colours of lipliner, all of them from the drugstore, and that’s basically all I need: A bright red, a dark red/burgundy, a bright coral/pink and a colour pretty close to my natural lipcolour. If you get a selection similar, they will serve you well.
If you don’t want to mess around with liner and lipstick, and you want something that is going to stay on your mouth for ages, why not combine the two into one? And why not make it the closest thing possible to a universally flattering red? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to NARS Dragon Girl.
It has the best name in history. It comes in a chubby pencil and it’s really easy to use. It stays on forever and doesn’t dry out your lips (even though it’s a very matte finish and sometimes that’s the price you have to pay). This colour looks good on so many skin tones and hair colours, it’s insane. It also doesn’t kiss off all that easily, which my boyfriend appreciates. And it is my absolute favourite ever ever EVER.
Because it’s so bright and so matte, I usually save this for nighttime outings. But it also looks spectacular on the beach, with a plain white tshirt, while walking your dog, etc. The sky is the limit when you’re a Dragon Girl.
I also wanted to write about lip stains and how there’s only one awesome kind, but the one I wanted to write about got stolen a few weeks ago and I haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet. ANOTHER TIME.
As for a glamourous Old Hollywood Look, I’d pair a bright red lip (Dragon Girl or MAC red) with some cateye liner (review the technique here), and either loosely wave my hair, Veronica Lake style, or pull it back and tease it into a big ol’ beehive. If I was feeling more Silent Movie Vixen, I’d use the deep red (So Scarlet) on my lips, then do a super smoky eye by smudging some black eyeshadow into my lashline (top and bottom). I’d straighen my hair and wear lots of long, ropelike necklaces.
And it would be fabulous.
Do you guys do the red lips thing on the regular? What are your favourite reds? Should I bring back the spiky black bob? Tell me everything in the comments or on Twitter.
Today’s question comes from Mandi, who says:
i have a question for you! i am unfortunately getting older, and i feel like i need to really kick it into gear with my anti-wrinkle regimen. any products that i should be using for fine lines around/under my eyes and laugh lines?
Okay! This is a fantastic question, and one for which I have a long answer. The first thing I am going to say is that everyone should take care of their skin. It’s the largest organ in (or rather on) your body, and obvs you want your organs to be as healthy and functional as possible for a long, long time.
THAT SAID, there is so much bullshit out there about skincare, it is ridiculous. It’s like cosmetic companies are competing to see which can tell us the biggest lies and still have people fall for it. This product will reverse the aging process! This product will erase your wrinkles! This one will make you invisible! This one will allow you to fly! This one is actual magic that we distilled from the tears of a unicorn!
Cosmetics companies will promise you anything in order to get you to buy the skincare stuff they are selling, and literally nothing they are saying is true. Here are the only legit claims any kind of cream, gel or potion can make:
- That it moisturises your skin.
- That it has sunscreen in it.
- That it has certain ingredients in it that have been shown to help with acne.
- That it has an ingredient that will exfoliate your skin.
If a product says anything other than that–like that it will fade acne marks, or get rid of sunspots, or shrink your pores, or get rid of wrinkles, or banish your undereye circles–it is lying to you. If that shit could be done by something you buy at Sephora, plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists would be out of business.
So let’s talk a little bit about skin and how it works so that everyone understands what a massive, massive crock of crap 99% of skincare advertising is.
There are very strict rules about what cosmetic companies are and are not allowed to say about their products. This is why you’ll hear ads say things like “Reduces THE LOOK of fine lines and wrinkles” instead of “Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.” The former is doing some selective truth-telling whereas the latter is straight up lying, and there are penalties for that. Lancome was smacked down by the FDA in 2012 after advertising that one of it’s expensive magical potions would “Boost the activity of genes” and “Stimulate stem cell regeneration.” Those are the kind of claims that only drugs can make, because drugs are tested like crazy to be sure that they work. Face creams don’t have to meet those kind of standards, so they can claim they do anything, even if what they’re claiming is impossible. And changing the composition of your skin–ie, getting rid of wrinkles, making you look younger, getting rid of dark circles–are all impossible claims.
Now let’s get to why.
Your skin, as I mentioned, is the biggest organ you have. The top layer of it is designed to protect you from infection and stop you from losing too much water. That’s it. It does not care what it looks like, just like your heart doesn’t care if it’s a perfect size six with flowing golden hair and blue-green eyes like a Wakefield twin. Not having wrinkles is not your skin’s job. If you told it that it is, it would be all “Come the fuck on, I’m making sure you don’t get avian flu from the ATM at Target. You think I’m going to change how I work so that you can be prettier? I HAVE OTHER PRIORITIES.”
Skin is not very permeable, which means that most things can’t get past it. It’s whole reason for existing is to be a roadblock, not a fishing net. So all those cool graphics you see of magical creams penetrating to the deepest layers of your skin? Bullshit. At best, those creams moisturise the very top layer of your epidermis, which is made of dead skin cells and sloughs off in about 27 days. If there truly was a cream that could penetrate allllllll the way down to your dermis and change the way your skin works–like to “increase collagen production” or “undo sun damage”–it would be considered a drug by the FDA. You would need a prescription to get it and it would probably cost a million dollars. You would not be able to buy it at Walgreens.
You can’t magically reverse most of the damage that you do to your organs, you can only do things to prevent it. The only way you can fix them once they’re fucked up is with surgery. There is no miracle cream you can rub on your liver that will undo 30 years of alcohol abuse, there’s only a liver transplant. Likewise, you can’t lie in tanning booths and then slather on a nightcream and undo all the sunspots and wrinkles those choices have gotten you. You can only go to a cosmetic surgeon for resurfacing or lasers or whatever that terrifying scar removal procedure was in The Craft. (You’ll probably have to pray to some weird god to make that last one work, though)
Of course, we’re all going to die eventually, and when we do it’ll matter very little whether we had laugh lines or not. If you treat your body (and your skin) well, you’ll look and feel better at 80 than someone who eats pizza every night and washes their face in the cheese grease. But eventually both of those people will be dead. All the sunscreen in the world won’t change the fact that humans are mortal.
Mandi’s question deals specifically with wrinkles, specifically, what can we as ladies who are no longer teenagers but not yet middle aged do about them? As you’ve probably guessed, the Official No BS Beauty answer is: not a lot. Your skin really doesn’t give a shit if it gets wrinkled or scarred; it has a JOB to do. All you can do is be kind to your skin and trust that in 40 years, you–the person who has taken care of themself–will look better than the person who washes their face in cheese grease.
No matter what you do, at some point in your life you’re gonna get wrinkles. But let’s be proactive about it. If you don’t have lines yet, let’s work on delaying the ones you will eventually get. If you have a couple, let’s work on not getting more. And there’s no such thing as too late; the best time to start doing this stuff is today!
Here is how you can be kind to your skin at any age:
- Don’t sleep in your makeup. Human skin is home to millions of bacteria from thousands of species. Most of them are friendly, but some of them are not, and tipping that balance can contribute to acne, rosacea and psoriasis. Bacteria likes to grow in a warm, dark, moist environment where there’s lots of stuff for it to eat, ie: your face at night covered in makeup. Yuck. Doctors wash their hands; you gotta wash your face. Take that shit off.
- Wash your face. Use something gentle. I really like this stuff Burt’s Bees makes, but I also use CeraVe and that’s awesome. Don’t waste your money on stuff that promises to anti-age or de-scar you or whatever, because that is lie-telling. I wash my face in the morning and again in the evening after I work out. Toner isn’t necessary, so don’t waste your money on it unless you really like the smell.
- Don’t get too wacky with acne products. Repeat after me: spot treat, don’t scorch the earth. I get zits to this day and the only thing that gets rid of them is time and a little dab of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cream. Put it on the spot, don’t rub it all over your face; it will irritate the shit out of the rest of your skin. And unless a dermatologist tells you to, don’t buy the 10% benzoyl stuff. It won’t heal things any faster, it will only make you drier and flakier.
- Exfoliate. You can buy exfoliation creams, or you can get one of those crazy expensive Clairsonic things if you want. I put a bit of cleanser on a washcloth and exfoliate it GRANDMA STYLE twice a week. Be gentle with this. If you get too crazy with it–by this I mean attacking your skin with a pumice stone or something–you’ll end up looking like Samantha Jones: Beekeeper.
- Use sunscreen. Yes, even if it’s cloudy. Yes, even if it’s cold. Just do it. I come from Australia and we know that skin cancer is no joke. Plus, ultraviolet rays cause wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. The Mayo Clinic says so.
- Don’t go tanning. And also, Don’t bleach your skin. Whatever colour your skin is naturally, it’s perfect. Don’t fuck around and burn/bleach it it so that it’s a different shade. It is TERRIBLE FOR YOU.
- Moisturise. When you’re done taking off your makeup and washing your face, pat it dry with a clean towel and put on some moisturiser. I like this from Burt’s Bees and this from Say Yes to Carrots, which also has SPF in it. Lately my skin has been really irritated and bitchy because of the weather, so I put a few drops of Argan oil on my face at night and it’s THE BEST. I wake up and my skin looks happy, feels really nice and doesn’t get dry & flaky OR too oily. Right now I’m using the Josie Maran stuff because it doesn’t smell (I hate smells), but that is expensive. You can get Argan oil for cheaper at Whole Foods or by looking around on Amazon, though. Read the reviews and make sure it’s not a smelly brand, though.
- Don’t eat too much shit. I know science disproved the whole chocolate-gives-you-zits thing in the 90s. But when I eat tonnes of crappy food, my skin starts looking really crappy too. Eat more fruits, veggies and protein, don’t be scared of fats (you need them!) and stay away from too much processed stuff.
- Get enough sleep. I need eight hours, maybe you need less (or more). Get the amount that you need. When I get less, my skin is waaaaay dull looking, as well as more prone to breakouts. Sleep is good for your skin and good for the rest of your life.
- Don’t smoke. It’s bad for your insides and bad for your outsides.
- Stay away from meth. Self-explanatory.
This is just a rough guide for skincare, not a sure thing. Hormones can change how your skin looks (especially when it comes to acne) and genetics play a giant role in how you look as you age. Which means you could do all this stuff and still get a whole tonne of wrinkles. You’re gonna end up with wrinkles no matter what happens–that’s just what happens to skin as it ages–and so you can either say “Fuck it, these are the badges of a life well lived” or spend your dollars on plastic surgery (or cosmetic dermatology, or whatever it’s called). I am all for plastic surgery if it makes you happy and you can afford it, but probably don’t take out a bunch of loans to “fix” your laugh lines when you’re 30, you know? And honestly, I’d rather spend a few thousand dollars to get guaranteed results in a doctor’s office than waste my money on creams that promise miracles and don’t deliver.
There is literally NO REASON to spend hundreds of dollars on a tiny jar of La Mer or similar. It’s not magic. It’s not actual Polyjuice Potion. It will make no difference to your face or your life, except to eventually make you feel like a dummy for wasting your money.
How about you guys? What’s your skincare routine? Do you have any products that you love/hate? Let me know in the comments or on twitter!
Has it really been a full year since the inagural Palentine’s Day? It seems like the older I get, the more quickly time moves. Like I just turn around, and suddenly everything has changed.
I’m astonished at how much it’s changed for the better recently. But I’ll get to that.
The last twelve months have taught me an awful lot about love. And even though this might sound weird, nobody has taught me more about what it means to love and be loved in return than my dog.
As I’ve mentioned before, Oliver and I didn’t bond at first sight. I was worried that I might not really take to him, or he wouldn’t take to me, when I first brought him home. But within 48 hours, we became a team. And we’ve never looked back.
Oliver can be a grade-A pain in the butt. He challenges me for pack leadership on a regular basis. He demands attention when I’m trying to work. He chewed holes in a McQueen skull scarf that I got for Christmas and hadn’t even worn yet. But he also protects me from ANYTHING that threatens me, even if he’s scared of it himself. He is incapable of seeing me cry–or look sad, or even THINK about looking sad–without capering around like a loon and licking my face to try to cheer me up. And on days that suck, my little Wigglebutt is there to curl up next to me, rest his head on my leg and look at me with his eyebrows raised, like he’s reminding me that it’s okay.
Oliver loves me, even if I yell or cry or am having a bad day. He loves me even if what’s in my head is scary, or too intense, or nigh incomprehensible. He loves me whether I have no time or all the time in the world. He thinks I am totally brave and strong, and that I can protect and lead him through anything. Every day I do my best to live up to that.
My dog makes me want to be a better person.
But I also want to be a better person for other reasons.
Last year, this is what I wrote: “Every day of my life, I set my shoulders and say “Well, maybe I’ll be alone for the rest of my life and that’s okay. Romantic love might not be in my programming.” And then I talk it out and you guys whisper secrets to me and I realise that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be like that.”
And guess what. It isn’t like that anymore.
I haven’t decided yet how much or how little I want to talk about my relationship on the internet. A big part of me wants to hoard it all for myself, like a dragon lying on his gold, and guard it fiercely from the rest of the world. But that instinct comes from a scared place in my head, a place that’s afraid that someone is going to use my vulnerabilities to hurt me. And there’s nothing more vulnerable than falling in love, it turns out. NOTHING.
All the things I thought that maybe I couldn’t feel, I can and do feel now. I get love now, you guys. And now that I get it, I’m not scared of it anymore. It’s the weirdest, most excellent thing! I am totally happy and excited!
I don’t know that there’s anything better than knowing that I have so many awesome people in my corner. I have friends all around the world who love me. I have family who cares. I have a dog who would take on armies to keep me safe. I have a boyfriend who makes me amazing things like this, PREPARE TO BE JEALOUS:
And I have amazing readers who stick with me and teach me new things every day. It’s impossible to be any luckier than I am.
Happy Valentine’s, Palentine’s and Galentine’s day to us all. xoxoxo
- Realise you’re almost out of obscenely expensive Argan oil. It’s actually doing awesome things for your skin, so you choke down the price and make a Sephora run to replenish your supply.
- Get distracted by shiny things at Bendels.
- Take the escalator two floors to Sephora. Feel someone bumping up against you; assume it’s garden variety sexual harassment and ignore.
- Stroll in, look at some lipstick, go to check what time it is.
- Realise your bag is unzipped
- Realise your phone is not in its designated pocket.
- Nor anywhere else in your purse.
- Feel your heart fall through your butt.
- Congratulations. Your phone has been stolen.
- Dump the entire contents of your purse out on a counter; go through it with a fine tooth comb.
- Get two Sephora employees to help, in case you’ve suddenly gone blind or something.
- Try to call your phone from the store’s landline; realise your hands are shaking so badly that you can’t dial.
- RUN, do not walk, back down to Bendels.
- Wild-eyed and fighting back a panic attack, ask the frightened shopgirls if maybe you left your phone there?
- You didn’t.
- Realise your makeup bag is gone too, which contained all of your favourite stuff, including your favourite Dior lipstick that has been discontinued.
- Burst into floods of angry tears.
- Security arrives. Give a statement.
- Call the Chicago police to file a police report. REMAIN ON HOLD FOR 35 MINUTES.
- Two actual police officers arrive; they cannot help you with a police report as they are on foot, not in a car, a distinction which turns out to be very important.
- Learn that the Chicago police are no longer dispatching officers to scenes of non-violent crimes. If you’ve been robbed, you have to file a report over the phone. Okay. One understands that the cops cannot be everywhere at once.
- Call again to file a report under the instruction of the two officers who are there with you, and who are also very nice. REMAIN ON HOLD 45 ADDITIONAL MINUTES.
- Give up.
- Stop service on phone.
- Change gmail password from computer at Best Buy, thus effectively locking out the thieves.
- Realise you’ve cried off most of your makeup; adorable gay boy tells you that you still look good.
- Head to boyfriend’s place.
- Get lost on streets you have seriously been on a million times, you are so upset.
- Walk past herd of teenage boys. Overhear one say “Is that Taylor Swift?” and they all stare after you.
- Smile in spite of yourself.
So guys: if you’re out and about in Chicago, hang on to yo shit! I learned from the very nice officers who were helping me (and who were just as pissed as I was at the logistical impossibility of, y’know, actually reporting a crime) that there are some A-grade pickpockets running around the city lately.
I mean, the joke is ultimately on the thieves because my phone was about four years old, heavy as a brick and worth about three dollars. But that doesn’t mean I wanted it taken. Likewise, as shitty as it was that they stole my makeup, at least they didn’t get my wallet. And since my makeup bag looks very much LIKE a wallet, I count myself doubly lucky.
Still. I hope those thieves get anal prolapse, because this has been really annoying.
Do you know what this means?!
- I get to teach you things! Makeup things! THE BEST KINDS OF THINGS!
- You get to learn stuff from videos, which are easier to follow than pictures sometimes.
- I get to indulge my perfectionist tendencies with the precision clip trimmer in iMovie.
- You get to hear my confused accent! If you can come up with a better description than “You sound like a CNN correspondent,” you win a prize.
- I get to play with makeup AND make storyboards. Post-it notes everywhere!
- You get a Video Alle in your house whenever you want, teaching you how to do your makeup. Pour a glass of wine and it’s basically like we’re hanging out.
Plus, you can observe the range of totally insane faces that I make all the time for no reason.
I know the makeup video market is pretty saturated. I’m not a professional make up artist, an eighteen year old supermodel or an incredibly gorgeous drag queen. But I know how to make the most of my features. I know how to use makeup to ENHANCE, rather than CHANGE. And I know how to make my face look awesome with maximum efficiency and minimal fuss. No BS Beauty means makeup for the real world, not just for Instagram photos or the dark lights of Da Club.
So, as I learn to navigate this medium, this is my first video. It is actually three mini tutorials in one–Basic (“The dotted line”), Intermediate (“the push and wiggle”) & Advanced (“Dramatic cat-eye”). So let’s all learn How To Get Perfect Eyeliner in 8 Minutes or Less. The other 49 seconds is just me dancing around. Literally.
Just in case you can’t see my shining face in the video above, you can also watch it here.
I was going to include a full list of all the products I used, but I forgot. So here it is!
- Grey pencil liner: MAC Technakohl in Greyprint.
- Black pencil liner: MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Engraved.
- Eyelash curler: Japonesque.
- Mascara: MAC Plushlash & Splashproof Lash.
- Flat tipped eyeliner brush: Sonia Kashuk @ Target.
- Black eyeshadow: Urban Decay eyeshadow in Perversion, now apparently called Blackout.
And now, a few other things I wanted to mention…
- I use grey eyeliner under my eyes a lot because I’m pale as a vampire’s ass, and black can look too harsh on me during the day. If grey doesn’t work on you and you want to use black or brown or neon green–do it! Substitute away! (But if you’ve never tried grey liner before, you might like it.)
- Eyelash curlers are something you might want to spend some dollaz on if you’re going to use it every day. I used to have a really cheap Revlon one and before it broke, it would pull out my lashes on the regular. OW. I’ve had the same Japonesque one for about seven years now and it continues to serve me well. You don’t have to buy a hundred dollar gold-plated model, but you don’t want something that’s going to hurt you or snap in half after three weeks.
- DON’T DO YOUR MAKEUP WITH A WEBCAM, IT IS WAY TOO HARD. Now I understand why so many people spend their tutorial videos looking slightly to one side (there’s a mirror there!). Next week I buy a mirror on a stand like an adult.
- Seriously, put your contacts in first. Best advice I can give you.
I hope you liked my first attempt at a video. I’m only gonna get better at these! What should I talk about next week? Getting perfect eyebrows? Trimming your own bangs? Would you like to hear a rant about bears? I’m open to anything. Let me know in the comments or on twitter!
Hello everyone! It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another edition of…
Last week we talked about liquid eyeliner, and we crowned the undisputed winner of Greatest Liner Alive. I feel like the rest of the products we talk about are going to be a little more subjective. Everyone in the world wants liquid eyeliner to do the same things, whereas other makeup is more complicated because there’s more variation in both what the product DOES and what people WANT IT TO DO.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to mascara, which is what we’re going to be talking about today.
Mascara is my magic product. When my lashes are dark and ready for battin’, I feel like the best, foxiest version of myself. But I’m an especially harsh critic of this product because my eyelashes are super light and require some drama to look the way I like.
There are sixty billion types of mascara. And despite what commercials tell you, they all do the EXACT same thing: paint your eyelashes darker. But this is also a product that suffers severely from a case of Magical Advertising, because every ad for mascara promises magic that it straight up cannot deliver. All mascara ads feature fake lashes or lash extensions, because the reality isn’t that dramatic. No mascara ever in the world is going to make it look like you’re wearing multiple pairs of extra-long fake eyelashes. Por exemplo:
These are all fake lashes. In fact, the Natalie Portman ad at the end (for Dior mascara) was banned in the UK for being misleading, ie: for using falsies. So then Dior said, Oh no, we just PHOTOSHOPPED her eyelashes. Which is not much better. So don’t believe the hype.
Here are some things that mascara won’t do:
- Make your eyelashes thicker, except in the sense that certain types of paint are thicker than others. It won’t change the thickness of your actual lashes or “promote growth,” because then it would be a drug and you’d need a prescription for it.
- Make them longer. I’ve tried six of the mascaras that have those little “microfibers” or “microtubes” for length, and none of them have made my lashes noticeably longer. They have made them clumpier, though. Regardless of who makes the product or how expensive it is, the microfibers always flake off and fall on your face like tiny black scabs. So skip it.
- Make them super-curly. Just use an eyelash curler. It’s more reliable. Plus if you wear glasses, curling your lashes will stop them from brushing up against your lenses. I hate that.
So. If you want crazy long Telenovela lashes but your natural ones are short, or thin, or really straight, buy a really good pair of fake eyelashes. Mascara is only going to enhance what you already have, not drastically change it.
So! Mascara is one of the things that you don’t have to spend a tonne of money on to get a good product. The one that I like the best in the bargain category is Maybelline Full N Soft.
The last time I was travelling & forgot to take any, I picked up a tube of this at a Walgreens and it was just like I remembered from college. It comes in your basic colours but I only ever buy it in black, and the brush is big and puffy.
A lot of people want a lot of things from their mascara. This is a good all-rounder. It’s dark right away, stays on well and takes multiple coats without getting gross looking. It doesn’t go on clumpy, dries fairly quickly and seldom makes you look like you have spiderlegs for lashes. Plus it’s under $7.
It does have some cons, though. “Drying fairly quickly” doesn’t mean “immediately,” so if you blink while it’s still wet you’ll end up with little black blobs on your face. The waterproof version doesn’t seem any more waterproof than the normal kind, but does seem to have a weird smell. I hate weird smells. It also wears a bit unevenly. It stays on just fine on my top lashes, but after a day’s wear the bottom lashes have almost no product left on them.
So if you need a mascara for under $10, this is the one to choose. It’s not perfect, but it’s quality. You can buy it here, or basically anywhere else.
Now we’re going to get into the products that I use, and the ones I recommend most often. Yes, productS plural. You’ll see why in a second.
This is MAC Plushlash. I use this on my top lashes. Pricewise it’s a middleweight–$16–but even the really expensive ones I’ve tried haven’t been as good. A $32 mascara is not twice as amazing as a $16 one–it’s basically the same. Diorshow & Lancome, you overrated bastards, I’m looking at YOU.
This mascara has the best brush. It’s big and fat, but the tip is quite thin which lets you get the little lashes in the corner of your eyes. One coat of this is like two coats of any other product I’ve tried, which is awesome if you’re a multiple-layer girl or if you want to just do one swipe and run out the door. It dries really fast; I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten blinkmarks on my face from sneezing or something before it dried. It isn’t gunky or flaky. And it stays on all day.
As for cons, you need to clean the brush on occasion or else your lashes will start looking a little spidery. Wipe it with a dry tissue and it’s fine. A lot of reviews I’ve read talk about this mascara “curling” your lashes–I have long but very straight eyelashes and it doesn’t curl them at all, so I call wishful thinking on that one. It’s also not waterproof, so if you’re having an allergy day or a sad movie date, this isn’t what you want to wear.
I also use another MAC product, Splashproof Lash, on my bottom lashes. I love this guy, but for a very different reason than his partner above.
I know what you’re probably thinking: Two separate mascaras? WHY?
Well, because I need these two products to do very different things. My top lashes I want to look long and thick and luscious, so I use a product with a thick formula and chubby brush. For my lower lashes, I want a product that will stay PUT. And “Splashlash” as I’ve abbreviated it, STAYS FUCKING PUT. It doesn’t rub of, smear off or migrate south and make my dark circles look even darker. It just makes me look like I have impossibly long, naturally dark lower lashes.
I am so serious. This has staying power. I’ve worn it to the beach, to pools, to Lake Michigan, in the shower, while having sex, while having sex IN the shower, onstage, while suffering with a cold, at weddings in outrageous heat–it will not melt off. The skinny brush and thinner formula makes it a more “natural” looking mascara than the Plushlash, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And there is no better waterproof mascara on the market, period.
However. That staying power is also a con, because it’s hard to take off. You really need a gentle oil-based remover, and even then you may need to rub. Honestly I don’t wear this on my top lashes all that often for this exact reason, and also because I have a heavy hand with mascara which makes it exponentially harder to get off. So that’s partially my problem, not Splashlash’s.
Anyway, here’s proof that the system works. Here’s what my peepers look like without mascara (and what my face looks like without any makeup at all because I forgot to take pictures until ten o’clock at night):
Fine, but not all that impressive. You can hardly tell that I have any eyelashes, let alone that they are super long and pretty.
This is with two coats of Plushlash on top and one of Splashlash on the bottom:
BAM. This is why it’s my magic product.
In conclusion, mascara is a product that is sold based on magical thinking and outright lies, but I love it anyway. Maybelline Full n Soft is the best mascara under $10, MAC Plushlash is Best In Show and MAC Splashproof Lash is the best waterproof. You shouldn’t waste your money on anything more expensive than those two products, because after the $16 mark mascara is just diminishing returns.
And maybe in the future we’ll talk about eyelash curlers and combs and all THAT fun stuff! What do you think? Do you have a mascara I should try? Am I totally crazy for hating on “lengthening fibers”? Do you have OPINIONS? Let me know here or on Twitter!