LLB Makeup

Pretty on the outside. Witty on the inside.



powered by tumblr
seattle theme by parker ehret

  1. 10 Things Your Cosmetic Salesperson isn’t Telling You

    …or “Why I, Cosmetic Salesperson and Respected Beauty Authority, am a Lying Liar who Tells Lies.”


    Oooooh, a Henry Rollins reference! I’m timely as well as TOTES EDGY! Actually, I’m late for work, and this is the best I could do on short notice. 

    As a makeup artist who also works in retail, I have a lot of handy tips and tricks up my sleeve. My blogging background makes me want to share my secrets with everyone all the time, but the delicate politics of the store environment drives me to certain types of deceit. Here’s a look at what your makeup artist isn’t telling you:

    1. Makeup is not magic.

    I can’t tell you how many times a person has come up to me and described what they want, and it’s a product that does not exist. “I want a powder, that goes on evenly and doesn’t look dry and cakey (I have super dry skin). I don’t want it to get into my pores or break me out. I want it to be full coverage but look completely natural like bare skin. It needs to be quick and easy to apply and I don’t want to have to buy a brush. I also need it to be the sort of thing that you don’t have to wash off every night, because I don’t wash my face. I need a powder product that won’t show my wrinkles at all. If it could not be too dark, nor too light, that would be great, because I’m planning on going tanning. I want to look like the lady in the (photoshopped) picture, and I want to do it with ONE product…” I could go on.

    The thing about makeup is that it is not magic. To look like the lady in the picture you’d need an arsenal of products before anybody even boots up Photoshop: primers, brushes, blending sponges, creams, powders, concealers, highlighters- and that’s not even mentioning that the subject of the photo, typically a model or actress, likely has the best and most thorough skincare regimen that money can buy (notice that I’m sidestepping the “good genes” argument, because I’ve worked on a few famous faces so I know that not only is it complete bunk, but it strips the agency away from people who would like to do the work necessary to improving their skin. Improvement is possible with the right tools, so people should not just give up and cover up because their cursed stars saddled them with so-called “bad genes.”). People in my stores hate to hear the truth: that makeup is 80% skincare. What your skin is like underneath the makeup informs everything about the finished product. If you’ve got things you’d like to cover up, you’d be better served spending the majority of your effort and budget on corrective skincare.

    Also I am sick, sick to my very soul, of putting foundation on people who don’t do the bare minimum for their faces but expect nothing short of Photoshop magic from their makeup. It’s an exhausting, frustrating waste of time that always ends in me getting insulted and the customer leaving unhappy. And it’s a little bit gross:

    So, I touch people’s faces a lot- A LOT. Think for a moment about what you expect a face to feel like: Soft, mostly hairless, fleshy, right? Well, what if I told you that, while striping someone for a foundation match, running my finger along a mug that’s covered in dead skin cells, yesterday’s makeup still visible, and is bone-dry from lack of moisturizer, what if I told you that- expecting velvety face-feel, it instead felt like the elephantine skin of an elbow? An ashy leg with shaving stubble? The palm of a rough, chapped, hardworking hand? I’m not trying to shame anyone, I’m not trying to say, “your skin is bad and you should feel bad!” but it’s really gross, dudes. If you can’t be arsed to wash your face and apply a little moisturizer, you probably shouldn’t be wearing makeup in the first place. Have you seen what’s in makeup? You don’t want to leave that stuff on all the time!

    Aside from offending my delicate hands’ sensibilities, what do you expect the makeup to do, when it makes contact with a parched surface of months of piled-up dead skin cells? It sticks in gross, cakey patches that emphasize everything that’s not going well with the skin. Not a good look. What do you think the customer’s reaction to this is? To blame the makeup. To make me try another. And another. And another. And another. Nothing looks right. Nothing is ever going to look right. When I tell the client what the real problem is (bodies are weird! Skin is weird!) and how to fix it (exfoliate and moisturize!), they usually get mad and storm out of the store. It sucks to be me sometimes. So, often I lie. I just keep my tips to myself and try to talk the client into thinking one of the foundations we tried looks good. Or I’ll try to sell them a tinted moisturizer or BB cream so they’ll at least have *some* moisture.

    In short: I do people a disservice every day, because they won’t let me help them in any meaningful way.

    2. We layer our mascaras.

    When clients come into the store and ask me what mascara I have on, I respond with a lie 90% of the time. Not because I’m trying to mislead, but because if I tell the truth, that I’m wearing THREE mascaras, the reaction will not be positive. People will: a) look at me incredulously as if THAT is the lie and that I’m trying to sell them more products; b) get a glazed, defeated look because they’re tired of the best-looking makeup being the most labor-intensive; c) throw me a jealous, disgusted look as if I’m a ridiculous and decadent moron- the Sultan of Sephora (or wherever) diving into a vault of cosmetics like Scrooge McDuck (they are not wrong). Yeah, OK, so I get some stuff for free, big whoop?* What am I gonna do, NOT use it? Anyway, I learned early on in my career that all the best makeup artists layer mascara to get editorial-worthy results, so I’ve been doing it since I was still on a drugstore budget. Try it, you’ll like it. We all do it. I do not work with one single person who uses one mascara at a time.

    The recipe, this week at least, is: Dior maximizer (always), followed by Dior New Look, finished off with Lancome Hypnose Star.

    * know that the glamorousness of my free makeup swag swagger is heavily tempered by all the times I’ve had to pick up people’s used tissues and earwax-sodden cotton swabs from around the store.

    3. A good cat eye starts with pencil liner.

    Noticing a theme yet? That more products = professional makeup artist results. Sad but true. I’ve had so many customers in stores ask if a product is really necessary, and, before I can respond, launch into a tirade accusing brands of just making up products that people do not need just to make money. This is true of many industries, I suppose, but I respect the makeup industry because it is largely free of bloat, even if it doesn’t appear that way to the casual observer.

    The cateye is enigmatic due to its graphic simplicity, but anyone who’s attempted it knows that it’s much more difficult than it looks. The inherent difficulty is compounded by the widespread notion that it is a one-product operation. Not so. Most liquid eyeliners crack and separate when applied too heavily, but to get lashline-hugging accuracy with no pesky gaps, you would have to pass a liquid liner over the lashline several times. Which is why easy-to-apply pencil liner is the foundation to a successful cateye. It is also naturally more opaque than the liquid, and a deeper black is what you want when doing a cateye.

    Do I tell all of my clients this? Not always. I can tell when a person will be quick to accuse me of “upselling” them or padding out their basket, so I keep this bit of information to myself. Isn’t that crazy? That in today’s consumer marketplace I have to lie to appear more genuine? Awful. Only the hardcore few who I know won’t be daunted get the full disclosure: eyeshadow primer, light dusting of powder, black eyeliner pencil on the lashline, finish with a swoop of black liquid- and there you have the perfect cateye eyeliner.

    4. You don’t need full coverage foundation.

    In all my years, I’ve helped only a handful women who actually needed full coverage foundation, but I’ve sold it to countless hundreds who swore they needed it, that their skin was so awful, and wouldn’t hear a good thing about themselves otherwise. For 90% of women, a medium-coverage foundation and a little concealer is all it takes to get a natural-looking, flawless face. Heavier foundation looks awkward and masklike when it’s unnecessary. But this isn’t really about the foundation, but about an underlying ugliness that beauty professionals are singularly privy to.

    Women sometimes make hating on themselves look like a competitive sport. If I’m advising a group of women (in the retail environment, this is a service known as “giving a summit”) about something, and one starts in on herself, the others will invariably chime in trying to one-up each other in the self-deprecation department. A lot of them try to make it funny, but the attitude is so pervasive that it serves up nothing but Sads.

    Take, for example, the oft-encountered scenario of a mother bringing her daughter in for her first foundation. It’s perfunctory to ask, “how much coverage do you want: light, medium, or full?” and the young girl (typically with flawless skin) grins the uncomfortable grin of someone put on the spot and playacting in a way they feel they’re supposed to perform in a given situation and answers “full coverage.” She knows she doesn’t need it (which is why she never pushes back when I suggest it’s not necessary), but she does know she’s supposed to flagellate herself upon the altar of beauty, to come to this holy place and admit that she is flawed, and to ask humbly that we should help her to shroud her hideousness… Not really, but sort of. Some women are taught to believe that accepting the good things about the way we look is to be boastful at worst (see also: the “so you think you’re really pretty” exchange between Caty and Regina in Mean Girls) or insufficiently modest at best (modesty being one of the most classically revered “feminine” traits).

    There are a lot of people who believe that the beauty industry is somehow at odds with feminism, but even the most oblivious of makeup girls has had to stare this particular pathology in the face often enough to know that Something is Not Right Here. This knee-jerk self-hate at the makeup counter is a direct result of internalized misogyny and it is SO fucked up, and I am SO tired of it. Contrary to popular belief, to the people in the industry, the beauty industry is not about hating yourself or anyone else. It’s about playing up your best attributes and downplaying the things you’re not so fond of if possible, and doing it for yourself. I’m not going to come out and say makeup is empowering, but if used correctly it can be a patch. I’d like to do my part by every day encouraging those who would dog themselves to get real, and to look at makeup not as something that’s going to solve some “problem,” but as their way of taking back a little control of the narrative. I’ve taught women to use makeup to cover scars and birthmarks that held bad memories and came to define their self-image in a negative way. A little paint can turn a negative into a positive sometimes. I always want to end up on the side of positivity, but sometimes customers have to meet me halfway.

    The whole thing is so exhausting, though, and cutting through somebody’s body dysmorphia and self-hate just to sell them the correct thing is pretty time-consuming. My time literally is money, I have astronomical goals to make in 4 hours or less, so typically I do not argue with flawless young people who want full-coverage. I shade match it and sell it and move on. :(

    5. You do need a lipliner.

    After I’ve spent the 20-to-30 minutes that it takes to help a client select her perfect red lipstick (it’s a lengthy process of removing lip product, sanitizing testers, trying on, removing, trying again…) I am invariably hit with the same question, “Do I need a lipliner with this?” Usually I cop to it, but there are inevitably times when I cave in to the temptation to lie. Yeah, if you’re going to wear red, or any color that’s far from your natural lip tone, you’ll need a liner to increase staying power and to keep the whole operation looking tidy.

    So, why would I omit this information? You don’t have to be an expert to know what good lipstick is, all you have to do is try a few on and you’ll be well-versed in how to spot quality. I show high-end product (Dior, Givenchy, YSL, Hourglass) to any client who comes to me for lipstick, regardless of whether I think they’ll want to spend $30 on a tiny tube. Because every woman comes into the cosmetics store looking for the best thing, and I’m not going to show them what I know to be the best. When compared to the lower-end stuff (the price is usually only $5 different), there is a clear winner. They want that Dior red #999, because of course they do. It’s the best. But, in the end, I’ve just made some 18-year-old fall in love with a $30 lipstick and she only has a $50 gift card, but still needs to get her foundation, too. Am I going to tell her that in order to keep *my* lipstick looking supple and flawless, I’ve got a layer of balm ($23), waterproofing eyeshadow primer ($24), lip liner ($18) AND the aforementioned too-expensive luxury lipstick? Not always. I’m pretty good at reading people, and if I think she’ll back out of buying the lipstick if she knows the whole story, I’ll keep it to myself.

    Not for the reasons you may think. I’m not trying to salvage a sale, I’m trying to salvage excitement. If she puts the pricier lipstick down and settles for store brand, she’s not going to be nearly as happy. She may not be satisfied with the shade, and it’s not going to wear as well. She won’t reach for it as often, it has significantly less chance of becoming a signature part of her personal style, which is what every woman secretly wants when choosing a lipstick. They want a color they can recommend glowingly to a friend. They want to pass the shade down to their daughter or little sister when she’s old enough. This is something that she’ll never get by compromising, and, as lofty as the dream is, it’s too often crashed by the mere mention of a $12 lipliner. So I let it go. Because she may have needed my eye and my years of experience to narrow down 2,000 SKUs to find her perfect shade, but the lipliner is something she can figure out on her own.

    6. We like the way you look

    Often, but not always, I break the ice with a customer by paying her a compliment. Usually I comment on hair, jewelry, shoes, and bags. Then later, during the consultation, I’ll compliment something more personal like eye color or skin or something. I enjoy boosting people’s confidence and maybe making their day a little brighter. This is not a sales tactic. That would be deeply cynical. This is a hard industry, but I still try to be 100% genuine whenever possible. I may say things about products that aren’t true (usually lies by omission, not telling a client the product she professes to LOVE is garbage), but I don’t say things about people that aren’t true. I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t see beauty in every one of my clients. Also, as I mentioned above in the foundation segment, a lot of clients think that dogging themselves is either paying us salesfolk a complement or building some kind of feminine camaraderie. I say FUNK DAT! Putting yourself down is not cool. Comparing yourself to Photoshopped images and surgically-enhanced starlets is not cool. I left a stable, better-paying REAL job with benefits to work in a highly unstable, nearly perk-free job because I love it. I’m good at it. I love using my very expensive, hard-won knowledge to help real women like me. Cut yourself some slack and cut me some slack. You’re beautiful. Shaddup!

    7. Green-tinted primer/concealer is a gimmick

    I hate green primer. It’s overpriced, overhyped, useless and stupid. In all my years, I’ve only seen green primer work on 3 people. The rest either didn’t need it or were visibly disfigured by the stuff. Unless you’re shooting a movie or a spread for a fashion mag under extremely unforgiving lighting, you do not need that green primer. All it does is make people with ruddy skin look sallow and jaundiced in person. Instead, up your skincare game with anti-inflammatory products, curb your bad habits (smoking, picking, scrubbing your skin to death), and get a better coverage foundation or help the one you have along with some concealer.

    8. Don’t open that box

    Just because you are in a store shopping and intending to spend your hard-earned money does not give you the right to investigate live products in the store. What, you ask, is a “live product?” It’s the thing inside the box that is for sale that is not the tester. The tester is for investigating, the boxed product is not. I totally buy your story that one time you bought something and took it home and the wrong thing was inside the box. I don’t doubt you. BUT, if you need to look inside the box, ask an associate to do it for you while you watch. Why? Not only so we can guarantee that you won’t use the live product as a tester (I’ve seen it! Hundreds of times! Thinking of that one eyeliner you bought that gave you pinkeye that time? Yeah, that’s because some shit-assed 16-year-old opened the box and jabbed it all up in her filthy mucus membranes. Thinking of that mascara you bought that was already dried out? Not a factory error. Instead, the error of some box-opening douchebag who opened the mascara, got air in it, and put it back on the shelf), but also because you will probably tear the box.

    Associates know those little suckers well. We know how to open them with minimal-to-no damage. We know which end the seal is on. If you rip the seal, I will rip on you in the break room. Oh, and don’t think I didn’t see you rip one box open, check it, then put the ripped box back on the shelf and put the pristine one behind it in your basket. All because you couldn’t be arsed to read the shad name on the tester or the shelf. Dick. You know what happens to those ripped boxes? They get damaged out, thrown away. When you open, and subsequently tear, boxes of live product you might as well just shoplift it. That’s right, put it in your purse. We can’t sell product that has been visibly tampered with, so what you’re doing is as good as stealing. And then there’s the fact that you’re making a mess that we have to clean up and there are at least three sets of paperwork that have to be filled out for in-store damages. You are creating huge amounts of work and huge monetary losses for the store, which all could have been avoided if you just asked for help. Have some damn respect, and check your consumer entitlement at the door.

    Also: next time you want to complain about the steadily rising cost of the cosmetics you buy, why don’t you do a mental inventory of all the ripped boxes you put on the shelf and the things you bought without trying that you had to return. All part of the cost of doing business!

    9. That color doesn’t look good on you

    If you’re the lady with the blue eyes and the fair skin with the aqua-colored eyeliner looking for a new shade of turquoise or cerulean and your salesgirl, for some reason, keeps suggesting a slate or brown or copper eyeliner, maybe you should take the hint. Maybe. We as salesbots cannot come right out and tell you that something looks bad on you, but take it from me: cartoon-colored liner with no other makeup and sure as shit no mascara is a terrible look. Earth tones are boring, sure, but there’s a learning curve to using bright colors. We will gladly sit you down and show you how, after we’ve shown you the most flattering day look for your coloring. Don’t take it as an insult, all things are possible in makeup and we want to help.

    10. If I’m not offering you help, it could be because you’re beyond help.

    If you’re looking at Clinique, Origins, or Bare Minerals and nobody is offering to help you, it’s because we all think/know you’re a lost cause. Not only are people who are into these brands cultishly, slavishly devoted to these brands, but they are also smug dicks about it. 90% of the time, and offer of assistance is met with a pitying smirk and a haughty, “oh no, honey, I think I’ve got it.” What these ladies don’t know is that these three brands are among the most universally reviled in the cosmetics industry. People who know about ingredients, efficacy and how to read labels, in short people who generally know what they’re talking about, know these brands to be overhyped, overpriced, and substandard to nearly everything else in the store. Each of these lines has maybe 3 decent products, but still nothing that any self-respecting artist would use as her first choice. So bravo, hunnnnyyyyyy, for having a shitty attitude to go with your shitty taste in cosmetics. Good luck getting someone to help you with a gratis eyebrow tutorial.

  2. Look Younger Instantly, Part 2


    (Read Part 1 HERE)

    I recently watched Saving Mr. Banks, which really wasn’t that great of a movie, but MY GOD Emma Thompson’s makeup was so good. So good as to almost be distracting. Thompson, at 55, is a good 10 years younger than P.L. Travers was during the time in which the film is set. The makeup made her look older, yes, but still chic, attractive, and age-appropriate. In real life, Thompson herself prefers a very bronzed look, something that, in 1993 at least, did not escape the notice of then-husband Kenneth Branagh. For he based the whole beauty styling of Thompson’s Beatrice in his film adaptation on one throw-away line in Much Ado about Nothing: “I am sunburned.” ORLY?


    So much bronzer. Seriously, see this movie if you haven’t. Aside from stunt casting Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington, it’s perfection.

    Anyway, making Thompson, a blonde who’s into tans, look older was just a matter of swapping color patterns. They gave her a severe hairstyle, darker even than Traver’s real hair, and lightened her skin tone considerably. They toned her contouring waaay down and gave her barely-there blush. Why? Because as we age, contrast in the facial features goes down. Which is why playing up contrast (contouring & highlighting, brighter lipstick, brighter blush, eyeliner) makes us look younger. Something that also happens as we age is that the skin tone gets significantly more ruddy. Ruddiness is unattractive at any age, so the Saving Mr. Banks makeup artists spared Thompson’s Travers by not neglecting to bring light to the skin in the form of concealer, highlighter, and what appears to be gorgeous pearlescent finishing powder. It’s an interesting trick that some of what’s done in this film, makeup-wise, to make Thompson look older, is what you can do at home to look younger.

    6. Stroke of light: The YSL Touche Eclat pen and how to use it.


    Rule #1: This product is not a concealer. It is a highlighter. You use it in some of the same places you would use a concealer, but it’s not one of those. I know! If you were a dog, you’d have your head cocked at an adorable and impressive angle because: confuse. Allow me to explain.  This is a really cool product. It is a flesh-toned, non-sparkly illuminator (or highlighter, whatever, same diff) and, most people don’t know this, has skincare benefits. It is highly moisturizing and contains green tea extract, which is great for undereye depuffing and temporary wrinkle tightening.

    How does it make you look younger instantly? It’s all in how you use it: this product is to be applied in areas of darkness or sallowness and in wrinkles or depressions. Think of the justifiable popularity of fillers for making people look younger. Think of how supple, dewy, glowing skin looks younger. Think of how soft, diffused lighting brings out features and is flattering. YSL bottled all of that in this product. There are many similar products out there, and I have tried them all. Touche Eclat is hands-down the best.

    Where to use: undereye, inner eye corner, edges of the nostrils, crow’s feet area, along the tops of the cheekbones, in nasolabial folds, in marionette lines, in between brows, around lips, along the Cupid’s Bow. Dispense a small amount and blend with fingers. Easy.

    7. Do the dewy foundation


    Ooh, glowy!

    I’m about to drop some knowledge on you guys that is not pretty. Working in retail is tough, and it can sometimes bring out the worst in people. And by “people,” I mean me. There have been times when I’ve stood around for 15 minutes with my fellow reps marvelling at how someone (approaching or in) middle age could possibly think that caking their face in powder foundation is the best look for them. It’s not nice, but it happens.

    Powder foundation, no matter what kind you use, settles in lines and pores, robs moisture from your skin, and makes you look old. Thems the facts. Ask ANY makeup artist out there, and they will all tell you that even setting powder is dicey after 40. Argue with me all you want about how you love your Bare Minerals, and doesn’t it look great on you; in the store, I will be nodding in agreement with you and saying, “yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh,” because I’m not a monster. Inside my head, though, I’m mentally imagining how much better you’d look in some grown-up, big-girl foundation. I really do want what’s best for you, ladies. (Which is not to say that I haven’t met older ladies that look great in a powder foundation. I have, but it’s rare. I cannot impress upon you enough how exceptional that is.)

    The best liquid foundations that I have personally tried and tested on probably 200+ ladies with aging skin are as follows: Make Up For Ever Liquid Lift Foundation (for medium, buildable coverage), Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation (for sheer, lightweight, buildable coverage), YSL Touche Eclat Foundation (light-to-medium coverage, my personal go-to foundation), Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation (if, for some reason, you require full coverage), Perricone No Foundation Foundation (if you desire BB cream, or a makeup with light coverage and serious skincare benefits, as vitamin C ester is the SECOND INGREDIENT. I mean, holy hell).

    A note about coverage: If you want to look younger, do the least amount of coverage you can get away with. If you have discoloration, scars, or skin issues, you should be focusing more energy on addressing those with your skincare. There’s more payoff that way. Trust. Also, look how full coverage foundation makes even baby-faced Katy Perry look kind of older and rough:


    Girl needs to skip to step 10: PEELS.

    Now comes the sticky subject of setting powder. I really prefer no powder if you can spare it, because I am first and foremost a skincare nut. But if you need your makeup to stay put, a powder is probably better than a setting spray, because those are pretty much watered-down hairspray for your face. Not so good. But, finishing powders don’t have to look dry and cakey. Go for a luminous powder like Mac Mineralize (or try the homemade mineralize I MacGuyvere’d up in my last post), Bare Minerals Illuminating Mineral Veil (see? I don’t hate the ENTIRE brand!), or Hourglass Ambient Lighting powder (of the series, Diffused Light is my favorite, as its yellow tone can help cancel out red).

    8. Contouring is not just for Kardashians

    …Or should I have said “kontouring?” LOL. First of all, a pronunciation lesson: It is “CON-tour”, not “con-TOUR” or “kin’-TOUR”, OK? I know, some longhaired basic you watch on YouTube calls it “kn’TOUReeng,” but that’s wrong. And, while we’re at it, let me please just state the disclaimer that I have to use on clients on a daily basis, which strangely blows their minds: Anyone can have a YouTube channel. There is no bar to entry on becoming a makeup video ho (the same can be said for having a Tumblr, but just know that I’ve been doing this shit and getting paid for it off-and-on for 13 years). There are YouTube girls out there who tell people not to use moisturizer before putting on foundation, OK? That’s the level of Crazy we’re dealing with. If you honestly think the makeup tables backstage at fashion week, chaperoned by the elite makeup artists of the world, are not crowded with 50% skincare products… Pssssht, you need to sit the fuck down.

    Anyway, contouring can make you look younger, but not so fast. If you’re not careful, contouring can be a bit severe, and can make you look older. How else do you think makeup artists make 14-year-old Ukrainian girls look like fully-fledged adults who’ve experienced the onset of menses?


    See? The trick to contouring when you want to look younger is to use a light hand, and maybe do a powder contour rather than a cream. I know, I know, I’m making your head explode with this wishy-washiness on powder products. Just know that with contouring, the powder is not going everydamnwhere.


    Not the difference in how much contour is being used here. There’s more highlight than contour (which is why the YSL pen is listed above), and the main focus should be the jowls area. I really regret having to say “jowls,” but there it is. You’ll also want to contour the nose, as a bigger honker is a sign of age. I remember how freaked out I was when I learned the fact that your nose and ears never stop growing. THEY NEVER STOP. That is my nightmare, basically. Because I hate my nose. BUT, fun fact, the definitive way to spot a celebrity nose job is if their nose does not get bigger with age. Rhinoplasty significantly hampers the expansion process. I’m looking at you, Michelle Pfeiffer! Anyway, contouring tip: apply contour with a small brush for precision (there’s nothing worse than getting it in the wrong place), and blend with a larger, fluffier brush. Like so:


    9. Get a fuller lip

    I’m going to do my best to refrain from using beauty-industry Thesaurus words like “pout” to describe your lips, because UGH. Anyway, what I’m about to share is nothing new. You can use lipliner to sculpt your lips into appearing fuller. So well-worn is this information that I could illustrate this whole point with pics:


    Use liner around the edges and corners, leaving the center of the lips blank.


    Highlight the center with light, shimmery things.imageYou can even use concealer!



    OK, now for the patented LLB spin on old hat. You know what I’m going to say, right? Don’t use dull, greyish, or brown lipliner. DUH. Light, bright, clear, sheer colors look young. Matte, dull, earthy, and brownish colors drag the face down. Women of color look amazing in plums, terra cottas, chocolates, reds, and jewel tones. Palefaces should not fear pink, plum, coral, or even red. I mean, fuck, there are not rules as long as you’re choosing fun colors. ATTENTION OVER-40 WHITE LADIES: “russet” and “rust” are not fun colors and they do not look good on you. I know you went to Merle Norman and “had your colors done” in 1980, but that was bad information then, and it’s bad information now. ALSO: You do not know what the color “mauve” is. This is what you show me when you ask for “mauve lipstick”:



    A brownish-reddish with metallic tones, yeah? This is COPPER or RUST, and it’s dated and unflattering on you. At least once a week at work, a woman comes in clutching the sad, ancient, worn-down remains of some godawful metallic earth toned lipstick asking me to match it. Often, I can’t. Often, they’ll explain that they’ve been to 100 makeup counters and no one has this color. It never dawns on the poor dears, and I’m too nice to point it out, that the reason these colors have been discontinued is that they are horrifically dog-ugly, unflattering, and no one wants them. The universe is telling you that it’s time to make a change. It is also telling you, in the form of my blog, that copper is not mauve, so stop correcting me.


    THIS is mauve. Mauve is a PINK, people, not an earth tone. It’s a pinky-purple-taupe, and it’s an awesome color for lipstick. You should wear it.

    Also consider lip plumping products. I understand why people are afraid of these. Basically, if it doesn’t irritate or sting your lips, the product should be OK for long-term use. I really like the Buxom lip glosses. They actually do work, and they stay on really well. If gloss isn’t your thing (understandable), my secret weapon is Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion. It’s a hyaluronic and marine collagen plumping face serum, and hella pricey, but it’s pretty cost-effective and totally ass-crazy-amazing if you only use it on your lips. Try it! It’s the non-surgical alternative to comically-pouty Lana Del Rey mouf.

    10. Do a chemical peel


    Do yourself a favor and google image search “before and after peel.” It’s amazing, because it’s like Faces of Meth, but in reverse! Peels de-age you with the speed of meth!

    Awwww, but I tricked ya! This is a makeup post, and I’m talking to you about skincare! The old bait-and-switch! But for real, doing a peel makes you look younger, makes your skin tighter and smoother, pores less noticeable, IMMEDIATELY. I look freaking 20 years old the whole next day after a peel. I actually had a waitress refuse to serve me a glass of wine last week when my BF and I went out for a bite and I didn’t bring my purse. I’ve been drinking legally longer than Facebook has existed, people. Skincare magic is REAL.

    I love the Ole Henriksen Power Peel for that take-no-prisoners, get-everything-off type of peel. But it is STRONG. Proceed with caution. For a wimpier but no less good peel, try Exfolikate Gentle or PTR Laser-free Retexturizing scrub. You can eventually work up to a big boy peel. More on this later.

    11. Tightline your lower lid (AKA waterline).

    In the last post, I told you to tightline your upper lashline. I think I may have neglected to mention that you should do that with a really dark color like black, espresso, navy blue, or charcoal. Can you tightline your lower lid with these colors? Yes, but it can make the eyes appear smaller or squinty. So why am I telling you to do this? Because of gravity. Sagging breasts, cheeks, jawlines and upper knee skin is something we’re all aware happens with age. However, an oft-overlooked area of sagging is the lower eyelid. Not only does the eyelid sag, but the pink parts of the eye darken and become redder as we age. I promise I’m not trying to give you guys complexes about body parts you’ve never even thought of, just laying bare the facts of what makeup artists do, day in and day out, to make people look younger because that is what they ask us to do.

    Now, a lot of people will tell you to line the lower lid with white eyeliner to fake a youthful, wide-eyed look. BUT, I don’t always think that’s true. To contrast, allow me to note that in Saving Mr. Banks, Emma Thompson’s lower lid WAS lined in white. NOT, as we usually think for a youthful doe-eye, but to make the eyelid look wider and looser which was actually in service of making her look older.


    Anyway, I hate this. To me, it always looks fake. I mean, yeah, all makeup looks fake, but we’re talking cosplay fake. It is in itself a “look,” as opposed to a flattering daily makeup trick. There are lots of brands now making matte peachy flesh-toned eyeliners (Stila liner in Topaz is one example) for tightlining, and I think they’re better than white for counteracting the deep red tones that appear on the inner lid in mature skin.


    But still, I think you could do one better by lining in a darker color. Mature ladies, being themselves storied and dignified, don’t always need a wide-eyed look. A darker (but not too dark) liner creates a tighter, more pulled-in lower lid look befitting a grown-ass lady who has her shit together.


    Think shimmering taupe, khaki, silvery grey, bronze or rose gold for the inner rim. These will bring light to the eyes while still defining and creating a bit of shadowy mystery.

    That’s all for this epic 2-part post about mature beauty (did you happen to catch the Shakespeare tie-in in both posts?). You can use these tips even if you’re still a spring chicken or whatever, because good makeup is sexy at any age. Who doesn’t want to look this hot:

    Her makeup game is on point. Girl looks GOOD.

  3. Brush Brouhaha

    Earlier today on the productivity-killing demon that is Facebook, I posted a link to THIS very informative post about foundation. It is ever so rare that I find myself agreeing with a beauty editor, but homegirl is spot-on. #1 alone makes me all girl-crushy and want to ask her out on a friend-date and shit.

    There are minor points which I do not wholly co-sign, ie: she argues that when the shade is in doubt always go darker. I always go lighter, because most people are lighter around the eyes, and going darker look craaaaazy around the eyes, plus it has been my experience that going darker on one’s foundation exaggerates the look of dark circles, age spots, and scarring. It also sucks to have to apply foundation to your neck for blending purposes, as it’s more likely you’ll get makeup on your clothes. What if you need to wear a tactleneck? What then?


    My trick is to go lighter if you must, and tone down face/body contrast using contour or bronzer. In my day-to-day life, I use a slightly lighter foundation, because my face is quite noticeably darker than my neck. Going lighter and matching my foundation to my neck works for me. Mileage may vary for other folks out there. The other issue I had with the post was the use of a traditional (flat) foundation brush. I’m all about voluminous, fluffy, “airbrush” style brushes. You’re about to see why in this post!

    Also, this arrived in my email:

    Jenn: “I need to hop on the brush train. Could you point me to a good resource (or just tell me how yourself!) on the actual correct way to apply foundation with a brush? I think I’ve used way too much product whenever I tried it before and ended up rubbing most of it back off with my finger. Purpose: defeated!”

    My friends are the best. Always there in a pinch to get me off my ass to write something when my natural inclination is to do really pointless shit like read Dlisted and organize my Pinterest boards.

    Here’s How it Do, with your host, ME:


    (In my pajamas, because I have only so many fucks to give)

    1. Do whatever you’re going to do to your face like apply moisturizer and primer. (truth? I don’t use primer. It does nothing for me. Most primers actually cause my makeup to come off sooner rather than stay on longer. Again: your mileage may vary. Most people benefit from primer. To get the best results, generally, apply primer only where you need it, dolls) If your primer, or your intended foundation, is a BB cream, those must be applied with the fingers. Do not use a brush with a BB except for maybe smoothing out the final product.


    2. Select your foundation. My #1, gold-star, holy grail foundation is YSL Touch Eclat foundation (pictured). I tried 100+ foundations over the course of several years before finding this stuff, and it’s really the only thing that works for me (I have dry, sensitive, redness-prone skin with wrinkles that I don’t want anyone noticing. My desired coverage level is medium-to-light). Other kinds I like: Make Up For Ever Face & Body, Make Up For Ever Liquid Lift, Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation, Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation. While the coverage level varies, I’ve chosen all of the above formulations for their impeccably smooth, skin-like texture and slightly dewy finish. I like foundation that looks like skin, not makeup, and these all look like amazing skin. I will do a post soon about my top picks for foundation for various skin types, so stay tuned!

    3. Portion control: Start by dispensing a pea-sized amount of foundation onto the back of your hand. You can always add more later. But, with airbrush brushes, you can reduce foundation consumption to mere drops! Who doesn’t want that?!


    4. Tools: When it comes to foundation brushes, Sephora Collection boasts the best in the industry right now, and the prices are very reasonable for the quality. Pro Airbrush #55 (pictured) is my favorite foundation brush of all time. It applies and blends foundation (at the same time!) with the bristles sucking up very little product. This brush is best for light-to-medium coverage. If you want more coverage, opt for Pro Flawless Airbrush #56. Whatever airbrush-style brush you choose, make sure that the bristles are soft, fluffy and densely-packed enough so that when you press down on the top of the bristles, your finger doesn’t sink right in, separating the bristles.

    Think about it: if your finger goes straight to the middle of the bristles, that’s where your foundation is going to go; right into the center of the brush, where it can’t reach your face.

    5. Here’s a Bob Ross maneuver for ya: Dip the brush into the edge of the glob of foundation to pick up the product. This is important, as you do not want to use too much. Even airbrush brushes can get all clogged with foundation if you ram them into a big glob of the stuff.


    It should look like paint in the image above. If you’re unsure, here’s a gif of me doing it:


    6. Starting in the center of the face, or wherever you need the most coverage, gently buff the foundation on in small, circular motions. This way, you’re applying and blending at the same time. My clients look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them it doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes to do my makeup every day, and this is the main reason why. Repeat, picking away slowly at the glob of foundation until its gone, or until you’ve achieved enough coverage, whichever comes first.


    In a way, you should use your airbrush foundation brush to apply *liquid* foundation the way most people apply *powder.* Am I blowing your minds a little bit?

    7. Neaten up or blend down the neck if that’s what you need to do, then dab on some concealer in the necessary places.

    8. Grab a setting powder. Now, typically I do not like powder. It makes me look old and irritates my skin, but I understand that some people need it. What you DON’T want to do is get a big, fat brush and kind of violently dust the stuff all over your face.


    I’ve seen so many people do this and it BUGS. They end up wiping most of their foundation off, and it just looks so vulgar and primitive. Instead, I do something akin to the Goss method, using a domed powder brush to press and roll the powder onto the skin.


    See? Doesn’t that look nicer? More refined? Let’s see it again:


    You can do the wiggly, violent dusting motion later, if you want, to knock off any excess powder.

    As you can see from the photo above containing my full arsenal for this tutorial, I’m using Diorskin Nude powder with a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ added to it. I love a glowy, dewy, ethereal finish so ideally I’d have some MAC mineralize powder in my life, but  since my job is about as lucrative as sharecropping right about now, no dice. Necessity is the mother of invention, so I necessarily had to invent myself some shiny-finish powder by mixing a 2:1 ratio of Diorskin Nude powder and Make Up For Ever Star Powder #902. Best experiment ever. It’s like the makeup equivalent of the amazing food concoctions that people make when stoned. One time, my (high as Snoop Dogg) sister made a snack of toasted Eggo waffles topped with birthday cake ice cream sprinkled with Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles. She said it was the most amazing thing she’d ever eaten, but trying it again while sober yielded lackluster results. UM, but your face won’t lack any luster if you try my homemade mineralize powder! Good segue? No?

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the first of many tutorials to come featuring me and my super weird face. Contact me with questions, criticisms, and special requests!

  4. 10(ish) Products to Make You Look Younger Instantly

    First of all, please excuse the Ladies’ Home Journal-ishness of this title. But I’m sure it got your damn fickle, vain attention, so onward:

    "…and ‘tis our fast intent
    To shake all cares and business from our age;
    Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
    Unburthen’d crawl toward death.”

    imageRetirement is infantilizing, y’all! The strength is in the youth! #YOLO. That’s from King Lear, dudes. Which reminds me, I took the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge yesterday and got an impressive 64! Which reminded me, I literally had completely forgotten because I am old and my days are long and I feel I’ve lived 5 lifetimes since this happened, but- as a bookworm youth, I had read everything Shakespeare had ever written. How does somebody forget something like that?

    Anyway, uninitiated, I looked up Gilmore Girls and it was like, “Lorelai blah blah… Rory wanted to go to Harvard but ends up going to Yale blah blah… WHY should I care?” I get it that it’s about the characters, but I want to LEARN something from my entertainment, which is why I’m finally watching The Wire. Look for my forthcoming essay “The Drug Game in the Age of Beepers: A Technologically Anachronistic Love Story.” Once The Wire is complete, however, I feel I’m going to have to cave to social pressure to watch Breaking Bad. Really, I’m afraid to watch that show because I really dont want to like anything that has to do with meth. Meth is my sworn enemy in this world. Have you SEEN what it does to people’s skin? *shudder* After all, saving the world’s skin is my birthright, my calling. I’m like Kal-El… except instead of being the most boring hero ever for a surfeit of totally wack-ass powers and a yawn-inducing dearth of weaknesses, my superpower is picking the right moisturizer for people’s skin.

    But, this isn’t about that. This is mostly about makeup, which is why this post is going to see a lot more eyeballs than if it were about skincare. Will there be skincare here? Um, YEAH. Shut up.

    1. Fill in your goddamn brows.

    You there! You who doesn’t think you need it, YOU need to fill in your brows. Unless you are seriously blessed with Young Brooke Shields action, fill in your damn brows. WHY? Because brows thin as we age, and the eye area is where we show our first signs of aging. So naturally, filling in brows is a great way to look younger faster. If your brows are way thin, do you need to overdraw them in order to achieve the proper ratio? YES. If you’re worried that it will look fake, allow me to remind you that you’re reading a makeup post on a blog about makeup. It’s all fake. No one cares. I will do a post on how to properly fill in later, so no worries.


    See the difference? Which looks older?


    See here? These are overdrawn brows. Look how much higher that full brow makes her eyes look. Instant facelift. Ignore the unfortunate lip liner.

    Also, before anybody accuses me of posting about aging illustrated exclusively with pictures of young people:


    BROWS, guys.

    2. BLUSH. Bright blush, mothra-fockers!

    I’ve said it time and again, and after this, I promise I will never post about it again. But like? Can we *JUST* wear blush? Unless you’re deliberately doing period makeup, wear blush in a bright, sheer color that complements your skintone.


    See that bright red compact? See how it actually looks on the skin? See how you have to stop being such a pussy?



    You think these ladies above are wearing that anemic, grey-pink, dusty, brownish blush? You think they’re wearing bronzer instead of blush? NO. And neither should you. UGH.


    Is that a bruise?! No, it’s just an ugly, necrotic choice of blush color. Stopit!!


    Folks don’t realize this, but I have an objective set of eyes in my head and I can see you better than you can. Above is what people actually look like with a dull blush color or bronzer instead of blush. In a word, haggard, and way older than you actually are. Sorry.

    3. Larger-than-life lashline:


    Here’s a little peek at the man behind the curtain. You can clearly see Dame Helen’s false lashes. To this you should aspire.

    Again, lashes grow in shorter, thinner, and sparser as we age, so a full set of hairs around your peepers will make you look younger. Am I suggesting you wear falsies every day? NO. In fact, I’ve met some women who have worn individual and strip lashes daily and it’s led to some kind of traumatic alopecia of their own natural lashes. I think not washing their faces regularly had something to do with it as well. Anyhow, the easiest way to fake longer, lusher lashes is by tightlining:


    How to tightline? Literally flip up the eyelid a bit by gently pressing IN with one finger, not yanking UP and with a soft brush or pencil, color under the lashline.


    See? Easy.


    This is the effect of Dior Maximizer.

    Also, use mascara primer as a base under your mascara. This will give you a falsie effect in no time. My favorite is the Diorshow Maximizer, because it conditions the lashes and helps them grow. You could also use Urban Decay Lushlash mascara, because it’s cheap, layerable, and I saw a TON of growth when I was using it.

    4. If you can grow your lashes, why not your brows?


    YES WE CAN! Dudes, you can grow your brows back. I absolutely ruined my brows in the 90s (thanks, GWEN!). They looked like commas, it was awful. Suddenly, when I was in college, bold brows came back into fashion, and I was all, “WHYYYYYY?” But I read an article in some beauty magazine, maybe Jane, that said to swipe toner on your brows every night. Apparently, this would clear the follicle enough that it will start producing hair again. In my case, it worked. BUT, nowadays you can do one better:


    Anastasia Brow Enhancing Serum to regrow brows. I’ve seen it work. Plus, Anastasia is owned by the same parent company as Latisse, so you know they’re swapping recipes. Obviously, it won’t grow brows that were not there to begin with.

    5. Bright lipstick.


    FACT: Greater facial contrast makes us look younger.

    TL:DR? It’s like this: Facial contrast declines as part of the aging process. Eyeliner, bright blush, bright lipstick, these things boost contrast, making you look younger. Another thing: Bold lips are de rigueur, and NOTHING makes you look younger than keeping up with current trends. Don’t be afraid to be bold. When I see an older dame rocking a fur-trimmed sweater, glitter nails and bright, fuschia lipstick, I don’t think “OMG, she looks ridiculous, someone come douse her in boxy clothes from J. Jill, teeny depressing floral prints, and beige before she gets the idea that life is worth living!” NO, I think she’s got it the fuck figured out, unlike so many dried-up, sweater set-rocking lemmings who believe that crap about wrinkles and matte shadow. The truth is, people just want license to be as boring and basic as possible. “The Rules” about how you should look while aging (or, at any point in your life, really!) just provide that excuse.

    I mean, my goal is not 100% to shame people for whom bright colors are just not a part of their personality. Though, if that IS the case, then how cool can your personality possibly be? Not very (I’M KIDDING!)… I just want to give ups to the people who are like, “I wish I could wear that!” Just wear it! You’ll look awesome. Jeez. Life is too short. People, especially young girls, are always coming into my stores asking, “what’s the right color of lipstick for me?” My answer is always the same: “What colors do you like? What do you WANT to wear?”


    "Don’t dream it, be it." If Rocky Horror has any message at all to take home, it’s those 5 words. Even if your dream is dressing up as someone else’s sexual perversion and then acting out a movie while it’s playing in the same room with you. GOD, just do what you want and stop whining about "pulling it off." Nobody cares.

    Intrigued? Infuriated? Shaken to your very core? Just wait for INSTALLMENT 2 in this series!

  5. Contrite Before Christmas


    I may be an insufferable know-it-all, but I can admit to being wrong.

    Hey dudes, remember when I said that manual exfoliation doesn’t do shit? Turns out I was wrong. Chemical exfoliation is still the way to go if you want stellar results, but throwin’ down a little grit still has its place!


    The elixir of life.

    Highly Unscientific Anecdata Ahoy: I haven’t scrub-scrubbed my face in nearly a year with pretty awesome results. Twice weekly acid peels have been passing considerable muster up to this point. Hell, I know a gal, a fabulous broad (Hi BECCA!), who uses daily AHA/BHA peel pads twice a day AND uses the same 20% glycolic peel as me twice per week, I mean DAMN. That’s very nearly too much exfoliation for me, but her skin is totally better than mine. I’ll bet you she doesn’t have Flaky McCroissantface problems right now like I do. I digress…

    BUT, the fact is now it is winter, now the air is dry, I’m constantly traveling (with my face caked full of makeup. Did you know that makeup kind of dries out your skin? It does.), and I’m not drinking nearly the amount of water that I should, instead opting for a Stumptown Coffee I.V. all day, erryday. Bad news bears. Needless to say, my face is has been unprofessional-looking in it’s arid, visibly flaky state. It has rendered me insecure and I’ve been sucking at my job as a result.


    I’m wobbly and fragile like a newborn baby deer when it comes to two things: my mug, and my integrity.

    So here’s the deal: I did my usual Lemon Strip peel, and my face still looked like a papier mache mask two days following. So last night I turned to my trusty exfoliating friend, baking soda. I mixed some in (2:1 ration of soda to cleanser) with my usual cleanser and damn if that didn’t completely solve the problem. Egh. I’m still pretty freaked out about using as my facial exfoliator the same product that I employ to sand baked-on stains out of my oven, (not nearly as freaked out, mind you, as I am about having unintentionally misled people) but whatever. If something works, it works. I hope my (mis)trials help somebody out there. Knowledge is an ongoing thing and I hope to share all that I have with you guys.

    Please feel free to point out all the other shit I’ve been wrong about this year during the Airing of Grievances immediately following the solemnity of our Festivus meal. Thank you, and I look forward to defeating you during the Feats of Strength.


  6. In Which I am a Beauty Blogger Cliche, Gushing about Creme de La Mer

    So, my last several posts have been advice posts for my buddies out there. The next few will be as well, but I thought I’d throw down another one to break up the monotony* a bit. A friend linked me to THIS article, saying,

    Ok, so I feel like this is kind of bullshit. Because it IS possible to have skin that looks like it does in the “after photoshop” picture with some time and effort. But then again, it is possible for many women to have super model bodies if they spend all of their time on that pursuit too…what do you think?

    Basically, yeah, it’s totally possible. Aside from the eyebrows being filled in in the photo on the right, my skin pretty much looks like that without makeup. But, I recognize my privilege in working in the beauty industry and getting some (but def not all) amazing products for free. Also, my skincare routine takes time (mostly for my twice-weekly peels/masks, the rest takes maybe a total of 10 minutes a day, if that) and dedication that a lot of people straight-up aren’t willing to put forth. A few months of good lifestyle, anti-imflammatory skincare, clarisonic, nightly retinol and daytime SPF50, nearly anyone’s skin can look like the photo on the right. It’s a shame, really, because having nice skin frees you from having to be insecure about makeup in the first place.

    Even though it’s tangential and a bit off-topic, this exchange got me thinking about putting my money where my mouth is. Yes, there’s already a makeup-free photo of me on this blog, but the lighting is bad. I’m going to take a better photo with a better camera and post it soon. Seems only fair, if I’m to be doling out advice. Also, if I’m to tell people what products to use, I should probably divulge what I’m using right now, non? Keep in mind that I’m still working through the mountain of free products given to me by my old employer. I will indicate gratis products with an asterisk, *, and let you know which ones I would intend to purchase with my own money, or if I plan to unsubscribe from their figurative newsletter. On with the show!

    * I’m also going to break up the monotony by not posting product photos or linking to products. If you need further info on a product, you can Google it, child. Mama’s fingers are tired.



    First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser*, $18. This is a good cleanser. It removes makeup exceptionally well, eliminating my need to buy makeup remover, which I just love. And, while it’s not *too* drying, I miss the suppleness and velvety-face feeling that the Fresh Soy Face Wash* ($39) provided me. I will be buying the Soy when this runs out. Don’t forget, guys, that I have a Clarisonic (Note the lack of asterisk. I bought that ish with my own money) and use it nightly.



    Perricone Firming Facial Toner, $39. I love this toner. It makes my pores smaller, and my skin gets so firm that I can’t even, ahem, “manually evacuate” my pores anymore. Which is good, because picking at your skin is BAD, MMKAY? The only drawback is that it does burn a bit (hey glycolic, heeeey) and may not be suitable for really sensitive skin. Also, it’s a tad drying. Not sure if I’ll repurchase this, or spring for the Perricone Serum Prep ($145). Serum Prep has all the goodness of this toner, plus phospholipids to prevent dryness and oodles of anti-aging peptides. Basically if these two toners were characters on Girls, my toner would be Shoshanna, who is hardworking and cute and perfect in her own way. While Serum Prep is Jessa, the chic, fabulous-but-difficult European cousin.

    Night Treatment:


    Philosophy Miracle Worker Retinol Pads*, $79 (60-day supply). UGH, how I love you, retinol! The basic idea is this: retinoids are among the FEW, vanishingly FEW, ingredients which are PROVEN anti-aging. It is scientifically assured that a person who uses a retinoid will look better for longer than a person who does not. If you have purchased a ticket to ride the anti-aging express, your journey is not complete without some form of retinol. This stuff makes my skintone soooo even, and it makes the wrinkles go away and stay away. I look years younger since I’ve been using these. Bonus: no irritation and dryness like Ive gotten from other retinols. Yay! Two thumbs way up. Fine family fun. The feel-good product of the year. Will purchase again.



    Hada Labo Anti-Aging Hydrator, $18. I love this stuff. Love, love, love. It’s cheap and keeps my skin hydrated like WHOA. I went out of town to visit family last week, involving TWO cross-country flights and TWO 6-hour car rides. I did not pack this serum, and my skin was flaky and busted by the time I got home. It was so flaky, I looked like Rock Biter from the Neverending Story. For reals. It took a few days of intense babying and twice-daily applications of this serum to get me back to my usual Baller Status, skin-wise.

    Bonus Serum, because I’m a product-hoarding junkie and a privileged asshole:


    Fun Fact: there are no funny pirate photos on the internet. Except this photo. This photo is amazing.

    Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil*, $45. When I need a little extra hydration, I add two teeny, tiny droplets of this to the Hada Labo before applying. It is sooo nice. It’s basically pure rosehip oil, which hydrates and brightens the skin, as rosehip oil is a natural source of vitamins C and A. For young people with zero-to-first-signs of aging, vitamin C should be your best friend! It’s not terribly harsh, it’s one of the few ingredients proven to stave off wrinkles and photo-aging, AND it will keep you from getting scurvy! Live to pirate another day! This is one of the cheaper oils and/or sources of C out there, so its a worthy purchase.

    Day Cream, Sunscreen Edition:

    Fresh Soy Moisturizing Cream SPF 20*, $35. This stuff? Eh, it’s OK. I’m literally only using it because it was free and it has SPF. Truth? It kinda breaks me out, because the SPF is a chemical sunscreen, which my skin hates. But whatever. I’ll probably replace it with some other sunscreen moisturizer.

    Day Cream Two, no sunscreen:


    Do you guys remember her? That singer Vitamin C? They tried so hard to make her happen that they even made a Barbie, but then she kind of didn’t happen and ohmygodi’mOLDshutup.

    Korres Wild Rose Face Cream*, $35. This is my second free jar of this, just FYI. But it’s just lovely, and I was going to replace the jar the very week I was given another one for free. Anyway, my last happy customer, from the Corgi post, has just reported back that she loves this cream (and the Soy wash) and can’t stop touching her face. FYI, the rose in this cream is a natural source of vitamin C. You can never have too much C. Almost never. Plus, the price is good! Oh, just a note as to why I have two day creams: sometimes, in Portland, the sun doesn’t come out. Therefore, I’ll use this instead of the soy.

    Night Cream:


    Ref: Here

    Creme de La Mer*, $$$$$ prices vary, but it ain’t cheap. Real talk? I was skeptical of La Mer. I knew it had mineral oil (which is bad for some people, but my skin loves mineral oil), which is universally understood to be a not-good ingredient (but, meh, whatever). Not only that, but La Mer is one of those Frenchy brands that is all high-fallutin’ and doesn’t make their ingredients list highly accessible, as they use what is known in the industry as a “proprietary blend”, which is a secret, protected recipe not unlike the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices. Normally, my pesky code of ethics forces me to give a crap about stuff like that. But, you guys, OMG, I DO NOT CARE. OUR LOVE IS PURE AND REAL, AND YOU CAN’T KEEP US APART! This is the only stuff I will ever use on my poor, poor, painfully dry skin at night. Why? It creates that occlusive barrier I talked about in my Alaska post. Normally, in the winter, I wake up in the mornings with dry skin and these creepy horizontal dehydration lines on my cheeks (Hello! I drink too much caffeine!), except when I use this. I should never, never skip it. Ever.

    I skipped last night (I am not exempt from laziness, you know), for example, and this morning my skin was so dry it almost hurt to smile. So as I type this, I have a hydrating mask on (Kate Somerville Quench Mask*, $40. Don’t like smell, may not repurchase) so that my makeup doesn’t look like German chocolate cake frosting on my face later.

    OK, let’s talk price. Right now, I’m using sample jars a friend of mine gave me. Here is a photo of the size (all the way to the left):


    An eeency little jar of that size last me between 2 and 3 weeks of nightly use. You only need the smallest amount. Like, the size of a lentil. It’s super-thick, so you have to warm it up before applying, unless you just love having big, bulging, cystic zits. Then, you know, by all means, use a dime-sized glob and apply directly to your face.

    Bottom line: This stuff is amazing. The sticker-shock upfront is a bit much, but the value? A jar of this will last forever and ever and it will SAVE your skin from the ravages of winter, even if you’re not as dry as I am. If you’re curious, go to a La Mer counter near you and get a sample. One tiny jar the size of a Barbie shoe made a believer out of me, it’ll make a believer out of you! I am saving up to buy a jar, obvs.

    Twice-Weekly Peels:


    Liz LEMON at a STRIP club! The internet it a magical thing, folks. Look at those classy, demure, elegant nails, y’all!

    Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel*, $40. I do not use scrubs to exfoliate my skin. I use this. 20% glycolic acid. BUT, keep in mind that this is very strong, and I spent the better part of 18 months working my way up to be able to use such strong peels. I’ve got a post in the pipe of how to stair-step your way up, so stay tuned. I will be buying this, over the “better” peels out there, because the price is right, and a jar lasts forever.

    Bonus Suncreen:

    Algenist SPF 50*, $45. A girl has got to protect her skin. Especially when said girl uses glycolic and retinol on the regular. This stuff protects fine, but it’s a tad drying. Also, I don’t like that it’s got a chemical sunscreen, which, for some strange reason, does not break me out in this formulation. Weird. Still, will not repurchase. I’m opting, instead for an all-mineral sunscreen that will hopefully be less drying. Contenders include: Perricone Photo Plasma (the front-runner), Clarins SPF 40, Josie Maran Argan Protect SPF 40 (currently being reformulated and re-packaged, so it’s not available right now, but I will be sampling once it is released).

    Eye Cream:


    Look! They made a horror movie about my eyes! They’ll make horror movies about anything. Wake me when they make one about blackheads. Oh wait, they already did!

    Ole Henriksen Visual Truth Eye Cream*, $45. I use my eye creams mainly for hydration and to banish my dark circles. Eh, this one is just OK. The La Mer concentrate eye cream is WAY better, but pricey. Also, Kate Somerville Cytocell is the jam, but it’s $75, so I dunno what to do. I may buy a La Mer gift set, because I need the cream in my life anyway.

    Bonus Eye Cream, because DECADENCE, that’s why!


    Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel*, $38. This stuff is my secret weapon. I use it as an eye mask/barrier (occlusive) cream for the eyes. I was getting the teeniest little fine lines under my eyes, but I cracked open a jar of this and erased them all like Marty McFly erased his totally superfluous-yet-annoying siblings by altering the past in Back to the Future. The trick is to use a biggish glob, smear it on like a patch OVER your other eye cream. Again: Baller Status. The jar is huge. And it works. Will repurchase.

    Lip Stuff:


    Who’s the Transformer now, bitch?

    Hada Labo Serum + Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm, $18 and $14, respectively. Recently, I read THIS interview with Megan Fox where she says she uses CeraVe (bitch, please) and can’t live without aquaphor for her surgically-enhanced lips. UGH, gross. It’s one thing to have a little of it in my La Mer, but to chow down on mineral oil (the main ingredient in Aquaphor) all day long? No thank you. What’s really hydrating about Aquaphor is the lanolin alcohols, so why not skip the nasty petrol byproducts and just use pure lanolin (a wool-industry byproduct, but still)? My lip secret is a glob of Hada Labo serum sealed with a dab of semi-occlusive Dr. Lipp nipple balm. No scalpel necessary!

    I’m not even going to get into the masks I use occasionally, because this post is long enough as it is. Ta!

  7. The Funk, AKA How to NOT Wash Your Hair

    It’s always a fun shock to realize that things I think of as universally-understood truths are either not understood or straight-up unknown to most people. For example: washing your hair every day is bad for your hair and scalp. It strips the natural oils from your hair, roughs up the cuticle, and makes hair less pretty-shiny and harder to manage. Not to name-drop, but the above link? Is from WebMD, featuring Nick Arrojo. If that article were a single, it’d be called “Most Legit.” The video would have a cameo by Beyonce, because if we’re talking about hair, somebody has to bring up Beyonce… Anyway, working as I do with the general public, most people who drag me into the hair section of the stores for help are folks who wash every day.

    Most of them pay lip service to the fact that they’ve heard that they’re not supposed to wash everyday (their stylists tell them, and they still don’t listen! It’s galling), but… This is the part where I’m literally cringing here at my keyboard. This is the part where the excuses start rolling in. I don’t know why people feel like they have to justify their every beauty transgression to me during a consultation. I really do not care to make people feel bad. On this blog, sure, I come off as a judgmental bitch, but that’s just me dialing everything up for comedic effect, because gushing over everything like a schoolgirl is frankly pretty boring. But OK, I’ll bite: The part that really bothers me about these women and their excuses is that they won’t even TRY something other than what they’re doing. They know that there’s a better way, they ask me to explain the method in exhaustive detail (UH, and my time is MONEY, y’all), and at the end of the session they tacitly admit that they have no intention of doing better by their hair and ask me which products they should throw at their heads to possibly duplicate the effects (read: you CAN’T!). So yeah, is it any surprise that I’m all:


    when it comes to hair? Over it. However, my readers are not like that. You guys are game for whatever, and I like that. So, as I promised in my previous hair posts, I’m going to outline my method for how to be funk-nasty by only washing your hair once every 5-ish days or so. Ready?


    Dat Purp.

    Let me remind you guys that I have partially-bleached, unnaturally-colored locks. Not washing is imperative for minimizing damage to my already-fried hair and for keeping my color. I know what you’re thinking, “shouldn’t you just use sulphate-free products?” Well, yes, I do that, but sulphate-free shampoos still pull unnatural colors off of the hair. My stylist told me that. She told me not to wash my hair. I respect her as an expert in her chosen field, I pay her money to make me look good, and therefore I listen to her. Crazy, right? FWIW, she’s very impressed with the health and condition of my hair, and says that my hair does not appear damaged AT ALL, despite some crazy lady setting off a 40-volume bomb on my head just a few short months ago. So clearly, my method is working. Let’s start with (rarely) clean hair and work back from there.

    Day Zero: The Washening

    I dislike washing my hair. I really do. Mostly, because it forces me to take a shower, and I hate showers. I’m a bath person. Probably because the old Victorian houses I grew up in did not have showers. I did not have regular access to a shower until I was 13. That, and I spent a little time in Japan, and find their cultural norms of cleanliness and bath-soaking to be The Way to Live. Not that I want to get into any kind of debate over whether baths are “dirty,” but the only area that I find baths fall short is hair washing. So once a week, I be all:


    Step 1, and this should be a given: Rinse. Like, 5 solid minutes of water flowing over the hair to loosen up the treatment products (foreshadowing!). Massage scalp.

    Step 2: Shampoo. Right now I’m using a few different shampoos. I have this Agave brand shampoo that’s sort-of OK, but it makes my hair feel strangely straw-like and stiff in the shower after rinsing out. I’ve never experienced anything like this before and it worries me, I probably will not repurchase this product. The conditioner and oil serum in this brand are nice, though. I use this product as my initial wash, to get the buildup off, concentrating only on the scalp. I do not pull the lather through the lengths of my hair. I usually do my second wash with Phytokeratine shampoo, which I love. That’s why I use the Agave first, to preserve this stuff. Despite also being sulphate-free, it lathers up much better than the Agave. I massage it into the scalp and then tie up my hair and let it sit for a few minutes, so the shampoo can really break down the buildup. Technically, this shampoo does not have any chelating agents to make it technically “clarifying,” I feel I get a clarifying effect by letting it sit on my head for 5 or so minutes. I do not pull the lather through the hair, but obviously, some gets on during rinsing.

    Step 3: Condition. Right now, I’m using the Agave conditioner, and its OK, but I’m almost out. I’m thinking of replacing it with Deva Curl’s One Condition, as I’ve heard good things about it. While I don’t have curly hair, I do have thick, wavy, frizzy hair, so curl products work well for me. Most people condition from the half-lengths down, but my scalp tends to be pretty dry, so I massage the conditioner from roots to tips. Leave on for a couple of minutes, comb through with a wide-tooth comb, then rinse. I honestly don’t worry myself too much with conditioning, because I use so many leave-in products. Some days, I’ll even use some Wen on my lengths instead of conditioner (not on the scalp, and I’ll tell you why later).

    Step 4: Towel dry. Like you do. What I need to be doing, however, is wrapping my hair with an old tee instead of a towel, as this provokes frizz much less. Brace yourself, here comes an excuse: I’m not doing the t-shirt method because I threw out every nonessential bit of clothing when I moved across the country. I’m also too lazy to go out and buy a hair-specific shirt. Pot. Kettle. Black.


    Step 5: Product Pile-on Party! If you’ve been zoning out on this post so far, now is the time to pay attention. I’ve tried about 100 products to find what works for my, ahem, lifestyle. I want moisture, frizz control, volume, and stuff that won’t make my hair gross and in need of washing by the second day. First, I spritz on Ojon protective mist as a light leave-in conditioner and detangler. It smells amazing and makes my hair shiny. Then, I add 5-8 drops of Ojon damage reverse serum to my ends. I’ll comb that through and let it absorb a bit before applying a quarter-sized dab of Living Proof Prime to the whole head and combing that through. This stuff is a game-changer, not in terms of keeping your style (nothing does that for me, my hair is like that one Cabbage Patch doll with the wires in her hair so anything you did to it stayed. I touch my hair too hard, and it’s dented), but in terms of repelling dirt and oil, and keeping your hair *feeling* and actually *being* cleaner longer. Trust.

    From here, I’ll either blow-dry my hair or not. Mostly, I’ll blow out my bangs and roots, then let it air-dry the rest of the way.

    Day One: The Honeymoon

    I don’t really love the way my hair looks on washing day. It’s still a little frizzy (I’m working on that!), as in the above picture of me. My slept-in hair, the next day, however, is shiny and nice and manageable and perfect. Now, if you’re one of those people who washes everyday and you cannot figure out how to go even one day without washing, let alone how to have “perfect” second-day hair, hear this: I was once one of you. For cereal. I washed every day, and had awful, Hermione Granger hair until high school. Conditioning my hair to less washing was hard, because my scalp got so greasy and gross. But! Your scalp is a piece of skin, and just like your facial skin has to get used to a new regimen, so can your scalp eventually adjust to not being washed constantly. It takes at least a month of wearing ponytails and looking sort of gross before your scalp will stop overproducing oil as a reaction to being harshly stripped of moisture every damn day. A little patience goes a long way toward healthier, better looking, more manageable hair.

    Day Two: Going Halfsies

    On this day, my roots are starting to look a little sad and droopy. If you have fine hair, this is probably the day you’ll reach for dry shampoo. In my experience, dry shampoo doesn’t do much, but makes me have to wash my hair again sooner, and I hate that. But again: I have thick hair. Fine gals, please use a powdered dry shampoo or some plain cornstarch. Spray dry shampoos suck and weigh your hair down. This is the day I usually wear my hair half-up, half-down. I’ll usually wet and re-dry my bangs into a better shape. Just because I’m not washing doesn’t mean I’m afraid to get my hair wet.

    Day Three: Ponybuns/Bunnytails

    Full disclosure: If I have somewhere important to be (like work) and my hair looks flat and sad when I wake up (which is often the case), I will either rinse and re-dry my hair on this day. OR I will use a co-wash. I was using Wen, but it left crazy-scary amounts of waxy buildup on my scalp, so I switched to Deva Curl No Poo, and I’m OB-SESSED with it. It gets my funky head WAY cleaner than Wen and it’s a clean that lasts way longer. I can go 6-7 days without washing if I do the No Poo. Score! And It makes my hair really soft.

    If I have nowhere to be on this day, I will do a bunnytail. My hair is now too short to make an attractive ponytail or bun (without a bun donut), so I do this intentionally-messy ponytail/bun thing that is short and stubby like a bunny cottontail. Typically, I pin my semi-greasy-funky bangs back to minimize having to style them again. If my hair does not want to cooperate or smells like unwashed sheets on this day, I will spritz my roots with Bumble & Bumble Tonic* (the tea tree oil kills smelly bacteria) and add a little Phyto7 to my ends so everything looks polished and the texture of my hair is more cohesive.

    * Now is probably a good time to mention that I go to they gym about 5 days a week, and I do get pretty sweaty. It’s not a problem with my hair if I pull it back, but for some people, you may want to keep a bottle of Tonic in your gym bag. It’s a miracle that will save you from having to wash every day because you’re active.

    Day Four/Five: Bardot-Day


    Women who don’t wash all have this one very special day in The Funk rotation. A day when your hair is so unwashed, funk-nasty and yet you wake up one morning and it’s perfect again. Day one hair deja-vu, for no discernible reason. It comes at different times for us all. For some ladies it’s day 3, for some it’s day 6 or 7. For most, it’s day 4 or 5. If you can make it 4 days without washing your hair, you will be rewarded with wierdly curly, sexy, shiny, bouncy, mussed-up Brigitte Bardot hair. Who doesn’t want that?! To make the most of this unexplained miracle, I will use a little bit of dry texturizing spray on my roots, -this part is key!- applied sparingly *in short blasts* and tease that shit out like a Texas pageant girl. If you ever see me out with a fab 60s ‘do that does not move, know that you’re witnessing the miracle of The Funk.

    Day Five/Six: Intervention

    There is usually no disguising how gross my hair is around this time. My scalp is also usually a little itchy and uncomfortable. I may actually use dry shampoo to get me through this day, but I usually don’t since that will make the itching much worse. I’ve broken down and washed halfway through the day because of dry shampoo. For styling on this day, I’ll do the sweatpants of hairstyles- a for-real-real bun with a scarf tied around my head.

    Later on in the evening, I’ll prep my hair for tomorrow’s wash by using my scalp elixir and deep conditioning mask on my ends. This is key to washing while on the Funk program. If your hair has been marinating in your own natural oils for 5-6 days, them you suddenly strip it all off in the wash, Day Zero is gonna look a whole lot uglier. Like, cotton candy hair, for real. So I baste my hair in follicle-clearing oils, wrap it up in a scarf and sleep on it.

    So, now that you literally know my dirty secret, are you guys willing to try to live Funkfully? The benefits are many: less time washing/styling hair, arguably using less products, saving water, healthier, shinier locks.

  8. Stumped in Stumptown!

    You know, being that I’ve spent the past, like, 3 years having back-to-back-to-back skincare consultations with people for 8 hours a day, it’s really hard to stump me. I feel like I’ve heard everything. I once had to explain to a woman that she should not be putting Clorox bleach on her face. You guys, it was amazing- she was using undiluted (not that it really makes a difference) bleach on pimples as a spot treatment. And then there’s the horrifying popularity of what I’ve come to call the Twin Evils, a two-headed beast of wrongfulness that no mortal weapon can vanquish: the “wash with rubbing alcohol, moisturize with $1.99 “cocoa butter” body lotion” regimen, and her uglier (though arguably more posh) sister, the “wash with Dial/Dove bar soap, moisturize with NOTHING” non-regimen. The places that people will put hemorrhoid cream and vaseline, you guys… *shudder*.


    Cocoa butter and alcohol: a time-tested recipe for ratchet-ass skin!

    Which is not to say I’m horrified by my latest query. Not at all, it’s just that it presents a really challenging framework in which to operate: laziness. No really, I’m not giving my friend a hard time. It’s something we’re all guilty of in some area of our lives (for me, it’s laundry. Haaaaaaaaaaaate).Laziness is a reality, like gravity. You can work around it, or you can try to defy it and watch it thoroughly fuck your shit up. Read on:

    “Here’s my dilemma - after pretty much three straight years of working from home/not working/working in a place where I saw practically nobody/back to working from home, I’ve lost all sense of a skin cleaning routine. My skin has always been “fairly ok” without much effort at all, and I’m now putting in pretty much zero effort. But I’m 31 1/2, and that’s not going to fly for much longer (or probably doesn’t really fly at this point but Corgis don’t judge). Right now I basically just splash water on my face at night, and clean every couple of days with whatever I’ve picked up from Target - normally face wipes, right now it’s a Neutrogena Acne Wash w/ Anti-Redness (I’ve got redness around my nose that’s probably my biggest personal skin issue). That always feels way too drying when I’m done, but my boyfriend took my moisturizer and his bathroom is too far to walk…really, can’t underline enough how lazy I am about this. Otherwise, my skin is normally fairly middling, with some glasses greasiness around the nose.

    I’m looking for something that basically fits the 80/20 rule, and bonus points if it looks/smells really nice as then I’d be more likely to use it. Extra extra bonus points for not being like $100 for each thing as I will most likely fall off the wagon two weeks in - in which case my boyfriend will steal those products and have a great face.”


    This corgi is winking because he thinks you’re one sexy broad. Don’t change, Debonair Corgi Prince.

    Bless the Corgis. For their love is long on loyalty though short on legs.

    I feel you on the working from home biz. That’s me to some degree right now, and it’s most assuredly an adjustment. I’m finding myself going, “meh” and leaving the house in sweatpants and with unbrushed hair way more often than I’m comfortable with. I’ll catch myself in the mirror on the way out, wiping the errant toothpaste from the corner of my mouth and wince, “who is this person?! WTF is wrong with you?”

    Anyway, the reason your dilemma is so hard for me to address is that your ideal routine hinges on a lack of consistency. It’s like people who diet hardcore during the week and gorge themselves on weekends: it doesn’t entirely work. This is something I tell people at work, gazing into their wide, receptive, pleading eyes as they beg me to explain the 100% best thing- “anything, any 20-step routine, whatever it is, tell me the secret of what to dooooo!” I tell them all the same thing, “the best skincare routine is the one you can stick to.” Seriously. Whatever fits into your lifestyle that you can remember to do consistently twice a day every day is the regimen for you. If you can’t manage twice-a-week peels, intermittent overnight masks, alternating neuropeptide serums with regular serums, that’s fine. You’re not going to degrade into a wizened crone *that much* faster than someone with a more robust daily ritual, so long as you have a decent lifestyle. Clearly, you’re aware, unlike a lot of hopeless consumer romantics, that having the products in your home isn’t going to do anything. You have to use them. But I’m here to level with you that 80/20 won’t pass muster no matter what you’re using. I mean, better products are still better, but nothing in this world beats consistency.


    Beauty sleep is a real thing, my babies.

    It’s hard! I know! I’ve said a lot of things on this blog, but I never said developing a routine is easy. Perhaps I can entice you into changing your ways with a slightly different (non-vanity) flavor of logic. Two words: sleep hygiene. My therapist told me about it years and years ago. Like so many modern people, I was depressed and anxious and had a hard time sleeping. Establishing a relaxing, nightly routine with my skincare (and drinking hot tea, and reading before bed) has yielded the benefit of better skin and better sleep. And less depression and anxiety. And better work habits. Basically, the more structure you can fold into a freelance lifestyle, the less likely you are to fall into the shame-spiral of doubt that plagues the non-traditionally-employed. Between my skin stuff and my regular yoga schedule (I program that ish into my calendar), “What am I doing with my LIFE?!” is no longer a daily refrain, but an amusing aside reserved for expressing disappointment with the fact that I did not invent amazing things like this noodle-face-hair-shield thing.


    Because genius, that’s why.

    On to products!

    Basically, your cleanser should never make your face feel dry and irritated. Ever. If it does, then that is a sign you should be using something else. Also, acne wash? Do you have acne? If you have whole areas of your face that are more broken out than not the majority of the time, then you have acne. If you get the occasional pimple or even a handful of them some of the time, but not all of the time, then you do NOT. have acne. You cannot use an acne wash to stave off the arrival of an occasional pimple. I’ll say it again: YOU CANNOT USE ACNE PRODUCTS TO FEND OFF ACNE THAT ISN’T THERE. It doesn’t work that way. You’re better off buying a gentle wash that suits your skin type, using it (and a moisturizer) daily, and buying a spot treatment to dab on the occasional breakout.


    Your face is about to be as soft as this baby Corgi’s fluffy butt.

    You are redness prone and dry with occasional blemishes (pretty much my skin type as well, joy!). A good cleanser for you is Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($39). Some people love the faint cucumber-y smell. I was not much a fan of the smell, but I learned to love it because the cleanser is just so good. It removes makeup, cleans effectively, does not overdry, and the soy amino acids in the cleanser make your skin so crazy soft. I really, truly love the stuff, and will probably go back to it as soon as I’m done with the First Aid Beauty cleanser I’m using. FWIW: the price is really not that bad, considering it lasted me twice as long as the FAB is lasting me now. Sayin’!


    If you touch my products, I swear to god I will fucking GO AFTER YOU.

    As for moisturizer: you need to have a talk with your man, because beauty product thievin’ is a straight-up slap-in-the-face offense. Or, at least a really-sustained-dirty-look offense (I do not condone intimate partner violence). The best course of action, though, is probably to buy him one of whatever you get yourself, cleanser included. Affordable options for normal-to-dry redness-prone skin include: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($12-$28, depending on size), Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour Brightening Cream ($32), Korres Greek Yoghurt Face Cream ($32, but the Rose on smells better and is more girly), Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation ($45). If you’re concerned with anti-aging and want something that will multitask, splurge on the Ole Henriksen one, OR splurge on the best of the best: Perricone Face Finishing Moisturizer ($69). It’s the #1 moisturizer at Sephora for years running. It firms, evens out skintone, calms inflammation, brightens, gives the skin a glow, absorbs completely, it smells like roses, and the jar lasts forever. I <3 this stuff.


    Bonus points: (because when do I not ask you to do more?)

    To avoid glasses grease on the nose, dab a little antiperspirant there. It’s amazing. Keeps my glasses from sliding down my face. I almost never remember to do it, though, wah-waaaahhhh!

    Once you’ve established a routine with the wash and moisturizer (wash at night and moisturize. In the morning, rinse with water and re-apply moisturizer). Add an eye cream and daily sunscreen. Maybe down the line add a toner to keep your pores clear.

    Hope this helps!!

  9. Hey! Here’s a video of a lady in a Turbie Twist demo-ing a proper technique for applying serums and moisturizers! This is the Clarins massage technique, which is good for absorption and promotes lymphatic drainage in the skin (read: depuffs your face). The Clarins method uses way more product that I like to use, but you can trim it down by using half what she uses and using only the pads of the fingers to emulsify and distribute product. You’ll find, by using proper application protocol, that you’ll have less clogged pores and better performance from your skincare products.


    Or, rather, *I* should be saying “thank you” to this nice lady who made the video. You’ll probably never catch me making any videos, because I have the most annoying speaking voice EVER.

  10. Gross-acea


    This is what my skin looked like a few short years ago.

    Being that I am a professional skincare guru working with the general public, I meet people every day who have Rosacea. I have a touch of it myself, though you’d never know it to look at me. When I tell my clients that I have it, too, they usually look shocked and assume I’m lying. Well, I’m not, and I’m about to elucidate as to why I have nary a whisper of ruddiness to my complexion, and the solution will probably surprise you. But first, let’s get a few basic facts about Rosacea out of the way:

    It’s incurable, though manageable.

    It’s genetic. If someone in your family has been diagnosed, and you have similar symptoms, you totes have it*. Go ahead and save yourself the trip to the dermatologist. They’ll only prescribe you CeraVe, Cetaphil, and maybe some Metrogel and send you on your merry way.

    There is a connection between Rosacea and autoimmune diseases like Celiac, Crohn’s, Endometriosis, Grave’s, Hashimoto’s, Meneire’s, and so on. If you have an autoimmune condition and Rosacea-like symptoms, you totes have it*.

    The sooner you begin treating it, the better. Rosacea is progressive. Ask Bill Clinton.

    There are things that can “trigger” Rosacea such as: cold weather, hot weather, wind, exercise, alcohol, spicy food, stress, improper diet, caffeine. These vary from person to person.

    * By “totes,” I mean “more than likely.” In the interest of keeping your healthcare costs down (because America is a dystopian nightmare state where most people cannot afford basic medical care), it’s worthwhile to adopt a skincare treatment program for Rosacea for a while. If that does not greatly help your skin problem, then go to a derm. There really is little risk involved in treating your skin as if it were Rosacea skin through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter products. You really can’t hurt anything or make anything worse. Even people without Rosacea can benefit from not piling their skin up with harsh products. But, you know, good luck telling that to the millions of adults out there who use acne products for teenagers because, “I don’t want to break out.” Uhhh, it doesn’t work that way.


    Now, with the commonly-known stuff out of the way, let’s move on to some uncommon knowledge:

    Rosacea is, in large part, caused by anus-less mites fucking and laying eggs all up in your face, proliferating out of control, then exploding in a spectacular cloud of pent-up feces, to their deaths. These crawling, burrowing, breeding mites themselves do not necessarily cause Rosacea, but the bacteria in their feces does.


    I found out about this about 2 years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to my skin. I ran out and immediately bought a Clarisonic Mia. I have faithfully used it every night since. However, do keep in mind that Rosacea skin is still really sensitive and you have to treat it as such. I know the image of randy, poop-filled bugs colonizing your face like Doozers makes you want to dunk your head in bleach and then set it on fire, but slow your roll a little bit. I use one of the softest brush heads they make, the Acne head, because it has twice the bristles and deep-cleans without the irritation I was getting with the Sensitive brush head (this is the head that comes on every Clarisonic model, unless specifically stated otherwise on the packaging). Apparently, Clarisonic has a new crop of super-soft brush heads called the Luxe Collection. I have not yet had the privilege to try one of these, but as soon as I do, I will promptly report on it. I feel the need to disclose that I DO NOT WORK FOR CLARISONIC. I am but a humble superfan who gets no free swag from the company :(

    Anyway, there you have it. My secret to redness-free skin is thorough, gentle, deep cleaning every single night. I do not use antibacterial, anti-acne or salicylic acid-based cleansers and I do not recommend them for Rosacea skin. Hydrating glycolic acid cleansers are OK, but can be drying.

    Redness-prone skin is typically dry skin. If you think you have Rosacea but are still oily, it’s probably because your skin is being stripped by a too-harsh cleanser, you’re cleansing too much, or you’re not moisturizing adequately. All of which can cause oil overproduction in the skin. Cleanse only once a day (at night! Rinse in the morning!), use something pure and gentle, do not use scrubs or buffs, do not use makeup remover wipes EVER (I literally do not care what brand, they are all evil), do not use an alcohol-based toner (I’m looking at you, Clinique!!), and get a pure, gentle, high-quality moisturizer.

    *PAUSE* Real talk in the form of taking a big old bug shit all over a specific brand: Listen, if your skin is sensitive or redness prone, the Clinique 3-step system is not for you. It just isn’t, OK?! Stop it. Only the most oily people with the least problems with their skin can use that stuff. *UNPAUSE*

    What do I mean by “pure?” Look for products that do not contain synthetic dyes, fragrance of any kind (whether it be natural or synthetic), mineral oil or any petroleum byproduct (guilty brands include Shiseido, Clinique, and La Mer), parabens, high concentrations of filler ingredients like silicones or dimethicone, pthalates, high concentrations of sodium laureth sulfate, essential oils like tea tree should be used extremely sparingly and be heavily diluted. How do can you tell how much of something is in your products? The first 5 ingredients make up like, 90% of the product. The first 10 about 98%. If you don’t think you can be trusted to read and understand a label, then use this shorthand: If it is from the drugstore (I give exactly ZERO shits if it’s one of those fake “natural” brands like Burt’s Bees or Yes to Carrots), it is not for you. Anything that can be mass-produced on a national and international level at such a low cost is likely brimming with cheap, filler ingredients that suck for your skin. Sad but true.

    Instead, support smaller, more “natural” brands that are sold by retailers that have higher vetting standards for purity and what it means to be “natural.” This is why I love buying my skincare from Sephora. They give a shit. Walgreens, OTOH, does not. Labels like “hypoallergenic” and “natural” actually mean something at Sephora, and they can tell you what it takes for a brand or product to qualify. If a brand starts slipping, too, Sephora will revoke prized status right quick.

    Brands that qualify as “natural” via Sephora (Disclaimer, this is what I was told as an employee during my tenure, if this is wrong, it’s not necessarily on me. If this has changed, I am not up on all the new information being that I no longer work for Sephora):

    Ole Henriksen, Boscia, Caudalie, Josie Maran (organic, to boot), Tarte, Ren, Nude (also organic), and Korres (big ups to Korres for FAR exceeding Sephora’s requirements for naturalness in a brand. My old boss visited their factory and explained the degree to which they go above and beyond over there in Greece).

    Brands that (surprisingly!) DO NOT (not even one, tiny, little bit!) qualify as natural (though some of their products are good for Rosacea or sensitive skin. I only make the distinction between “natural” and not, because one needs to know what the F they’re talking about if they’re going to talk at all):

    Fresh, Philosophy, Origins, Clinique.

    Brands that qualify as “clean” via me:

    Ren, Boscia, and Perricone.

    What does “clean” mean to me? It means these brands produce their products in pharmaceutical-grade conditions. Hazmat suits, clean rooms, the whole 9. This is important when your skin is terribly reactive.

    If you were to get a gentle/sensitive/dry skin wash  and moisturizer from any of the brands I’ve listed as legit, you’ll probably have an alright time with getting your skin to chill out. I can’t always say from all the brands out there. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and frankly, I do not have time to vet every single product by every single brand. I don’t get paid to blog, and I don’t get products to test for free. I understand the basics of skin physiology and I understand ingredients enough to know whether a product will work with different skin conditions, so if you’re curious if what you’re using is OK, drop me a line and I’ll do some investigating.

    I’m also going to do a follow-up post on Rosacea treatment creams and cleansers. Getting Specific, Naming Names. This post was a general primer for something meatier.

    I’m sorry to all the brands that got shit-talked in the making of this post. I’m going to end this now, before I have to squeeze yet another tedious disclaimer into this post.