Monday, August 6, 2007

20 years.


I don't know if it's the idea of fall approaching, but this week I find myself going back to what initially got me interested in cosmetics in 1987. There's a certain vibe for Autumn that is somehow the ideal blend of sadness and optimism, newness and death, starting over and cycles of life.

Back in 1987, I was about halfway through 7th grade when my Mom announced that she was going to take this great job in Columbus. We lived in Avon Lake and had for a couple of years at that time. I think that my parents have never felt very comfortable with staying put anywhere. We'd moved from Lakewood only 2 years prior and my sis and I had already been uprooted from our schools and friends. But this time was different. This time I understood that being a new girl meant several things: all of them good. I got to be anybody I wanted to be. I got to burn any bridges I damn well wanted to at my current school. I got to have the possibility of a better social life. The promise was there, the future was open wide. My Mom started her job for the last month of school and I started letting people know that nothing I did in Avon Lake mattered anymore since I was moving. For example: Cheerleading tryouts/rejection....didn't they know that I didn't really care about making the squad? I was only doing it for fun.

Our house was on the market and we were mere weeks from a relocation. My Mom had been commuting back on weekends. After doing the job for a few months though, the hours were wearing thin. She quit the new job. That happened during the summer break. We were building a house outside of Columbus. I was already planning my back-to-school wardrobe. It was going to be so different at the new school.

Now, not only did I have to stay in Avon Lake, but I had to stay dispite telling everyone otherwise. They'd already signed my yearbook "It was great knowing you. Good luck in Columbus!". Plus, we'd already sold our house. Now I had to stay in the same city without the same house. If you're going to have to deal with going to the same school, you should really have the perk of staying in your own house, especially since it was a cool house. It was one of the only things buoying me in social circles, even with the not-very-popular crowd. Now, no more pool. Indoor. Outdoor. Nada.

The feeling of 'how will I go back being the same person I've always been' occured to me. Could this be an opportunity to be a "new girl" at my own old school? That was my fantasy.

It turned out that the only house we could get wouldn't be ready to be moved into until 6 weeks after the school year started. That meant well into October. Instead we were able to stay at my Grandparents' cottage on Lake Erie, about 10 minutes from the Jr. High. Convenient enough, but the problem was that it was definitely just a cottage. Thin walls that you can feel the wind whipping through, no heat, one bathroom. It gets cold on Lake Erie by the end of August, let alone mid-October. High gusts of wind would hit you everytime you walked out the door and being inside barely helped.

I can remember counting the number of blankets and quilts I had on me. Ten layers thick to even attempt to keep warm and I still had to sleep with my head under the covers. That September I got an issue of Vogue magazine. September Vogue is like an encylopedia: size and contentwise both. It's no less than 600 pages of glossy ads (and some fashion spreads tucked in towards the last 75 pages.) I preferred the ads. I had every perfume sample and lipstick ad memorized since I kept the issue with me in the cold bed, under the covers. Instead of dirty magazines, I had Vogue. Not being an especially rich, thin, or stylish kid didn't stop me from drooling over the lifestyle the magazine showed me. Plus, I felt like it spoke to me like no teenybopper magazine ever had. Kirk Cameron hanging on my walls? No, I wanted a spread of Animale perfume. I was inspired.

My first stop: The super amazing bright coral lipstick shown on a model from a cosmetics ad. I went to the Estee Lauder counter at May Company at Midway Mall. I found the brightest coral lipstick they had and purchased it. I wasn't sure of exactly how I could pull it off and what I would wear it with, but I needed it. When I got home and excitedly showed my sister, her response was "How are you going to wear that??! It's so bright!?" She was right, but I knew she didn't get what i was going for. High fashion. Runway. Couture in Lorain County. My 4'10 ass was at least going to try. I showed her how I could blot it on really sheer and it was kinda pretty. "Yeah. Well, what about if you actually wear it all the way?!" She saw through my thinly veiled attempt at softening a color that I wouldn't ever wear. And though she was, for all purposes, correct- I now think of that tube of absurdly orange lipstick on a 12 or 13 year old and can remember why I do what I do to this day.

That issue of Vogue will come out in the next week or so: 20 years later. I can't believe it's been 20 years of honing my lipstick skills. 20 years since I stored the issue under my 10 layers of covers. 20 years later and I'm doing what I didn't know at the time I've always wanted to do. Take my interpretation of beauty and show others how its not trite and frivilous: It's newness and death, sadness and optimism, but really it's a cycle of life and a way to start over anytime you want to: To be the 'new girl', when you're definitely not.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My new obsession

I've been an All about eyes (Clinique) fan for about a decade and now they have "All about eyes rich". It is the answer to all of my eye whoa's. Dry? Moisture comes quickly with this cream. Need to apply a concealer to hide dark circles? The finish of the cream is silky, absorbed immediately and leaves the skin looking more taught; hence, no settling into the lines with that concealer (as you've heard this battle cry before from me already!). I don't get how a cream so rich absorbs so instantly. Magic is the only explanation. Do yourself a favor and go and get this. I don't know or care if it's anti-aging in the true sense. I'll leave that to my serums.

Monday, February 19, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things.

I'm a listy girl. But if I had to make a list of my favorite products, that would be the best list ever. And I might have to refer to it to make me giddy. Sick and wrong, perhaps...but nonetheless, I embrace this. Here goes....the best of the best products on earth (according to me, me, me):

1. Tarte cheekstain- Hands down favorite product. Tickled is my favorite color, but also love tipsy and cloud 9. It perks up my paleness or brings out a tan. It gives me a subtle glow without the chalky powdery blush look. It stays on ALL day. I make people feel its lightly dewy texture 8 hours after I apply it. It, simply put, rocks.

2. Clinique All about eyes- I've been obsessed with this eye cream for a decade. Most people don't really get what's so great about let me enlighten: It's texture dries down to a light powdery finish. Hello? Underneath concealer! Smooths and sets the product!! Without it, crepiness prevails. With it, all day smooth and bright eyes. For nighttime you need something more emollient, but for daytime...perfecto.

3. Origins Ginger Souffle- Something about this smell and texture is heads above other creams and lotions. Faintly citrusy, juicyily gingery, and whipped to perfection, this body cream leaves the skin glowing and smelling amazing. Since I haven't worked for them for years, I haven't been using it. However Sephora just did a mock up product called Ginger Lime or something and I bought the body wash....almost the same and has an outstanding smell.

4. LORAC cream eyeliner palette #1- I've somehow managed to keep my palette for years, though its been used to death. There are 8 shades of solid eyeliner and a double ended brush to use for application. If you use the broader side of the brush, no water needed for a soft smokey look; can even be used as a cream eyeshadow. When using the finer point of the brush, just a drop of water will make this eyeliner glide on seamlessly all day. The colors in palette #1 are really versatile: black, dark brown, charcoal, gold, etc. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued, but surely there are still options (ebay?) to find it. If not, Smashbox made one...this isn't the same texture (no need for water and definitely don't use as a cream eyeshadow). Otherwise, a good alternative.

5. Tarte Smooth Operator Foundation- I've either been a no foundation girl or a powder foundation girl until I discovered this. First of all, the texture is so easily absorbed into the skin that is just feels like a moisturizer (oil-free). Secondly, it doesn't break me out, which is more than any other liquid can say. And lastly, the coverage is more than any other tinted moisturizer. I thought maybe I was just a tinted moisturizer girl after I found this, but after trying 7 others (DuWop, Hard Candy, Alison Raffaele, Benefit, Prescriptives, Estee Lauder, and Stila) I can say that I'm a Smooth Operator girl through and through. Don't get me wrong: The other brands have their merits too: DuWop's is very moisturizing and illuminating, but gives little to no coverage, Hard Candy has a fantastic smell but also gave no coverage, Alison's has great coverage...more than Tarte's, but isn't moisturizing enough for my skin. Benefit has no color options and is much too fake looking on my skin. Prescriptives has no moisture. Estee Lauder should stick to what it does well: lipsticks, advanced skincare, fragrances for your Mom and Grandmother, and full coverage foundations...not sheer. And Stila's has oil in it, which broke me out. There has been a lot of research into this love!

I'll continue with another 5 soon!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Letting Go

Bad beauty habits are like being in an abusive relationship. You know it's wrong, but you insist that it's just a phase; that it'll all come together in time. You defend it because you need it to feel like yourself.

You've seen it: The middle aged woman with 12 coats of mascara clumping her lashes, the teenager in heavy black eyeliner, or a lady with crispy hair that recalls a High School student from the 1980's (because that's when she obviously got out of High School).

I've had my share of bad beauty habits that I wouldn't discontinue. The one that stands is powdering the opaque concealer underneath my eyes.

I have dark circles. Not the kind that everybody thinks they have: Like, DARK. This requires concealer.

Everybody always thinks that they have the right concealer to erase my circles. What I've found over the years is that it looks better if they show a little. To conceal them completely means a heavy, probably cream concealer in an orangey shade under the eyes, followed by a powder foundation. They will look invisible. But what you have in it's place is a chalky collection of eye wrinkles complimenting the now pasty undereye area.

It was a slow transition and there have been days when I backslid to pull off red lips. Or maybe I've been in bad lighting selling makeup all day, adding more as the day wears on.

The new routine has mostly stuck, but I really had to trick myself. I had to tell myself 'I'll go back tomorrow. Just try it for a day.' Like a good friend coaxing me away from the alcoholic boyfriend. However, it's harder to break than most bad habits or addicitons: We are our only advocate and we're also the addict.

That's where I think we can change things. I rally those in the beauty world to soften their language when approaching a customer who is stuck in one of these ruts. Treat them like you would the Mother of three with a black eye. Talk them down slowly, give them options, show that you will be there. Instead of "Oh honey, this mascara is a big ol mess!" instead try "I see you like a defined lash. Would you like me to show you one that builds beautifully and you only need 2 coats to have a beautifully lush (use words they need to hear) lash?"

If someone had approached me 10 years ago saying "I can see that you've got a lot of darkness in your undereye area. Let me show you a trick that will have everybody thinking you aren't wearing anything to cover it up." Instead I heard a lot of "What you need to use to get rid of darkness is a creamy yellow!" Then it would turn grey. "What you need to use to get rid of the dark circles is this pink concealer!" Then it would crease. Then they would powder it. Then it would still crease. I would say "I've tried them all!" "Yellow doesn't work for me!" "Creamy concealers crease up right away on me!" "Actually pink doesn't make it any better. I'll still need to set it if it's a full coverage concealer." Nobody would listen to me. Finally I have talked myself into a sheer coverage concealer. It plays the area down and I don't have to set it with anything, thus, drawing more attention to the area.

The next time someone comes up to you with foundation 3 shades too dark (or light), remember this and give her the sweet talkdown and realize that maybe she HAS (probably not) tried tons of foundations and this is the only one that covers her brown spots (again, doubtful). But hey, it's worth a try. Even if it does end up taking the better part of a decade to get her in the right products.