Monday, February 22, 2010


*Too Much Makeup Information

My search for a simple, natural-looking makeup regimen had to be put on hold for a bit while I was sick. I wanted to make sure that I was completely better first, because I look fairly awful when I'm sick, so buying makeup to match my I-just-threw-up-from-the-flu skin tone seemed counterproductive. Once my skin had resumed its healthy glow, I was off to Sephora for a consultation.

By the way, "healthy glow" is a bit of a relative term with me. I've never actually known what my skin color was, professionally speaking. Apparently light skin, fair skin, ivory skin, and pale skin are all different things (!) and I had no idea which of those applied to me. The term that I usually used to describe my skin was "night-of-the-living-dead pale," but they don't sell makeup in that color. I don't know much about marketing, but I do know that "Fair" will sell better than "Zombie." I used to wear a little blush just to avoid looking like I was on death's door.

My skin has gotten a bit better in recent years, but in my early twenties, if I needed to leave work early, I would just skip the blush; my coworkers would express concern about my health all day before suggesting that perhaps I should go home and rest. Definitely unflattering, probably unethical, but undeniably useful. But I digress. The experts at Sephora tell me that my skin is "light, with slight pink undertones." I think that they imagined up the slight pink undertone bit just to make me feel better, but whatever. I have very light skin.

My goal was to put together a makeup regimen that was easy to do, looked very natural and understated, but left me looking slightly less exhausted than I actually am. Undereye circles look fairly dramatic when you have the coloring of a ghost. Also, I need something with an SPF. As you can probably predict, given the light skin, there's a lot of skin cancer in my family, so I really truly need to be wearing sunscreen every single day. (When S and I got married, he told me that he was doing me a favor by marrying me, because he was strengthening my gene pool by adding some much-needed melanin.) In fact, my daily use of an SPF moisturizer was a lot of why I hated makeup -- I could do a decent job of applying makeup to go out at night, but in the morning, once I'd put on moisturizer, I could never get the makeup to look right. The nice folks at Sephora demonstrated for me that my problems were because I was using a cheap-ass moisturizer. I kind of always assumed that it didn't matter, but you know what? It does. I bought expensive moisturizer, and I've day-by-day compared it to my old stuff. The new stuff disappears into my skin in a way that the old stuff never did. Which is good, lesson learned, but now I need to buy expensive moisturizer for the rest of my life.

Anyway, here is my new morning face routine:

1. Moisturizer with SPF. Because cancer is bad.
2. Concealer under my eyes. To make me look like I'm well-rested, without the trouble of actually getting more sleep.
3. Very very light mineral powder foundation. Because I have almost no confidence in my ability to do a good job with the concealer, so an overcoat of powder evens things out.
4. Blush. So that people will quit asking me if I'm feeling okay. I use very very little, just enough to stop the comparisons to Casper the Ghost.
5. Mascara. To further disguise the under-eye circles. I didn't really understand how this worked, even though the woman at Sephora droned on a bit about mascara making my eyes look wider, which minimizes the appearance of the circles. Finally she just put mascara on one eye but not the other, and then handed me a mirror. The difference was dramatic. One of my eyes looked awake!
6. Lipstick. In a color that more or less matches the natural color of my lips. I'm not entirely sure what this does for me, and I predict it will be the first thing that I drop from the regimen, in favor of chapstick.

All that time spent with experts at Sephora, and I ended up with the exact regimen that K recommended in comments. Thanks to all of you people that recommended the trip to Sephora so that stuff actually matches my face! Oh, and the reason that I ignored all the suggestions to combine steps and use a tinted moisturizer: I don't trust myself to put it on evenly. It seems too advanced for me. Maybe I'm totally deluding myself, but the powder seems more forgiving. Maybe once I've built up some skills, I'll give it a try.

Total purchases: moisturizer, concealer, powder, blush, lipstick, and two brushes (for the powder and blush). I didn't buy mascara because I didn't like the one that Sephora recommended and I didn't have time to stay and try a different one. I'm currently using a little sample one that I hate, so I should really buy something else to try. The current stuff flakes easily and bothers my contacts. Recommendations? Since I was starting from scratch and had to buy everything all at once, I spent way too much money, but I justified it because (a) this stuff should all last me a while; and (b) my total makeup expenses for the last ten years has been somewhere around $20, so I think that I'm due. Also, ten-year-old makeup is kind of a health hazard.

Last question: cleanser? I laughed hard when Sunny commented about her clueless friend who used Dove body wash to wash her face. Because, um, I have Dove body wash. But it's cucumber scented, and I've seen women in movies getting facials that involve cucumber slices, so surely I'm doing okay?!? I found an old, old bottle of Oil of Olay facial cleanser under my sink, so I've been using that, but it's probably way past its expiration date, so... suggestions?

S has always been anti-makeup. He very much prefers the natural look, and tends to make fun of me when I put on makeup, even if it's for a formal occasion. So he was a bit anxious when I told him that I was going to start a daily makeup regimen. He admits, though, that the above regimen isn't too bad. He claims that it doesn't look "natural" only because the powder makes my skin tone look too even, like it's been airbrushed, and nobody has skin that perfect. Which I guess is a compliment? He can't tell that I'm wearing blush or mascara or lipstick, so that's good. He stumbled over his words for a bit ("It's nice! It makes you look older. Not old, just older. Not in a bad way. Maybe more mature? But not like you're old. Just... like you're not a teenager anymore. Which is a good thing. Right?") before finally just saying that now when we're together, everyone will assume that I'm getting tons of sleep while he does all the work, because why else would HE still have dark circles under his eyes but I don't?

I've timed myself a few times, and the whole thing takes six minutes to apply. I'll probably get faster at it with more practice, but even six minutes isn't too bad. I can spare six minutes each day. It's definitely less time than achieving the same result by actually being well-rested, which would take several hours out of my day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ugh. Between LL, S, and me, somebody in our house has been sick more or less continuously since mid-November. Last week was the stomach flu, which hit all three of us at the same time. LL was the only one of us who had gotten a flu shot this year, which is probably why his only lasted ~36 hours. S was intensely sick for four days. I was never quite as sick as S, but my symptoms lasted an entire week. (That's pretty typical for us -- S usually gets sick with amazing ferocity, and then recovers quickly, while I get a milder version of everything, but then I'm sick for twice as long.) The fact that all three of us were sick at the exact same time, though, was particularly bad. We finally declared the entire household "well" on Saturday, and we had a wonderful illness-free weekend.

LL started sniffling a bit Sunday night, but we stayed in denial about it until Monday afternoon, when we all finally had to admit that yes, LL has a head cold. Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, cough. Fairly typical stuff.

At least, it seemed typical until last night, when he started wheezing and having trouble catching his breath. We spent all last night at the urgent care clinic. The wheezing would get better only to get worse again. The doctor thought it was probably just a little upper respiratory irritation, except that LL's oxygen levels were low, so they ran some additional tests and waddya know: lower respiratory infection, coupled with croup. And we're actually lucky (yes, lucky) that he was wheezing from the infection, because then we were able to catch the croup fairly early, before it got too bad.

They were able to get him breathing normally last night, finally, and we now have medicine at home to help his lungs to calm down and heal. He's in a great mood, even though his breathing is still fairly labored, his congestion is keeping him from sleeping, and his fever is stubbornly sticking around. He's running and dancing all over the house, and doesn't quite understand why we won't let him go to daycare and play with the other kids. And between sick days for me and sick days for taking care of LL, my thesis is kinda at a standstill.

At some point we'll all be healthy again, right?!?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Feet

Confession time: I'm a dork. That's probably not a surprise, actually. But seriously, I'm like the least fashionable person I know. I kept my nose in books through those teenage years where I was supposed to learn about shoes and makeup and fashion and whatnot, so it just sort of never happened. And honestly, it never really affected me all that much, because I don't think about it very often. But recently I've been forced to think about shoes, in particular, and I'm attempting to make a change.

I've worn nothing except sneakers, loafers, and flat sandals since high school. (I did own the occasional pair of dress heels, for use with skirts and dresses, but I hate them and I very cleverly avoid wearing them by wearing skirts as infrequently as humanly possible.) I had a small, monotonous (and very very old) collection of loafers and sandals that I made do with for everyday wear, a single pair of sneakers, and I was good to go. Then I got pregnant. And my feet swelled. A lot. I quickly went up an entire shoe size, and none of my shoes fit. So I did what any cost-conscious-but-fashion-blind pregnant woman would do: I bought one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals in the bigger size, and I wore them for my entire pregnancy.

Then LL was born, and I patiently waited for my feet to return to normal. Instead, they shrank ever so slightly but remained a good half size bigger than they were pre-pregnancy. I still couldn't fit into any of my old shoes. I gave it a good year to see if they'd shrink back, and then I donated all of my pre-pregnancy shoes to charity. The only shoes I kept were two pairs of sandals that still kind of work, the pregnancy sneakers, one pair of black loafers with a broken heel that I've kept for reasons beyond understanding, and the shoes that I wore at my wedding. But the only ones that are actually of any use right now on a daily basis are the sneakers. So... I've been wearing those sneakers every single day. Every single day. For more than a year. (Actually, I wore the loafers with the broken heel on several job interviews, because, you know, job interview and sneakers don't mix. But walking sucked, and it was horribly uncomfortable.)

We've been having torrential storms lately, which have brought something to my attention: there are numerous holes in those sneakers. That's right: not just one hole, but many many holes in each shoe. And yet I'm still wearing them. I told you that I'm a dork.

Anyway, I decided that here in my mid-30s, it was time to start acting like a grown-up woman. (Soon Dr. Grown-Up Woman, thank-you-very-much.) I called up my most fashionable but understanding friend and begged her to teach me about shoes. She took me shopping on Saturday, and I am now the proud owner of brown leather slip-on wedges. I have black ones, too. And a pair of black pumps that don't make me cry when I wear them, so maybe I'll agree to go on a fancy date with S one of these days if we ever have a babysitter. Also, I own my first ever pair of brown ballet flats. And another pair of black slip-ons with a bit of a heel.

Also of utmost significance to this discussion: I now know what a wedge is. And I understand that ballet flats are not what ballerinas wear. And I know what Mary-Janes are, and why I should probably never ever wear them. (Trust me, they're really not a good look for me. Even a dork like me could see that fairly quickly.)

Now that I have such fashionable and grown-up feet, I should really bring the rest of my body into my 30s with me. I know only slightly more about make-up than I did about shoes, so that should probably be next on my list. I've never even owned either eye liner or lip liner. Ever. You're cringing a little, right? I do own various lipsticks and lip gloss, but I'm fairly convinced that every single one of them is the wrong shade for me, so I rarely actually put them on, and they're all so old that they should probably be thrown out anyway. Every once in a while, I put in the effort to put on some light foundation, blush, and lip gloss (maybe even mascara, if I'm feeling particularly fancy). And without fail, people at work comment that I look great, did I change my hair? New outfit? What's going on? So, I'm finally going to take the hint and go buy myself a daily make-up regimen that I might actually stick with. Something simple and subtle, I hope. Something that actually matches my skin tone.

If anyone has make-up suggestions, I'd love to hear them.