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.


  1. Overall it sounds like a successful trip. As for cleansers I usually buy Clinique's one for normal skin.

  2. Oh my gosh, this is incredibly useful. The last time I put on any make-up was my wedding, and prior to that ... maybe a big night a couple of years ago? But I could definitely use some help nowadays. I love the idea of going to Sephora and getting advice, and 6 minutes does seem a reasonable amount of time (although given that I don't always remember to brush my hair or put on chapstick I'm not sure I could make it a daily routine yet ...)

  3. Good for you! It's hard to find the right color for us white people. ;)

    As another light skinned person here's my fav. go to products:

    Burt's Bees in pomegranate or some other berry colored tint. It looks oh so natural and yet your lips are just a touch more pink. And, it doesn't taste half bad either, so kissing really is an option. ;)

    I like the true match line of makeup found in any grocery store. I use their blush, particularly because they have blushes for people with cool undertones, meaning that with this blush it won't ever look too orange.

    I still have yet to find the perfect mascara, but yes, mascara is a must. Just remember to apply in both directions because the blonde eyelashes at the roots will show when you close your eyes otherwise.

    I use bareminerals makeup for the rest and then if you ever use shadow, buy a shadow brush, it's so worth it. And utra shimmer shadow is best as well. :)

  4. How fun!! You are still missing my favorite part (all the yummy colors of eye shadow) but what a great start. The concealer and foundation are worth their weight in gold!

    As far as facial cleansers, I don't really have a favorite. I used Clinique for a long time, but these days I usually just get something from the drug store. I am using an olive oil cleanser right now, I love how soft it is. I am guessing it depends on your skin, so venture over to that aisle and try something out! :)

  5. Good job! I did this when I first started working (post undergrad) and realized that I needed to look like the other adults. It was a research job but still required me to look the part. Now back in grad school I have fallen off. But my go to everyday NO MATTER what is mascara! It makes you look like you have a full face even when you have nothing.

    My recommendation: Maybelline, the good old pink and green tube. It's always the most popular in the magazines and I have been using it since 18. It's cheap and it works, can't beat it.

  6. I am using the oil cleansing method for cleansing and I think I am a big fan. Cheap, easy, natural, and seems to work. Plus, you don't have to wash your face more than once a day, so a big time saver.

    I am highly sensitive to mascara. It makes my eyes burn. So my solution to that was to buy the really expensive hypoallergenic kind for a while. Then I switched to waterproof and it is the same. I think the waterproof part makes it stick more to my eyelashes and doesn't get any in my eyes.

  7. I owe this to myself too! I hope I am able to shirk off what it is, that holds me away from doing so

  8. I stick with Maybeline for mascara - good quality for the price.

  9. Hoooray!!!!!! I am excited to hear about your successful trip to Sephora! Aren't they helpful??

    I like the mineral foundation as well, I used it for a long time and still do when the mood strikes. In fact, that's what I did for my wedding, all mineral makeup. Good stuff! See, 6 minutes a day can make a just that difference to look a bit more polished. Hooray!!

    For cleanser I recommend Neutrogena Foaming Face Cleanser. It's the stuff that comes in the light blue bottle with the white pump, at most drugstores and Target. It comes out looking like regular handsoap so it's nothing crazy, but it's very effective and gets all the makeup off. I've used other cleansers where after i washed my face, if I rubbed an astringent or toner or something else on my face with a cotton ball, makeup would come off onto the cotton ball and I'd be like, didn't I just wash my face? But this cleanser gets it all off in one step, and it's not harsh or anything, my skin has never been bothered by it at all.

  10. Apparently I have perfected the parent-to-a-toddler-who-cares-how-she-looks-but-only-to-a-degree makeup routine.

    As for mascara, I had an Oil of Olay one I loved, but I think they stopped making makeup. I've been trying to find a replacement for a while with no real success. For facial cleanser, I continue to use Oil of Olay foaming face wash, but they keep changing which version they sell at each of the local stores. Ugh. So I buy what I can find.


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