On Selfies, plus My Basic Makeup Routine

The other week, I did something I hadn’t done before: I posted an unobscured selfie on Instagram. This was actually a bit of a bold step for me. I’ve always been shy about showing my face on the Internet, and I’ve been insecure about how I look in photos in general. But I finally decided that if I’m going to write at all about beauty and aging, even a little, I should share my face so people can look at the person whose sharing beauty tips.

Selfies are a bit of a fraught subject in today’s world. There’s a camp of those who consider them purely narcissistic and vain. But I am uncomfortable with sweeping judgments and absolutes. Desiring to share one’s face is an intensely human thing. People have had their images taken for as long as history records. But for as long as history has recorded, there have been those who meet the recording of images with fear and suspicion. Now, I might not think that my phone has now captured my soul, but there is something intimate about capturing a picture of your face and giving it to another person.

Today, I wanted to talk about portraits in another light, too. As an actress, I have to have an up-to-date head shot to share with directors, either at an audition or before an audition. And as someone who was not considered a beautiful child and has an uncertain relationship with photography, head shots are near bikini waxing in levels of trust involved. So I’m happy that I have a friend who’s not only willing to do my head shot photography for free in exchange for my help where my talents lie, but also happens to be pretty damn good at getting pictures of my that look good.

So when he said he had equipment that needed testing and suggested I come by to get my head shot updated this week, I jumped at it. That it was a Tuesday evening after a full day’s work worried me, but I have my beauty routine down enough that I can do it quickly. This was a bit of an expanded beauty routine, as I shared on my Instagram story, because I was blow-drying my hair. I usually either air-dry or put my hair up damp on most days. But head shots require hair down and shiny and smooth, so I blow dry.

That, of course, left less time for makeup. No worries. I timed my makeup routine and it took six minutes. So I thought, in addition to sharing a selfie from the photographer’s studio, I’d also share my quick, 6-minute makeup routine.

First of all, my makeup always starts with good skin care. This isn’t counted in the six minutes, but it’s pretty necessary and not too involved. I started by washing my face with the Glossier Milky Jelly cleanser, which is my current morning cleanser. I’m still testing it, but you’ll get a review soon. Then, I did my hair. After doing my hair, I swiped with a cotton pad and some Thayer’s Rose Petal toner to remove any sweat. Blow-drying hair is hard work, after all, especially when you have a great deal of hair. From there, I used a dropperful of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid serum to make sure my skin was hydrated and plumped up. Then, I topped with a dab of CeraVe Baby Moisturizing cream to prime my skin. I let that sink in for a couple minutes while I sipped some tea. After all, I’d woken up at 5:30 that morning and was starting to drag a bit by 7 p.m.

Alright, now it’s time for the makeup. I start with Cover Girl’s Clean Matte BB Cream in Light/Medium. I dot it on my face and then buff it in with a Real Techniques Face Brush. It gives light coverage and a matte finish for camera. With the weather cooling down, I’ll probably switch to something a bit more hydrating for every day, but the Clean Matte has been wonderful over the summer. Then, I conceal with some Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Sand, under my eyes, around my nostrils, and on any lingering spots. From there, I pat some Nyx Rouge Cream Blush in Tea Rose on my cheeks.

Eyes are simple: I line my eyes with a dark brown liner, the Sephora Waterproof Retractable liner, and then soften the line with the built-in smudger tool. Then, I add a coat of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara on my top and bottom lashes. A swipe of a neutral pink lipstick finishes the look, in this case Revlon Butter Lipstick in Berry Smoothie.

So there you have it: six makeup products and six minutes to head shot readiness. And the effect is basically “Me, but better.” Of course, the photographer edits his shots, but I thought the unedited selfie I shared above would give a good idea of the gentle evening and enhancing that I ask of this makeup routine than the final, retouched portrait.

On a More Subdued Lip

I’ve made no secret of my love of red lips. In fact, I have an embarrassingly large collection of red lipsticks and it grows every month. I still need to share some of my latest finds, but this is not where I plan to do that. Today, I want to talk a little bit about what I wear when I’m not wearing a red lip.

What? I know, I’ve said before that I consider red lipstick exempt from “no-makeup” days, and some days I will wear not a stitch of other makeup, but will make sure my lips are an enjoyable shade of crimson. But some days, I really wear something else. Of course, something else can mean a full-coverage, traditional lipstick in another color, like plum, berry, or rose, but other days, I like to wear a subdued lip.

Lately, I’ve gotten interested in tinted lip balms. I like the ease of a tinted balm for weekends, when I really don’t wear makeup, or for events where I know food will be a focus and I won’t want to fussily check and reapply lipstick (even my longest-wear options will not survive some foods). Or if I’m going to an event where I want a polished, but low-maintenance-looking look. And sometimes red lipstick with jeans looks just a bit too Taylor Swift for someone north of her thirties.

The tinted balm I’ve been enjoying recently is Revlon’s Colorburst Lip Butter. Now, some of the shades are quite pigmented, but the finish is still glossy and sheer. I can see my lip color variations through it. The brightest one I have is Lollipop, which I actually bought thinking it would be sheerer than it is. It comes out a very bright pink, but settles to a nice shade that isn’t too powerful. For Sunday morning coffee dates, I like the shade Berry Smoothie, which is my quintessential “my lips but better” shade. And for a bit of fun, I got the neon orange Juicy Papaya. It goes on a sheer but bright coral color on my fairly pink lips and is a nice way to get some orange into my life with spring and summer coming up, without going full coral lipstick. The Revlon lip butters smell a bit fruity to me.

Another reason I like tinted lip balm is that some of them also have sun protection. For days when I’m going to be outside a bit, I use Maybelline Baby Lips in Quench, which smells slightly citrusy and provides a light layer of moisture and protection, under my lipstick. But I can’t really reapply often when I’m wearing lipstick, which limits the effectiveness of the SPF 20.

If I’m going to be spending the day outside, I reach for L’Oreal Colour Riche Balm, which combines sheer color with SPF 15. The low SPF is alright because I will reapply a sheer balm often. And the two shades I have work for a range of situations. Plush Plum is a slightly more pigmented plum-berry color that looks like a “done” lip. I’m wearing it to work today because I felt like wearing a softer lip. For a sheerer, MLBB look, I reach for Rose Elixir, which looks bright in the tube, but is quite sheer. Both of these would be ideal for my lake house vacations when I spend much of the day outside reading a book, but still want to look presentable when we go out for brunch or dinner. I find the L’Oreal balms smell of burnt sugar.

Sadly, I haven’t gotten pictures of these, but they are widely available at drugstores, Target, or Ulta, so I encourage you to check them out! Also, I have not received any incentive to write about these products; I just purchased them and liked them.

Friday Musings: Lip Treatments, Asian Skin Care, and Lady Friends

I was going to post about the new lip treatment I made this weekend, but I am not as enamored with as I thought I would be. I wanted something similar to the Bite Beauty Agave Lip mask because, while I love that, it’s rather expensive and it seems like I could make something similar for less money. Plus, I wanted to incorporate honey instead of agave into it. So I made a version of Egyptian Magic, but with some coconut oil instead of beeswax, so it had more of a soft texture than a salve/balm texture. Unfortunately, coconut oil always feels too light on my lips. I suppose the lanolin in the BB mask is necessary. I shall keep experimenting.


So as you know, I’ve been shaking up my skin care routine. After going about a month without putting anything but water and a little rosehip oil on my face, I’ve determined that I have dehydrated, combination skin, and I get clogged pores in my oily areas. I found Caroline Hirons, who convinced me to use non-foaming cleansers, perform a two-step cleansing in the evening, and layer my skin care to create a “moisture sandwich.” She also taught me the benefits of using hyaluronic acid on breakout-prone skin.

I took this one further and joined Reddit this week. I at first started posting in the Skincare Addiction subreddit, but soon found that many of the posts that interested me were in the Asian Beauty section. My routine is already an Asian-style routine, with several layered steps. And this week’s research has convinced me to try some actual Asian products to replace certain steps of my routine.

Of course, no Westerner’s discussion of Asian skin care is complete without mentioning the snails. One of the higher-profile Asian skin care ingredients is snail slime, which is supposed to have benefits to repairing the skin. So I mentioned to Boyfriend that I might try snail skin care and his response was that I wasn’t “allowed” to use snails. This naturally made me determined to put snails on my face. I went to some well-reputed Amazon sellers and found two bundles of sheet masks (a product I use, but that I have currently run out of) that each included one snail secretion sheet mask, among others that are also intriguing. For good measure, I threw in some cushion makeup and an undereye concealer with salmon in it. They just arrived yesterday, so we shall see how they treat my face.

And then, I plan to replace items in my current routine with Asian options as I run out, if I’m not already in love with the product I’m using. Most intriguing is Asian sunblock. Asian women seem to have the same love of tanning that I do: that is to say, none at all. And so they actually wear sunscreen every day and reapply it. This means that it has to be light and cosmetically elegant enough to wear every day without disrupting makeup. So I’m intrigued to see if an Asian sunscreen is more appealing than the current product I use.

I’ve also taken a step back from “clean” personal care. I still use a lot of my old favorites, and my hair will always prefer more natural products without silicones and the sulfates necessary to wash them out. But I’ve come to realize that certain ingredients I was avoiding were based on outdated research. And so I’ve tentatively embraced more conventional, albeit unconventional, products.

Finally, as I continue to delve more into skin care and makeup, I’m thankful for my lady friends. This weekend, I’m having an outing with two friends of mine, so we can go to Sephora and Ulta, and maybe Target, and just generally shop around. I don’t do a lot of shopping, and part of that is that I find shopping alone to be awkward and shopping with Boyfriend to feel rushed. I’m excited to shop with a group of ladies who wants to be there! And it will be a far different experience than researching online to find a product that I was already looking for.

So that was my week and look forward to the weekend. Happy Friday, all!

On Applying Lipstick in Public

Apparently it is poor manners to touch up one’s makeup in public. And yet, as a woman who favors a bold lip, I find myself reapplying lipstick at least once a day, after eating my lunch. So am I banished to the restroom for such touch-ups? Must I close my office door if I wish to rebrighten my pout? I say no.

And apparently Sali Hughes agrees with me, though apparently not many others. She specifically addresses applying full makeup on the subway train, which is not a skill I’ve mastered. I once saw a woman applying mascara at on a moving train in the seat in front of me and I had to marvel at the steadiness of her hand and the delicacy with which she picked out each lash and enhanced them. Personally, I was proud of myself for managing to develop the skill of putting on lipstick. I find that if I shape my Cupid’s bow at a stop, I can apply the rest of the lip as the train leaves the station.

But what about those who say that applying even lipstick in public is a social faux-pas, akin to picking one’s teeth? To them, I would point out that the first wave of women applying makeup in public came in the 1920s, when women started publicly embracing makeup in general, and when makeup became less taboo for women outside of the less socially-acceptable professions. It is no coincidence that women started becoming more brazen in their public displays of femininity around the same time that campaigns for equal rights for women started paying off.

For there is the idea that women are delicate, and that therefore anything that differentiates them from men is part of what makes them unfit for the public eye. A woman applying makeup in public is making a statement that says “Look at me; I am a woman who feels the need to use cosmetics to enhance my appearance in a way that men don’t.” Saying that she shouldn’t make this statement is similar to those who think that woman should only wear natural-looking makeup, particularly in the workplace. You don’t want to give away that you need makeup. But how is that different than saying you don’t want to give away the ways in which you are different from men (although that’s not to say men never wear makeup!)?

To those who say that applying makeup in public is disgusting, I would ask what is disgusting about it? Unlike clipping one’s nails or picking one’s teeth, there is no removal of body waste that needs to be disposed of. One might perhaps have a small tissue that one uses to blot lipstick, but this is easily folded and pocketed in a way that clippings and pickings would not be. No, applying makeup is no different than putting on a bit of hand cream or uncolored lip balm, something that people do without worrying about running off to a private area. I would argue that those who are disgusted by public application of makeup can ultimately trace the disgust back to the idea that women should not make public that they use makeup.

Personally, I reapply my lipstick wherever I happen to be when I notice it needs reapplying. If that is at the table at a cafe, so be it. If it is in my office, I don’t worry about someone walking by and seeing me. No, I wouldn’t reapply lipstick in an interview, but then, I wouldn’t wear a lipstick that would need reapplication from the rigors of sipping water and talking. I wear a bright lip; everyone knows that those don’t just happen naturally. So it should come as no surprise when they see me pull out a lipstick bullet and swipe on a coat. And I will often check my lipstick in a small compact mirror because I consider it far less gauche to check one’s makeup than to have a smear of lipstick on one’s chin. Even the most matte formulas can be defeated, and it’s not an enjoyable experience to be told you have lipstick where it ought not to be.

And so, I say put on your lipstick in public. It is unobtrusive and unlikely to cause damage to your eyes the way a hasty eye makeup application might. There is a minimum of danger, and you will find yourself keeping alive the spirit of women who made makeup a mainstream thing for a woman to care about in public. I say that’s good company.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Final Wrap-Up

This month has been interesting. I was tempted today to wear a light lip color (or no lipstick at all!) to see if anyone made a comment in the absence of red lipstick when they made no comment on its continued presence. But in the end, I chose to start June by keeping my new favorite as my daily wear.
My new, go-to, every day red lipstick is 100% Pure’s Pomegranate Anti-Aging Lipstick in Poppy. It’s a lovely true red, dark enough to be striking, but softens when I’ve been wearing it for about a half an hour to a lovely, wearable red. I swear it changes shade slightly depending on what I’m wearing that day, looking cooler on days when I’m wearing blues and purples, and growing warmer when I wear warmer colors. One thing I do know is that it never looks magenta, even in cool fluorescent lighting at the office.

Oh, and it’s creamy. It’s a delightfully smooth, lightweight, but moisturizing lipstick. And because it’s tinted with fruit extracts and contains only natural ingredients, I feel no strangeness when I inevitably eat it along with my lunch. It stains enough that my lips remain vibrant through my many cups of tea, and even some snacks. That said, it is a pleasure to reapply from its adorable pink metal tube.

All-in-all, I would call this month’s experiment a success. I certainly figured out what I really want in a lipstick, and was able to purchase just one more for which I find myself reaching again and again. And I’ve totally overcome my fear that my red lips are too conspicuous.

Has anyone else thought of doing a red lipstick challenge, either to acclimate themselves to the look or to find a favorite?

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week Two

Well, I’m halfway through my red lipstick challenge and I’m starting to eye new lipsticks. But I’m holding fast and wearing my existing collection. This week, I stuck mostly to my favorites from Bite Beauty, but I also revisited some old favorites.

I’ve determined that warm reds clash too much with my new purple glasses, so I’ve been trying to find a nice, bright, true neutral red. I quickly decided that my Bite Matte Crayon in Fraise was too pink, so I spent most of the week wearing the High-Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate. Of course, I love the experience of applying lipstick from a bullet, so it bummed me out that my contenders were pencils. Pomegranate is a nice red, but it leans ever so slightly cool, and because of that will pull pink in natural lighting on me.

Frustrated, I turned to my old collection of Revlon lipsticks. I found that my standard “dark” red was actually significantly brighter than the reds I’d been wearing. I tried wearing it for a day, but for some reason it now makes my lips itch, which was disconcerting. So over the weekend, I spent most of my off-stage time wearing my Lipstick Queen Red Sinner. It’s a lovely neutral red that only pulls pink in very cool lighting, which is probably why I thought it was too cool for me when I was wearing it to work (fluorescent lighting, you know?).

So I’m sticking to my Red Sinner for right now, with maybe a bit of Pomegranate thrown in for variety. I did some more research about lead in lipstick and actually managed to quell those fears a bit. So for now, I’m trying to get over the smell of the Lipstick Queen bullet and eyeing other formulas of theirs with non-vanilla scents.

The Art of Looking like Yourself

This past weekend, I had an appointment to get my head shots re-taken, as it’s been about a year since my last photo shoot. My hair has grown six inches and I’ve shifted my style towards a more vintage look. I was fortunate enough to earn a favor from a local photographer, so I had a wonderful hour-long shoot at a local park for free, including a few shots of Boyfriend and me.

Head shots are always a challenge for me because I don’t think I photograph well, and I find it difficult to smile on command. Previously, I had a friend with a decent camera take shots that I used for auditions. He’s a good photographer, but his greatest talent is being able to get me to smile well for his camera. That said, we often found that the best shots were ones where I was holding up cards for white balance, goofing off, and not really posing. But the point of head shots is to look like yourself, so it’s great when we end up with those shots. I’ve seen some friends whose head shots look too refined and almost nothing like they do in real life, so I’m always worried my shots will turn out like that.

Of course, leading up to my photo shoot, I was in a flurry about what to wear. I ended up wearing one of my favorite dresses (I have four in the same style) because it’s beautiful, a nice blue color that looks good on me, and feels like I’m wearing pajamas because it’s so comfortable. But I brought a change of clothes for some variety because I hear it’s the spice of life. For makeup, I did not use my standard clean face because the powder would photograph oddly. Instead, I used a matte foundation that I use for stage because I know it won’t melt off in the heat. I mixed it with a little rose-scented day cream for a base, and then used it full-strength on my undereye circles and blemishes. I added a touch of my Vapour multi-stick on the cheeks, and lined my top lash line with a bit of brown eyeshadow. A coat of mascara on all my lashes and I was almost done.

But what about lips?

Head shots are supposed to be about showing your natural look, so I knew I needed shots without my signature red lipstick (which I rarely wear to auditions anyway). But I went back and forth about whether I wanted to include a couple shots of myself with my red lip, for other cases when I might want a head shot. Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t need it, and stuck with my natural-but-flushed lip look using 100% Pure’s lip glaze in Raspberry to add a berry-stained flush to my lips. It provides just enough contrast that I don’t look odd without my red lips, but it’s sheer enough that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing lipstick.

Now that I had my wardrobe and look down, I went out for my appointment. The photo shoot took place at one of my favorite places: a local park with a lake where I spent so much of my time, in all weather, walking or jogging, or just wandering about. The background of nature definitely felt very “me” and I think set off my peculiar coloring better than a studio might. And the lighting was perfect.

The photographer seemed very pleased with the shoot, and I was pleased with the thumbnails I saw on his camera screen. I’m looking forward to see the final shots after he edits them. My hope is that I’ll have a lovely shot that I can use for the next year that really and truly makes me look like myself.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week one (plus a bit)

So I’ve finished up one week, and a little bit more, of my Red Lipstick Challenge. I started with my least favorite products so I could weed them out. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. I’ve outgrown the bright, orange-toned, Fire & Ice reds that started me on my red lipstick journey. I still enjoy wearing them, but I prefer a truer red now.

2. I’ve got a lot of lines on my upper lip, and some of my lipsticks feather into them when I don’t use lip liner. My Julep invisible lipliner has gotten a lot of use this week.

3. I’m just not a fan of liquid lipsticks. I’ve found one that I can deal with because of its longevity (Stila’s Beso), but I’ll probably save it for parties and date nights where I don’t want to touch up my lipstick so often. I also learned that Beso is Boyfriend’s favorite red of mine.

4. No one at work has commented that I’m wearing red lipstick every day. I think this is more a testament to how often I’ve started wearing it, rather than a testament to their perceptiveness, as they’ve never been shy about commenting on things like that before.

5. I love, love, love the experience of putting on lipstick from a bullet-style tube. I’m already predicting the outcome of this month based on this.

6. I am not a fan of the vanilla-y scent of Lipstick Queen lipstick. I’ve been loving the feel and the color, but I keep getting a whiff of vanilla and it’s my least favorite scent. Also, they fade surprisingly quickly.

Next week, I’ll be getting into my favorites and starting to wear things again. I’ve actually already retired most of the lipsticks I wore over the last nine days, so I’m down to only about four or five favorites.

My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine: New Beauty Finds

I’ve written previously about my vintage-inspired beauty routines, but I thought I’d add some updates and new finds. I alluded to some of these in my last post about my face prep for red lipstick, but I thought I’d give specifics.

I recently got a sample pack of lipsticks from Vapour Beauty, in my attempt to find a non-toxic lipstick that I could feel comfortable eating when it ends up as lip prints on my sandwich at lunch. Sadly, none of their red lipsticks were at all what I wanted, and I was at a loss for what I might use the $10 off code from the sample pack to buy. I decided to take a chance and buy one of their Aura Multi-Use color sticks in the color Courtesan, a lovely rose pink. I simply adore this shade. It’s rosy and neither too warm nor too cool a pink. It looks like a natural flush, and blends easily because the cream formula slips like a powder once you get it on your skin. It’s a little dry on the lips, so I only use it as a blush.

I’ve also upgraded my face makeup. I now use three separate products to conceal imperfections. I mentioned BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Gel Cream, which I adore, especially with the sun out in full force again. I’ve also found a stick makeup, W3ll People’s Narcissist foundation stick. I use it mostly as a concealer, but it will work as a fuller-coverage foundation for days when I need to look tip-top, like when I have an audition. I use that for spot-concealing most days; the formula is fairly matte, although I do get a bit greasy under it after several hours. For my undereye circles, however, I prefer Tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Concealer. I found a shade that looks slightly too orange on my hand, but blends perfectly under my eyes. It kind of sinks in and just looks velvety instead of like makeup. This gives me an everyday flawless look without looking too perfect, like when I’m in my stage makeup.

On top of all that, I set my makeup with a rose-scented rice powder based on a 1908 recipe, made by Little Bits Historical on Etsy. Her shop is a treasure trove of vintage-recipe beauty goodies, and I was drawn to this powder in one of my favorite scents, rose. The powder itself is a lovely, fine-milled rice powder that buffs into my skin easily and keeps me from getting shiny or greasy all day. It also has the most intoxicating scent: roses, but a little deeper note from the sandalwood she includes. And it’s very lightly pink to help brighten my warm complexion. I only wish she had a mini version that I could keep with me at work for touch-ups, maybe with a mini powder puff!

Just a note: None of the links above are affiliate links. I get nothing for raving about these products, just the satisfaction of sharing things I’ve enjoyed. Also, stay tuned for next week, when I’ll share my all-time favorite Etsy seller!

A Clean Slate for a Red Lip

So today is the first day of my personal Lipstick Challenge. My goal is to wear a red lip every day, so that I can get a good idea of where my collection stands before I buy new lippies. In order to really make the red shine, I like to keep the rest of my makeup incredibly simple. A nice clean slate for the lip to shine.

I’ve talked about my beauty routine in the past, so I won’t go into detail here. I rinse in the shower with warm and then cold water and then pat in a couple drops of facial oil. This soaks in while I eat breakfast and have my tea. Then, when I’m ready, I brush my teeth, do my hair, and finish my makeup.

I’ve actually stopped wearing eye makeup since I started wearing my glasses all the time, partially because it makes my eyes itch a little, and partially because I don’t really need the emphasis when I wear bold frames. So my makeup routine, before my bold lip, focuses on creating even-toned, but naturally-beautiful looking skin.

I prep with a swipe of rose toner to remove excess oil, then apply BareMinerals Complexion Rescue gel cream. It’s an oil-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free tinted moisturizer that leaves my skin glowing and slightly evened out. The lovely thing is that they make all three undertones in all their shades, so I can finally embrace my proper pale skin (I’m light but warm, so generally have to go with “medium” shades to keep from looking chalky or too pink). I apply my gel cream, undereye concealer, and concealer on any spots, and let that sink in. Then, I blend out the concealer and apply a bit of cream blush on the apples of my cheeks. I follow this with a dusting of rose-scented rice powder made from an historical recipe from 1908. I promise I’ll go into detail in the future about these last two, as they are recent discoveries.

This leaves me with soft, clean skin that’s ready for a bold lip! And it’s not just for red lips, either. Because I knew I was bidding au revoir to my non-reds yesterday, I decided to rock a deep berry lip. Against pale skin with just a hint of blush, it was very Gothic looking without looking Goth.