Monday, August 15, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

I’m packing to leave town for nearly six weeks, and I am feeling the stress of whittling down my makeup and skin care to a manageable, portable level. I tried to write a post about it, but it was incredibly boring and harshing my mellow.

So, let’s talk about lip stains instead! These marker-type lip products are everywhere lately, and they can be great for a lot of reasons. If you’re not into reapplying lipstick (or not a big fan of lipstick in general), stains can give you a nice boost of colour without feeling like you’re wearing anything. And they last quite a while too, so they’re great for an afternoon or evening when you don’t feel like checking to see how your lippie’s holding up. My absolute fave use is to apply one as a base colour—whatever lipstick/liner/gloss you put over top will have that much more intensity and staying power.

I’ve tried lots of lip stains over the past few months, many of them from the drugstore brands. I’ve tried a few higher-end ones in the past, and was unimpressed to the point that I stopped wasting my money. At least if I’m going to be disappointed, I want to be disappointed to the tune of six to ten bucks, not eighteen to thirty, y’know?

A word of warning about lip stains: putting these on cracked, dry, and flaking lips is like trying to repaint a wall that’s peeling. You need to start with a relatively smooth surface, or risk looking like a dehydrated street urchin. Exfoliate your lips with a product for that purpose, or just use a washcloth or old soft toothbrush, then apply a non-greasy lip balm and let it sink in for a few minutes.

The original (and tastiest!) lipstain...

Cover Girl Outlast Lipstain
Colours purchased: Everbloom Kiss and Wildberry Wink

I think these were the first drugstore lipstains I purchased in my frenzy, and they’re…okay. I don’t find the wear-time on these to be that great, but in their favour, they haven’t dried out, they apply relatively smoothly, and the colour selection is nice. I’m placing these in the middle of the pack (which is where I place most Cover Girl products … except for those new NatureLuxe gloss balms—those things are awesome.)

Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm
Colour purchased: Passion

This seemed like a good idea: lipstains can be on the dry side, so why not include a nice balm to apply over top? So we’ve got the stain-pen-thing on one end and the balm on the other. Some reviewers complained that the balm doesn’t twist up—it’s fully exposed under its plastic cap and can break off easily. At the time, I thought, god, learn how to operate a lip balm, why dontcha? And then mine broke off, and I wasn’t so smug anymore. Seriously, this is a great idea rendered COMPLETELY USELESS by what comedian Ben Elton called “The Ministry of Crap Design.” I can’t even remember what the stain was like. I think it was a little pale and dry for my liking, but I can’t confirm, since I chucked it away in anger.

Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstain
Colour purchased: In The Buff

This lipstain has the lowest colour payoff of all the ones I own, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did buy the lightest shade on offer, since I was looking for a nice base for nude lip looks. I use it pretty often, but it’s definitely dried out after a couple of months. These products aren’t like lipsticks in the sense that you can observe how much of the product remains. They just run out of juice, like an actual marker. (Another reason not to spend too much—you’re getting nowhere near the amount of product that you would with a traditional lipstick or gloss.)
On a fun note, this lip marker smells kinda like fruit punch. On a less-fun note, it has a tendency to shed some fibres from the marker tip when applying. I’d chalk it up to getting old (the marker, not me), but I remember it doing this even when it was new.

Lise Watier Hydra Shine Lip Stain
Colour purchased: Cerise

Hydra Shines go for about 20 bucks each, making them the highest-priced of my current lip-marker arsenal. I’m seldom disappointed with Lise Watier products—I think it’s one of the most overlooked and underrated brands out there. But I understand why—they kind of disappear at the drugstore, lost between the really high-end stuff and the cheap and cheerful. Anyway, when I saw Cerise, I had to have it—it was one of the brightest lipstains I’d seen.
Overall, I like it a lot. The colour is bold and applies evenly. It feels quite wet going on, but it doesn’t migrate much into any fines lines around my lips—and given the brightness of the shade, that’s impressive. The wear time is good. There’s no sign of it drying out so far, and it feels almost nice enough to wear alone. (The name “Hydra Shine” is a bit misleading, since it imparts neither hydration nor shine, but it is probably the least drying of all of them). If you’re looking for a solid buy at this price point, Lise is your gal.

NYC NewYorkColor Smooch Proof 16HR Lip Stain
Colour Purchased: Rock On Ruby

You know I always save my favourite for last, don’t you? I’d read some favourable reviews of these stains, and when I found them (they’re available at some London Drugs stores, Zellers, and Rexall), I grabbed one. I think I spent just over five dollars, making NYC the cheapest of the bunch. But you wouldn’t know that to use it. This is a bright and delectable “summer red” with good staying power and smooth application. The best part for me though is how evenly the product wears off. I don’t get anywhere near the 16-hour mark with this, but after several hours, I simply end up with a lighter version of what I originally applied. No patchiness, no “ring around the lips.” I will most definitely be picking up another one of these, and reviewing more products from this line in the weeks ahead. (Spoiler alert—I’ll be sharing some AMAZING blushes and eyeshadows from this line that cost less than a decent cappuccino.)

If there’s a great (or terrible!) lip stain out there that I’ve missed, tell me about it! Happy smooching…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eye Creams and Magical Thinking

“The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh Ralphy, you know: there are mornings when I wake up and it’s clear that I not only had one hell of a good time the night before, but over the last few lifetimes. If my eyes are any indication, my soul is most definitely antiquated.

I’ve had a couple requests to recommend products for the eye area, and there are few beauty products on which ladies hang more hope than eye creams. We know that lipstick isn’t going to change our lives, and we maintain a kind of cautious optimism about most skincare preparations, but when it comes to eyes, we’re willing to believe just about anything in our quest to firm, tighten, de-puff, brighten, or otherwise improve that tiny bit of real estate around our peepers. Cosmetic companies know this and exploit it. They use marketing words that aren’t words at all (usually some play on “botox”), make scientific promises that are about as far away from actual science as a thing can get, tell us a product is made with something wonderful and then give us the merest “fairy dusting” in the actual ingredients list—and charge us all top dollar for believing their gross misrepresentations.

My number one recommendation then, is simple: manage your expectations. No matter what the packaging or advertising suggests, a topically applied product isn’t going to completely counteract your genetics and undo the effects of time and gravity. If such a product existed, forget my eyes—I’d be rubbing it on my tits. Realistically, with a good formula, you can hope for a slightly more even skintone, a small reduction in lines and wrinkles along with a smoother and softer feeling, perhaps a temporary tightening of the skin around the eyes, and a delay in the accumulation of further damage.

Paula Begoun, with whom I don’t always agree (but I love her website and respect her research), posits that we don’t need an eye cream at all. If a product is well-formulated, she reasons, why wouldn’t you be able to use it around the eyes? She maintains the area is not more sensitive or in “need of special care”. However, my eyeballs are about as delicate as can be, so products that work great on my face (such as SPFs, retinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) would turn me into a weepy Tammy-Faye Baker mess. But if you like your regular face creams, give it a try—you might save some money, which you can then use to buy me a beer!

While we’re talking about Paula, I suggest you read some of her information about useful cosmetic ingredients. Knowing what to look for—and what to avoid—has been really helpful for me. Many of us read our food ingredients obsessively but have no idea what we’re putting on our skin, so taking a few minutes to find out what some of that stuff actually is, and what it does, can save you lots of money and trial and error in the long run.

Speaking of saving your money: I’d like to caution you against the latest trend in eye creams, which are those pen-like products with the roller-balls or the fancy metal applicators. I haven’t had much success with these, although I’ve only tried a few. Some of them contain film-forming agents that can temporarily tighten skin, or in my case, make my eyes water and burn, thereby defeating its purpose and making me look puffier, or they contain ingredients that “cool” the skin. Problem is, these things are usually irritants, like peppermint and menthol, or they contain a lot of alcohol, which does feel cool and delicious—too bad that sensation is the alcohol evaporating and pulling your skin’s moisture out with it. Dryness and irritation are the opposite of what most of us are going for. So, if you really want that cool feeling, buy quality products and store them in the refrigerator.

Other things you can do to improve your eyes:

Protect your eyes from the sun. Put yer sunglasses on, and try an eye cream with a sunscreen if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s crazy how few eye creams contain sun protection, but Elizabeth Arden makes a great one.

Clean your face properly. Sleeping in your makeup is not doing you any favours. If you’re looking for a good eye cream, and you’re not even washing your face at night, GIRL, what is your problem?

Stop rubbing your eyes. Yanking on your skin to apply or remove makeup might not seem like a big deal, but if you do it every day, it’s gonna add up—especially if you also rub your eyes when you’re tired or itchy. Quit it.

Eat fat. My optometrist told me this, so consider it legit. I have very dry and irritated eyes, and my eye doc says it’s because there’s not enough FAT in my TEARS. That seems like such a supermodel problem that I kind of love it. But for real: make sure you’re getting enough healthy fat in your diet: the good stuff like fish oil, nuts, avocado…

Be virtuous. I know, I hate this one too, but getting adequate sleep, drinking lots of water, and watching your intake of booze and salt can really help cut down on the under-eye bags and general bedraggled appearance. My mother, rest her soul, used to describe my morning-after eyes as “two piss-holes in the snow.” Yeah, she was a real treat.

The old “spoon trick”. Everyone knows about the DIY eye “masks”: cucumber slices, or tea bags, or those gel masques from the drugstore, but who has the time or inclination to actually do any of that shit? Here’s my thirty-second solution: keep two teaspoons in your freezer all the time. When you’re getting ready to go out or you need a little pick-me-up, pull those spoons out, wave ‘em around for a second or two so you don’t stick to them, and then just gently press the spoons around your eye sockets. So cool! So refreshing! Seriously, it works. Cuts down on puffiness and redness and feels almost as good as a nap. I can’t use most eye drops, so this trick really makes a difference.

So, you’re thinking, what eye cream does this bitch use? Well, I try different ones, but right now I’m loving my ROC Complete Lift eye cream (but the Canadian version is in a jar, not a tube as the site shows). Yes, it promises all the things I told you not to believe: firming, tightening, depuffing, and so on. What it actually does is feels nice, doesn’t pill or glom up when I put makeup over it, and has yet to give me any sensitivity. Lowered expectations for the win!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Beauty Must-Haves!

This post is more about wishful thinking than anything, since it’s now the end of June and we’ve had maybe two decent days in Vancouver so far. Worst Summer Ever! Anyway, sometime later in August, I’ll get to go to a proper part of Canada where the temperature climbs to a deliciously sticky 32 degrees and then I’ll need all of these awesome summer beauty treats!

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil
I bought myself a little bottle of this last year and am almost due for a new one. This is truly one of those all-in-one products, and a few drops goes a long way. It’s an after-shower moisturizer, a bath oil, a cuticle oil, a hair treatment...I’ve used it to remove eye makeup and applied it to freshly shaved underarms without incident—-and that’s really saying something. Also, it’s French and comes in a totally impractical but super-chic-looking glass bottle. This also comes in a version with gold shimmer, which is fabulous, but does limit its versatility somewhat. You know it fucking kills me to say that, because Mama loves her sparkles.

Lotion with sunscreen
I’m not one of those paranoiacs who carries an umbrella in July, but I also don’t want to get a sunburn. I always carry a lip balm with sunscreen in my arsenal, but sometimes it’s not enough. Having a tube of Lubriderm SPF 15 lotion in your bag can save you on those days when the sun comes out unexpectedly, or you end up sitting on a patio drinking all afternoon. It’s light enough that you can put a bit on your face in a pinch, but rich enough that you can use it as your summer hand lotion. You also get to play the hero and help out the men in your life, who never bother to think about sunscreen until AFTER they get a burn and then ask you for some like it’s a magical time machine that undoes sun damage. Sigh.

Lightweight Foot Refreshment
Everyone makes a peppermint foot lotion, but if it smells and feels as goopy as toothpaste, I’m not interested. I want something that sinks in quickly and won’t leave me sliding around in my shoes like I just buttered my feet. I have two go-to products for this, both from brands I don’t ordinarily purchase.

Mary Kay Mint Bliss Energizing Lotion for Feet and Legs
I love that this product even says you can apply it through hosiery. I always envision tired ladies at the bank rubbing this into their stocking-clad legs during their lunch breaks. It’s that light and fresh.

Arbonne SeaSource Detox Spa Renewing Body Gelee
This product has a smell more “green” than minty, and it’s actually meant to be used as a muscle rub or spa treatment that you wash off. I’ve had great success using as a lightweight foot and leg cream though, or as a super-silky body lotion on those days that you feel hot again thirty seconds after you get out of the shower. A word of caution: wash your hands after applying. You do not want to get this stuff in your eyes or on a mucus membrane. Ahem.

Caudalie Grape Water To Go
If you’ve ever wondered: who are those weirdoes who buy a spray can of water, then look no further. I’ve used Evian and Vichy in the past, but this one is my new favourite. Not only does it provide the finest mist of all of them, but it’s also made from GRAPE WATER. It’s like French wine—for your face! It’s a wonderful pick me up on sweltering days. A spritz on the back of your neck seems to lower your core temperature immediately. Keep a travel size in your bag, and a full-sized one in your fridge. Ahhh.

Shimmer lotion
I’ve used a lot of shimmer products over the years, and loved nearly all of them. The problem is that most of them are quite heavily fragranced and VERY sparkly, so you can wind up feel like the town tramp, what with all your glitter and fancy smells. You harlot.
My newest favourite is Hawaiian Tropic’s Shimmer Effect Coconut Papaya After Sun Lotion. Why do I love it?
1. The shimmer here is very low-key, so you won’t feel like a disco ball if you go out in the sunshine. It’s just a very light golden glow.
2. It’s a nice moisturizing lotion with a very summery scent, but again, nothing so offensive that you feel like a giant pina colada.
3. It’s cheap and readily available, so you can stock up when the drugstore has a sale!
I should mention that this shimmer product also comes in sunscreen form. If that isn’t civilized, I don’t know what is.

Baby Wipes
Buy ‘em by the gross in those travel sizes and take an impromptu bath anywhere. Ice-cream hands, dirty sandal feet, stinky pits…you get the idea. Once I gave a baby wipe and some mint gum to a sweaty drunk girl who was barfing and she was so happy she cried a bit. If I ran the Girl Guides, there’d be a badge for that.

Blotting papers
Again, available from the drugstore to the health food store to Holt Renfrew. Pick a favourite, although I like ‘em cheap and cheerful. Dabbing yourself with these is a much better idea than trying to cake powder atop a shiny face. In a pinch, I’ve been known to use a single ply of a Kleenex or even toilet tissue to blot away shine. Bonus points for first misting with the Caudalie Grape Water, then blotting. Oooh, look at you, Frenchie!

Red lipstick
Nothing says, “I’m just this fabulous and I don’t give a shit” like red lipstick for evening—with hardly any other makeup. You’re a bit tan, your hair’s a mess, and it’s the cocktail hour. So: just spray and blot yer face, drag a couple of drops of the Huile Prodigieuse through your hair and pin it half up, and then slick on a red lippie (I like an orange-based one in the summer) right from the tube. There’s nothing sexier. I always think of the Michael Kors SS 2009 runway look for this (see above), which I think was the height of unstudied makeup perfection.

Edited to add:
Hey Western Canadians, I was in London Drugs yesterday and wanted to tell you that two of these products are on sale right now! The entire Nuxe line, including both sizes of the Huile Prodigieuse, is 25% off, and Hawaiian Tropic products are $7.99 each—plus if you buy any two, you get six bucks off. Hot damn!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dogs are Barking

“Dorothy, please. A lady never admits her feet hurt.”
--Marilyn Monroe (as Lorelei Lee) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I know there are folks who can’t understand why anyone would wear uncomfortable shoes. If you’re one of them, you might want to stop reading now in case your head explodes. I recently admitted to some lady friends that when my feet get bashed up from sandal straps or what have you, I’ll just slap some concealer on them and keep on truckin’. This was met with horrified amusement. Yes. I wear MAKEUP ON MY FEET SOMETIMES. That’s the kind of person I am. I’ll understand if you never speak to me again. It’s the same reason I can’t look at people who wear those weird monkey shoes with the separate toes. Ew.

So yeah, I love skinny little straps and shiny buckles and rope-ties and leather...and I also like cute shoes. Zing! I was going to title this post “how to keep fabulous summer shoes from hurting your feet”, but considering I constantly rotate my footwear in an ongoing attempt to just hurt different parts of my feet each day, that title would be terribly misleading. (My husband, who hears a constant colour commentary about my suffering, is pretty much convinced that all my shoes are made of piano wire and cheese graters.) So it might be better to think about “minimizing shoe-related foot agony”. Accurate AND catchy!

See, these look like they hurt (and they do)...

You might think heels would be the worst culprits, but honestly, I’ve had some harmless-looking flats in my time that inflicted Inquisition-like levels of pain after only an hour or two. So one has to be prepared for pain! Gird your insteps, bitches: it’s time for battle.

...but these innocent-looking flats hurt even more!

Your Tender Tootsies Toolkit

1. Shoe inserts (heel grips, ball-of-foot cushions, gel insoles, strap liners and so on)
Obviously, you should be buying shoes that fit. Take it from me, those suckers are not going to magically feel BETTER once you’ve paid for them. If they hurt in the store, they are not your friends. But sometimes we make mistakes—or a shoe does fit properly, but as you walk, you discover a little wiggle room at the heel that causes a blister, or your foot slides forward and your piggies get squeezed through the peeptoe like beef through a grinder. The right shoe insert can ease the pressure in tight areas, or snug up the slippy bits. There’s about a million of these things at the drugstore now. I even used a pair of velvety soft thin ones in a pair of flat sandals that were utterly pain-free EXCEPT for a seam that ran right under my big toe. After ten minutes, it was annoying. After two hours, it was like walking on a knife-edge. Dr. Scholl to the rescue!

2. Blister block and cushions
One used to have to procure one’s blister block at stores for runners. (Runners are those people in the weird shorts who hop up and down at stoplights and never look like they’re having any fun. Poor buggers.) Luckily, now Band-Aid and lots of other brands make these easy-to-use sticks. You just smear a little on the area that gets chafed, and theoretically at least, it will cut down on the friction and stop blisters from forming. But while it certainly can help, it can’t work miracles. (I’m looking at you, nude slingbacks!) The other thing to watch out for is that blister-block goo attracts dust and dirt, so a stroll in the city can give you a serious case of “castaway feet”. (I like to carry a mini-pack of baby wipes in my handbag during the summer months. You never know when you’ve going to need to have a sponge-bath in a public restroom.)

If you’ve already got the damn blister, then you know the pain of changing band-aids every five minutes as it twists up under your shoe and does three-fifths of fuck-all. Band-Aid makes a blister-healing bandage that actually stays on, provided your feet are clean and dry (none of that blister-blocking goo, in other words). Once, I had one stay on for DAYS, even with walking and swimming and showering. Warning: these things are stupidly expensive. Stupidly! But if you’re walking a lot and every shoe you own is tearing your foot to ribbons, you’ll thank me.

3. Surgical Tape
Okay, I haven’t road-tested this yet, but I can assure you that I will, since this kind of weirdo self torture is right up my alley. Try taping your third and fourth toes together, say the crazy ladies over at the Today show. Apparently, this aligns some muscle or some damn thing…look, who gives a shit, as long as it works. And I don’t have to tell you this trick is only for closed-toe shoes, right? Don’t be like the sad lady on the bus wearing Spice-tone knee-highs with white sandals.

4. Socks
One good way to get your shoes broken in a bit is to wear them for short stretches of time around the house. But sometimes you don’t have a week—you’ve got to wear those suckers to a party tonight, and you just know you’re going to be standing up, drinking sangria, then dancing…so time is of the essence. Get a thickish pair of sport socks (the thickest that you can wear and still get into the damn shoe). Wet them in cool water and wring them out as best you can. Then jam those soggy sock feet into your shoes and do something fun like whipping up a batch of raspberry jam or homemade meth. The moisture and the added thickness should help stretch out the naughty areas of your shoes. This only works on leather or cloth though. PVC ain’t gonna stretch, no matter what the unctuous shoe seller might have told you. I guess you could also take shoes to the shoe guy for stretching…but I stopped bringing my shoe guy too-small shoes, because he thinks I’m an idiot.

Under “socks” I must also make a brief mention of these “sock liner” contraptions that are everywhere these days. Here’s my tip: DON’T EVEN BOTHER. I’ve bought several different kinds at price points from H&M right on up to Hue, and they all do the exact same thing. They slide right off my heel and migrate towards my toes within three blocks of leaving the house. I feel like a little kid whose socks are all bunched up in the toe of her snow boots. Also, no matter what, they show and look matronly. Only wealthy Japanese teenagers can get away with looking like a grandma. Oh, and actual grandmas. Carry on!

5. Ice bags, ibuprofen, Polysporin, Epsom salts
Sometimes all that’s left to do is recover. Stay home. Soak your feet, watch a movie, wear slippers. I like to put in my pedicure separators to stretch my toes out, but lotsa hardcores swear by Yoga Toes. If you do have to go out, there’s always concealer...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blogs, Biba, and Beauty

You know what? Making a video is hard. That’s why I haven’t posted one yet. I hadn’t given much thought to how complicated it would be: getting the lighting half decent, getting the angles right so you don’t obscure your own handiwork, the sound…to say nothing of the fact that I look like a withered hag when you get about four inches away from my face. That’ll never do! So until I find a way to deal with some or all of those challenges, I’m going to leave it to the professionals.

There’s no shortage of makeup blogs that have great videos. In fact, I usually avoid reading makeup-artists’ blogs if I don’t want to lose several hours of my time each day. I could watch makeup tutorials forever!

One of my favourite blogs belongs to Lisa Eldridge. She’s incredibly beautiful and has a lovely plummy voice that’s so soothing. She’s got an amazing archive of video tutorials on her site, from the basic to the outrageous. Her interest in vintage makeup is what really gives me a thrill, however.

She recently visited the home of collector, author, and historian Madeleine Marsh to peruse and discuss her breathtaking collection of makeup and beauty paraphernalia from the Victorian Age to the 1930s, and WWII to the 1970s. These two videos are so interesting even if you’re not a “makeup person,” because they tell us so much about culture and social mores of the time.

These videos have whet my appetite for Marsh’s newest book, Compacts and Cosmetics, Beauty from Victorian Times to the Present Day. I’m sure the photos of those amazing vintage compacts is worth the price, but I’m really interested in hearing more of Madeleine Marsh’s decade-by-decade commentary!

Of course, one of my favourite decades for beauty (well, for everything, really) is the 1970s, and I think it’s one of Lisa Eldridge’s as well. She collects unopened vintage makeup from the Biba Cosmetics line—oh god, the picture above is like pornography for me! In this video, she opens some unused Biba and does a classic “bruised fruit” Biba look on a model. Amazing! I wish I was twenty years younger so I could get away with this.

Even though I totally shouldn't ask this, since I'll never get any work done EVER AGAIN, do you have a favourite beauty blog?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the Street

Today started badly, with that particular assortment of missed appointments and frayed nerves and thwarted plans that doesn’t really seem like that big a deal until you’ve been out of the house for a few hours and have achieved absolutely nothing, then suddenly you’re standing in a coffee shop and feel like crying because the poor counter girl got your order wrong.

But things got better when Rob and I took in a matinee. Things nearly always look better after an afternoon at the movies, certainly, but today we saw Bill Cunningham New York, and it restored my faith in humanity.

If you don’t know who Bill Cunningham is, read his Wikipedia entry or watch a few of his wonderful "On the Street" videos for the New York Times. Then go see the film. It doesn’t matter if you give a toss about photography, or fashion, or anything, because even though Bill’s made a career of taking pictures of clothes, it’s about so much more than that.

This is a film about art, and about loving beauty. It’s a film about a monastic devotion to one’s work, to the exclusion of everything else. It’s about principles and self-respect and stubbornness and possibly loneliness. And yes, it’s about the joys of fashion.

One of the many things that struck me about this documentary is that it’s populated by old people. I like seeing and hearing from grown-ups in their seventies, eighties, and nineties. These are people who’ve lived—and continue to live—amazingly rich and fascinating lives. When I watch television (or consume any mass culture, really), all I see are the very young. It’s easy to forget that old people exist at all, much less remember that they’re doing cool stuff and that they have things to share with us. What could a rich twenty-two-year-old celebrity, compared to these individuals, possibly have to say about the world?

Another thing that intrigued me was seeing someone still shooting rolls of film. He's probably the only guy at the Times who has to go and pick up his negatives, then painstakingly go through all those images to select the ones to run in his columns, then have them scanned, then pull up a chair beside John, his layout guy, and argue about what should go where (the source of some of the movie's funniest moments). I guess it's a testament to how far and how fast technology has come that I find this process so deliciously old-fashioned.

There’s so much to enjoy about this lovely movie, and so much to talk about, but I just hope you’ll go and see it. Bill Cunningham New York is as charming, confounding, and delightful as the man it follows. “We all get dressed for Bill,” says American Vogue editor Anna Wintour in the film, and even though I don’t live anywhere near New York or Paris, I want to get dressed for Bill too.

Here's the trailer--now go!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My crush with eyeliner.

I’ve had a few requests to discuss long-wearing eyeliner, or rather, how to do eyeliner that doesn’t smudge. Unlike advanced makeup tricks, like putting on false eyelashes or doing your own nail art, applying a bit of eyeliner—and having it stay where we put it—is something many of us want to be able to do, at least some days. So! Let’s figure out how to do that.
First things first, though—if your liner always ends up fading, or migrating onto your lids and creasing, or smudges like crazy below your lower lids, there are things to help it “set” a bit better. But the main technique to master is picking up your wallet and keys and getting your ass to the store, because you probably need to buy a new eyeliner! Take comfort in knowing that if you’ve got major issues with a liner, it’s not you; it’s the liner. Just like lovers, there are a lot of bad ones.

When you’re shopping for liner, you’re looking for the right balance of “slip.” Slip is the smoothness and glide of the product. Liners with great slip are easy to apply and blend, but may sacrifice durability. On the flip side, some liners labelled waterproof or long-wearing might last all day, but if their application feels like you’re sawing at your eyelid with a Crayola, that’s a less-than-desirable experience.

(Let’s take a moment to note that this here post is specific to eyeliner pencils. There are myriad liner formulations out there, including cake, liquid, pen, and gel, and we can talk about all of them later, but when it comes to the basics, most of us are gonna choose pencil.)

Because I have ridiculously sensitive eyeballs, I need a super-smooth liner. But I also like to line the waterline (this is the tender and juicy inner rim of the top and/or bottom lid.) It’s hard to find a liner that’s soft enough to apply here, but will still stick to the area. EW IT’S A MUCUS MEMBRANE YOU GUYS but once you’ve started lining it, just try to stop. So, when Auntie Jenni recommends a liner, you know it’s gonna stay put. I’ve tried about a billion, so here are some of my favourite brands for every budget.

At the drugstore:
It’s no fuckin’ secret that I’m a big fan of the drugstore. Many makeup products here can be just as good or better than the snazzola department-store stuff. But when it comes to liner, I’ve found only a few cheapos that meet my high standards.

Revlon Colorstay
This is a good basic liner that wears well. I haven’t used it in a while, since I’ve since found the liner of my dreams, but you could do worse. Not a ton of colours, but it does the job.

Covergirl Liquiline Blast
This product promises “the intensity of a liquid in a pencil” which is a load of utter horseshit, but it is a good, well-pigmented product that has the added bonus of a smudger do-dad on the end. It also has a pretty good colour selection. It requires sharpening, and some people have a hard time sharpening them, which always surprises me. Are they trying to hack away at it with an old Buck knife or something? If it does go a bit crumbly on you, put it in the freezer for a few minutes before sharpening it.

Prestige Waterproof Eyeliner
A word of warning—don’t even bother with the other liners that this brand makes. You want the pencil in the link. Yep, that one.

At department stores/Sephora, etc:

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil
If you’ve been looking for the liners required to complete your Rainbow Brite costume, look no further. These are fantastic pencils, with excellent wear and fantastic slip. They glide on like a dream and are smudgeable for about twenty seconds, then set and will not budge. They have a huge following, and despite their relatively high price point, it’s easy to see why. They also have awesome names: my faves include Bourbon, Rock Star, 1999, and Zero.

Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes
Another great choice for those who love colour, although they come in plenty of “normal” tones too. The one thing I’ve noticed about these is that some colours don’t seem to apply/wear as well as others, and I think they dry out more quickly than the Urban Decay ones. But your experience might be different, so give them a try. And never leave your lids off!

Stila Smudge Sticks
It’s really hard for me to talk about this liner without GETTING A BIT SHOUTY. This is my Holy Grail of eyeliners, the liner I would have made myself if I had a chemistry degree and a makeup company. Named after their beloved “Smudge Pots”, these are a relatively new product, and I’m praying that Stila never discontinues them. The word “smudge” is totally misleading here, since these babies set within moments of application. They’re twist-up and don’t need sharpening, which is a bonus in my book. Don't twist up more than a millimeter at a time though, because they’re soft enough to break off. And when a product ounce for ounce costs more than ACTUAL GOLD, you don’t want to waste a single crumb. The colours have a subtle, metallic shimmer that’s just lovely. They stick to the waterline like nobody’s business. Worth every penny. Just think of all the money you’ll save never buying a shitty eye pencil ever again!

Coming very soon: A freaking VIDEO how to put on your pretty new eyeliner and keep it there! Plus: Um, how do I get this shit OFF now?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.

You know those days when life has worn you down, and you have to attend a social function in the evening and you are SO not feeling it? You feel lumpen/bloated/zitty/tired/ill, and everything in your closet seems to mock you. Every garment seems hell-bent on making you look like the least-cute version of yourself that you could possibly be. That dress is stupid and too young for you. Those sandals pinch your toes. The waistband of those pants only feels good about twice a year, right after a case of the flu. Long story short, you’d like to curl up on the couch with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and watch something asinine. But no! You must venture into the cruel world, where you’re sure everyone will look better than you and be having way more fun.

Chin up, little bunny. When life hands you lemons, tell those lemons to fuck off. My fashion advice for when you’re just not feeling it is simply this: Go tough.

“Going tough” means giving up on pretty, and working with the bitchiest, rockinest look you can get away with. You’ll feel more comfortable for starters, and you’ll hopefully project an attitude that suggests you’re so cool, you just couldn’t be bothered to dress up—while still looking foxy as hell. And that’s infinitely preferable to having pinched toes and a sour expression all evening. Who knows, you might even end up enjoying yourself!

Wearing “Casual Tough”:

If the occasion is just drinks, a launch, or a gig, go with jeans that you love and feel good in, although the darker and slimmer the better. Add a rock t-shirt, a masculine-cut tank top, or an untucked button-down in any colour, as long as it’s black or white. Converse All-Stars, lace-up boots, or any heavy soled footwear complete the look. Bare feet are totally tough, but flip-flops never are. Try not to carry a purse if you can manage it. We’re going for off-duty rock star here.

Icons of casual tough: Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde

Wearing “Dressy Tough”:

When you’ve got to look a bit more pulled-together, the goal is still to look like you don’t really give a shit. “Underdressed” is usually something I avoid, but here, it’s the whole point. Keep the jeans if you can get away with it. Black cigarette pants can also work, but don’t wear them with a top that makes you look like you’re part of the catering staff. A leather or jean jacket is wonderful here, as is a black turtleneck or a Hanes white t-shirt. Skip the jewellery, save for a big silver cuff, a man’s watch, or a chunky ring or two. Hold the gold! If you can stand it, wear wedges or boots with a heel—the highest and meanest-looking you can manage. Nobody ever looked like they could kick ass in a pair of ballet flats.

Dressy tough icons: Kate Moss, Joan Jett

Makeup: You’re looking to strike a balance here between looking like you don’t care and not actually caring. Do something simple but bold, and pick one thing to focus on--lips or eyes. My decision-making process goes like this: If I’m going to be eating or drinking a lot (no comment), I go with the eyes. Take a black eyeliner pencil and line around the entire eye. It’s okay if you half-ass it, because you should immediately smudge the heck out of it with a finger or a q-tip or something. You want to look like maybe you haven’t taken it off since yesterday (you animal, you). Lips are easy—go red or don’t bother. This requires that you own, enjoy, and feel confident applying and wearing red lipstick. If you don’t, we can work on that later.

You’re done. Shove a couple twenties in your pockets, flip your head upside down, mess up your roots, and get the hell out of there. Everyone will think you’re super cool and you can get away with either sulking in the corner or being a loud, obnoxious drunk. Ladies’ choice, bitches!

You asked for it.

Welcome. So yeah, this is a blog about a bunch of things related to shopping, and fashion, and “beauty” (by which I mean the construction of standardized ideals of beauty through the application of makeup—woo-hoo!). I hope you enjoy reading it, even if you’re not the sort of person who gives a toss about any of this stuff—and I certainly welcome contrary opinions. What I hope to do here is illustrate that a person who enjoys these pursuits isn’t necessarily young, or stupid, or wealthy, or superficial, or a victim of the patriarchy. I don’t think I’m any of those things. Okay, well maybe a little bit superficial. They don’t call me Fancy Lady for nothin’.

In the meantime, your suggestions would go a long way to making this whole project more interesting. What do you want to read about? How to put on eyeliner that doesn’t look like you let a four-year-old do it? The very best stuff to buy at the drugstore? Product reviews? How to put together million-dollar outfits that cost $9.75? I am utterly at your service.

Fancy xo