I’m a huge fan of all things Jezebel, but one of my favorite features (other than Fine Lines) on the Gawker-owned womanisty blog is Sephora Spy, in which an anonymous Sephora “cast member” (under the nom de plume “Jasmine”) gives makeup addicts like yours truly the naked truth about everything from how to get rid of cystic acne (spoiler: it’s hard!) to whether or not you can actually sleep in Bare Minerals (verdict: you can!). I love Sephora. I know it’s sort of a scam, because almost everything they sell there has a much cheaper drug store equivalent, but I don’t care. I’m an irrational girl that way.
I’m not actually that big of a makeup wearer, per se. I’m not particularly adventurous with makeup, just like I’m not particularly adventurous with clothes, which is why I own, like, one thing from MAC and it’s nail polish (it is pretty awesome nail polish, though, and I’ve already decided that my summer polish is going to be from Heatherette for MAC). (Note: For any makeup novices–or boys–reading this blog, MAC is a cosmetic company known for very dramatic, high intensity color schemes, the sort of stuff that looks pretty good in, say, a MAC ad or when you’re high on E in the club, but not so much in real life. Click the link to see what I mean.) But, like with clothes, I like high-quality basics, but while near-poverty has brought my Banana Republic addiction to a screeching halt, I still invest in sort of expensive cosmetics. This does not mean that I just waltz into Sephora every weekend like I used to and pick out something interesting to try–I really can’t afford that. But I do have a stable of products that I MUST HAVE available to me at all times. Allow me to bore you with what they are:
- Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2: Some people think this is sort of gross, but I don’t wash my face, like, ever. My skin is WAY too dry for that shit. When I step out of the shower, I have about 60-90 seconds to launch into my skincare routine before I completely dry out and feel like I’m covered in scales. Ew, gross, right? Sorry. But it’s the truth. Clinique has a very specific three-step facial skincare system, but I skip Step 1 (the soap) because of the aforementioned dryness and go right to Step 2, which is the toner. Don’t let the word “lotion” in the product name fool you–this is toner. It’s kind of like astringent (did anyone ever use Sea Breeze as a kid? I totally did, ruined my skin for years but that’s what all the cool girls were using), but way less abrasive, which is good because in addition to my skin being really dry, it’s also really sensitive. I discovered a long time ago that I cannot use any sort of perfumed lotion on my legs because they will feel like they’re on fire. Anyway, the toner (applied reasonably all over the face and neck with cotton balls) removes any lingering makeup, dirt, and, most importantly, dry skin from my face and primes it for moisturizer. I cannot live without this stuff–believe me, I’ve tried. It was a disaster.
- Clinique Superdefense Triple-Action Moisturizer SPF 25 – Normal to Dry Skin: Step 3 in the Clinique skincare system is a moisturizer, the iconic yellow Dramatically Different allergen and fragrance free kind, which I used religiously in high school and college but which, at the end of the day, I had to admit wasn’t heavy enough for my dry skin. I switched to Superdefense (which is twice as expensive, if not more) after using a sample I got during Bonus Time at Macy’s. This moisturizer is pretty intense–even I can’t use the super dry version, because even I have oily spots on my skin and they would probably erupt in zits if I used that formula–and I love the fact that it has such a high SPF in it, since I burn easily. Makeup experts always tell you to wear sunscreen under your moisturizer during the summer, but I can’t do that because of the aforementioned dry skin and the fact that I fucking hate sunscreen like the devil, and this combined with my foundation’s built in SPF (I’m getting there, I promise) seems to keep sunburn at bay (at least with regards to my face). I also love Clinique’s Repairware Night Treatment, based on samples I’ve gotten and used, but it is even more expensive than Superdefense and I can’t afford two really expensive moisturizers, but if you can I say go for it.
- Bare Escentuals i.d. bareMinerals Mineral Foundation SPF 15: I heard about this product on Jolie in NYC about a year and a half ago and bought the Fairly Light/Light starter kit, which was a really great investment. It came with two trial powders (I decided to stick with the Light), three brushes–the large kabuki brush, the flawless application brush, and the concealer brush–a pot of Warmth (since you use it sparingly, this pot will actually last you forever–I still have mine and it’s almost full), the bareVitamins primer (which I used up but never replaced–I don’t think you need it if you moisturize, but that’s my opinion), and the ever-popular (and love my life) Mineral Veil, which works so well. I can’t rave enough about bareMinerals. Because of the skin dryness, liquid foundation has always been a bane of mine. The mineral foundation (I’ve never tried any drug store varieties, FYI) is weightless, full coverage without looking like makeup, and the Mineral Veil seriously makes your skin look perfect. I think that the flawless application brush is pretty useless–I use it as a blush brush–but the kabuki is great and so is the concealer brush, for covering blemishes and under-eye darkness. I also own some Bare Escentuals eye shadows, but I find them a little difficult to use because they’re so loose, although I do love the colors.
- NARS Blush – Orgasm: I am for sure not the first person to rave about this blush. It’s considered universally flattering, regardless of skin color, and though it’s pricey ($25) I consider it worth every penny. I also adore the corresponding Orgasm Lip Gloss, which is also pricey ($24), but long-lasting without being disgustingly sticky and is equally flattering on everybody. I apply this to the apples of my cheeks (whilst smiling, of course), then sweep whatever remains on the brush over my T-zone and chin to achieve sort of a more uniform coloring effect. It’s hard to go overboard with the Orgasm because it’s so subtle, but it is a little shimmery so be aware of the disco effect.
- Lip Balm: I don’t always wear lip gloss (and I never wear lipstick anymore), but I always have some sort of balm on or around me. I favor Burt’s Bees or Smith’s Rosebud Salve (which I have with me at work), but really anything’s good, ChapStick or whatever. I also really love Murad’s Energizing Pomegranate Lip Protector SPF 15, but it’s a splurge ($16).
- Lip Gloss: I already talked about NARS Orgasm lip gloss, but NARS makes some great lip lacquers, too. My favorite is Baby Doll, which the Sephora website describes as “cotton candy pink” but is very subtle and glossy when you put it on. I also love Philosophy’s Big Mouth glosses, both the bright pink and pinky-neutral one, but unfortunately they’ve discontinued the shades I own and replaced them with these, which I guess are all right as substitutes. What I like about those glosses is that they’re even less sticky than the NARS (read: not at all) and are very subtle, but with a little bit of shimmer. I’d like to try Philosophy’s The Supernatural someday, too. There are so many lip glosses on the market, you really just have to try them on and see which ones you love and which ones you wouldn’t let near your lips again.
- Eyelash Curler: My eyelash curler is from a drug store like a hundred years ago, but I hear Shu Uemura makes a really good one for $19. There’s also this weird mini version for two dollars less, but I don’t really understand how it’s practical. If eyelash curlers scare you, you’re not alone–my friend refuses to use one, or even let one near her, because they freak her out so much. But, really, they’re harmless, given that you know how to take it away from your eye only AFTER you release your eyelashes.
- Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black: Lady mags love to talk about how Mabelline Great Lash mascara is, like, the cat’s pajamas, and I did use it for years, but…meh. It’s all right. Some people really hate it, though. I branched out a year or so ago with Diorshow and I can safely say that I’m in love. Its only drawback is that it only comes in three colors, one of which is Azure Blue which, like, why? Maybe because it was made for the runway? Whatever. Black is perfect for my life, and there’s a Chestnut option for those who prefer brown mascara.
- NARS Eyeliner in Black Moon: I just learned how to use eyeliner, like, ten minutes ago when my cousin Emma and Aunt Christine were in New York. The thing about the NARS eyeliner is that it’s so smooth and easy to use, even for stupid novices like myself. The drawback is that it does come off kind of quickly, so if you don’t want to be a hot tranny mess (TM Christian Siriano) you do have to take it along with you and reapply if it smudges. But otherwise it’s fabulous.
- Nailpolish: I already talked about my MAC nail polish, the name of which I cannot remember and which they don’t make anymore, but I think Esse nail polish deserves a mention, since I really love it. Wicked, a dark, DARK reddish-brown, is my favorite at the moment.