Before I post this, I leave you with a disclaimer.  I’m being extremely wordy today.  Partly because I still feel sort of puke-y and partly because I’m taken a lortab which has made me all floaty.  It has, however, stopped the tantrum my back was threatening to throw. 

Today I am writing about make-up.  I’m writing about make-up for several reasons, the most important one being that Sara asked me to AGES AGO in this post and the other being that I am currently sitting up at the front desk where there is nothing to do.  I mean, yes, I do have things I could be doing if I were only at my own computer where I have my files.  But, given that it is one of my duties to cover for the receptionist on her Monday lunch break and I can’t bring my computer with me, I think my boss will just have to deal with my lack of productivity. 

Anyway, let’s talk about make-up.  The first thing I ought to warn you about is that I don’t really like wearing make-up (except when I do, which is usually when I’m going out or when I feel sick and want to make myself feel better).  That hasn’t stopped me from amassing a huge collection of it (my thought process usually goes something like:

Girly-me:  Oooh, shimmery wasabi-paste coloured eyeshadow! 

Rational-me:  You hate putting on make-up.

Girly-me:  … *pouts*

Rational-me:  When are you ever going to wear it?

Girly-me:  But it’s sparkly!

Rational-me:  *sigh*  *buys eyeshadow*)

So, it’s obvious that I’m a bit like a raven or a magpie when it comes to make-up.  I don’t really have much use for the sparklies but I sure want to line my nest with them anyway. 

However, let’s pretend for a moment that I’m one of those girls who never leaves home without make-up, even to make a quick run out to Walgreens.  Personally, the first thing I wish most of America would learn about make-up is that, even if you have poor/blemished/scarred skin, heavy foundation doesn’t actually make it look better.  Trust me, people CAN tell the difference between your skin with and without make-up.  Foundation isn’t a magic putty that can fill the cracks and pores and magically smoothe your imperfections away.  You will just end up looking like you have smeared yourself with vaguely skin-coloured goop.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of tinted moisturizers for everyone — there are few people who couldn’t benefit from some extra moisture and most of them have an SPF of at least 15.  My favourites are by MAC, Stila and Shiseido but, if you don’t want to shell out for one of those, you can mix your own.  It’s as simple as it sounds — put some of your moisturizer on your fingertips, add a few drops of your standard foundation, mix them up in your hands and smooth over your face.  It may take a while to get used to if you’ve always relied on stronger coverage but honestly, nothing can beat the sheer, natural look.  If you need a bit more coverage, go for a very-well blended concealer.  To smooth things out or, if you’re going for a nighttime look, try a light sweep of MAC’s mineralize skin finish applied with a kabuki brush. 

Next, let’s move on to blush.  It’s my personal belief that EVERYONE can benefit from a little bit of colour (and this is coming from someone who was always made fun of for having a lot of natural colour) even if all you’re doing is evening it out.  Personally, I’m a fan of liquid, gel or cream blushes as opposed to powders.  For gels, I always recommend Tarte’s cheekstain (I go with Tipsy and Tickled but frequently recommend Flush and Blushing Bride).  If we’re talking liquids (and it’s probably what I use most frequently) it’s all about Benefit’s Benetint for me.  I’ve never met someone who couldn’t rock that shade.  Just be careful and apply using your fingertips, NOT the brush that comes in the bottle — the brush only works if you’re using it as a lipstain.  I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I really like MAC’s blushcremes (I have Cheery, Lilicent, Fancy Ray, Uncommon, Blossoming and Sweet William and I really want Brit Wit) and cream colour base (in Virgin Isle, Fawntastic, Tint and Improper Copper) over any other cream blush (although I do like Stila’s convertible colour creams – in Lillium – and NARS creme blush – in Penny Lane or Cactus Flower).  Now I know that experts argue about the right way to apply blush and will give you intricate patterns to follow depending on your face shape — my trick is to rub in circles with your fingertips over the apples of your cheeks, work most of the rest in along your cheekbones and swipe the remaining down towards your jawline.  That may not be the “right way” to do it but it always works for me.  I’d say that if you’re going to go for a powder, go for one with several different shades mixed (something like CARGO’s Suedeblush — Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are my tried-and-trues) so you get a more natural, less streaky look.  Use a soft angled blush brush for the best results. 

Now I get to go over my absolute favourite thing about make-up — eyeshadows!  I’m not about to tell you that it should look natural or that you should wear four perfectly coordinating shades on the lid, crease, corner and up to the browbone.  Let’s face it — eyeshadow is basically unnecessary.  If you’re going to do something unnecessary, you should at least have fun with it.  I like to choose a fun shade that will highlight your eye colour but still look good on its own.  For my own eyes (grey-blue, silvery when they’re light and steel-y when they’re dark) my best shades are golds and coppers, pinks, yellows, oranges, burgundies and apricots, wasabi and olive green and all shades of purple.  I can wear basically any neutral.  Fashion-magazines would tend to tell me that blues should do wonders for my eyes but they don’t — that’s where you have to take your skin tone into consideration.  In general, warm eyeshadow tones will compliment yellow-based, olive and medium to dark skin tones and cooler tones and lighter shades will generally work better on blue or pink based skin tones.  Of course, that’s only a generalization and YMMV.  Generally, my favourite way to apply eyeshadow is to have two complimentary shades on the lid, say a lavender and a light pink — I’ll take one of the shades and apply it on the inner half of the eyelid and work it all the way through the crease.  Then I’ll take the second shade and blend it into the outer half of the eyelid under the crease, being careful not to make the section where the shades meet obvious.  Brand-wise, most of my eyeshadows and pigments are MAC (I won’t irritate you all with a list of the shades I own and the ones I lust after unless someone asks) but I do dabble with Urban Decay, The Body Shop, L’ancome, Clinique, Stila, CARGO and NARS).  I might go with a thin line of eyeliner (usually MAC gel fluidline, applied with a very thin brush, usually one of their gold or grey shades but occasionally a khaki green, dark purple or dark brown) along the top of the lashline or just the outer third of the lower lid.  Honestly, I’m not a fan of how most women seem to wear eyeliner (that awful, thick line of black either around the whole eye which just makes it appear smaller or right across the top of the lashline) — I’d rather see most people go without.  The one thing I hate skipping, however, is mascara.  A light coat of mascara on the top lashes can make a world of difference.  Unless you have exceptionally long bottom lashes (like I do), I’d skip the lower lashes altogether.  My favourites are Dior Show, Clinique’s Naturally Glossy (nothing like a classic), MAC’s plushlash or Benefit’s Get Bent (I love the angled brush — it gives me so much more control).  I tend to think most women, unless they have naturally dark hair, look better in a dark brown mascara rather than black but that’s just personal preference. 

Next step: The perfect pout.  I truly believe that there’s nothing better than Smith’s Rosebud Salve.  I’ve got extremely dry lips and this stuff will keep them soft and smooth for hours before I have to reapply.  A pot lasts FOREVER, even when you’re having it perform double-duty as an emergency moisturizer.  No matter what else I go for on my lips whether it’s a MAC lipglass, lipstick or lipgelee (I can’t play favourites — right now I have Sashimi Mimi, Giddy, Overtly Plum and Entwined lipsticks and lipglasses in Adventurous, Love Nectar, Flowerosophy, Sunny Boy and Pop Mode in my purse), a Stila lipglaze (try Apricot for the perfect barely-there nude or Guava for a pinkish-brown) CARGO gloss (seriously, these are fabulous – my favourite duos are Bella Bella, Machu Picchu and San Fran) or L’ancome juicy tube (favourites include Bolole, Hallucination, Exquisite, Honey Violet and Twilight Pleasure) always start with a layer of rosebud salve and top with a dot of it for shine. 

Just for fun, let me throw in one more section.  These are my favourite products-that-are-not-really-make-up-but-are-among-my-must-haves.  These are the things that I really like having with me at all times, just in case.  First off, let me give a shout-out to Benefit’s Boo Boo Zap!  I don’t have much trouble with my skin, but for the occasional zits, this is perfect.  A dab of this and the swelling’s going down within minutes with the redness following right behind.  Next up is Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood.  This light balm claims to fill fine lines.  I don’t know much about that but I do know that it provides some emergency moisture and makes my skin feel like silk and smell wonderful, plus it tucks right in the small side pocket of my purse.  Third is Urban Decay’s eyeshadow primer.  It comes in a cute little purple container and smooths on easily — even better, it really does keep eyeshadow from smearing and running, even in the heat and humidity.  Fourth is Lush’s Flying Fox temple balm (which is, unfortunately, being discontinued).  Smooth a bit of this on your wrists and behind your ears — I find that the jasmine really does calm me down and doubles as a solid perfume.  Finally, I never leave home without a bottle of Clarins UV Plus — I’m a bit of a sunscreen freak and this is the perfect one for me, it’s extremely lightweight and doesn’t clog your pores. 

Wow.  Somehow, I think I may have missed my calling by working anywhere other than at a fashion magazine.  I could certainly make a living writing make-up reviews. 

p.s. Don’t forget your nails – glass files are your friend and softly rounded, short nails with a light, barely-there pinkish brown always look well groomed – or your eyebrows.  I could go on forever about eyebrows.  After spending years plucking mine into oblivion, I’ve discovered that the best shape really is thicker and more natural.  I go in for a wax every month or so to keep the arch in just the right place and pluck every other day for maintenance.  There is nothing more flattering to your face than the perfect set of eyebrows.