Sunday, January 18, 2009

make me up.

I'm kind of obsessed with makeup. I don't wear it every day, but I try to at least wear some blush and mascara when I have the time. The key to purchasing is to have a strategy, because makeup is often ridiculously overpriced and once you buy something, there's usually no going back.

When I get the hankering for a product (a foundation brush, for instance), I go to Makeupalley first. Registration is free, and there you can read hundreds of reviews on thousands of products. They cover everything from cosmetics, tools and hair products, so it's a good all-purpose beauty site. The reviews can be sorted categorically or by brand (or both), but many brands make pages of products, so you can choose to have results arranged by "best value", "top picks" or "most reviews".

Another helpful aspect is that each reviewer can choose to make a "skin profile", so you can get an idea of how different skin types respond to different products. Foundation in particular can be extremely temperamental depending on how oily or dry your skin is.

Once you make a short list of products you'd like to try, go to a department store (or Sephora, or Ulta) with a clean face and ask for a sample application. I've done this at Nordstrom and even snooty places like Neiman Marcus, and as long as you seem like you're keen on eventually buying, they're pretty accomodating. With foundation (and other products), it's not just about how it initially looks, it's also about lasting power and skin reaction. You also can't rely on department store lighting alone, so it's best to go in the daytime so you can see how everything looks in natural light (and other types of lighting).

It's sort of a long, annoying process, but I'm extremely picky with just about everything, so I find it works for me. Here are the products I adore:

1. Primer: Yves Saint Laurent Matt Touch Primer

My skin tends to get oily within a few hours, especially during the summer. This little product amazingly combats that while helping foundation go on smoothly. It has a silicon base so I suppose it also fills in fine lines, but I'm too young for those (I hope!). Its main virtue, which I can't stress enough, is the fact that it prevents the face from getting shiny. I'm talking day-after-you-forgot-to-wash-your-face-before-bed-after-coming-home-from-a-disgusting-dance-party effective.

However, I always recommend sampling first. I googled the primer to figure out its full name and found this review, where the author recommends "Make Up For Ever HD Primer" instead.

2. Foundation: Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation

This foundation has been named the best oil-free foundation on InStyle's Best Beauty Buys list for as long as I can remember. The colors are yellow-based, which means they match skin tones more closely (supposedly), but there really is a wide range of colors. It's very sheer and glowy. The proper shade will match your skin but make it look not just uniform, but healthy. I've gotten compliments on this foundation from people my age and little old ladies. It's matte, but not too matte. It's glowy, but not dewy or greasy. You can use it sparingly for sheer coverage or layer it without it ever looking cakey. My one complaint is the fact that though it's oil-free, my skin still gets oily while using it. Thus the primer above. I also find that blotting with a kleenex before applying powder soaks up any oils sitting on your skin from moisturizer or foundation.

3. Foundation Brush: Ecotools Foundation Brush

So I never thought brushes mattered much. I just used my fingers like every other non-celebrity and had no problems with it. But while watching makeup tutorials one day (I have a lot of free time, you guys!), I noticed the woman using a foundation brush and raving about how it leaves the skin with an airbrushed quality. So I went to my trusty Makeupalley and found that the highest rated foundation brush retailed for about $5 at Walgreens. I was skeptical but intrigued, so I decided to buy it. It felt weird at first painting your face like a canvass, but it really does make a difference. I always found sponges wasteful (because you're constantly throwing them away but also, because they absorb much of your foundation), but this just needs a little soap and water after each use and it's fine. I've never purchased a super expensive brush, but from what I've manhandled in stores, the quality is just as good as brushes that retail for $50 or more. It's also made from synthetic fibers rather than animal hair.

4. Translucent Powder (tie): Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder and Shu Uemura Face Powder Matte in Colorless

They're both velvety and really, honest-to-god translucent -- you won't look like you just put corn starch on your face. They both minimize pores and set your makeup. They do a good job with shine control, though I would give the edge to Laura Mercier's. As always, loose powder can be a pain to apply. I still don't know how to reduce spilling powder everywhere, but I just clean up after application. Both have very pretty, minimalist packaging. Both are also too expensive for simple powder.

5. Blush: Laura Mercier Face Tint in Apricot

I think this product has been discontinued. I bought it from Nordstrom, but it isn't widely available anywhere else, so they might be getting rid of their last stock. It's a translucent loose powder, but a little goes a long way and it's easy to blend. The color is extremely flattering and was developed to "recreate a natural blush". The color is apricot without being too orangey. It's not like Nars's Orgasm, which I find to be too beach bronzey for me. It works on a variety of skin tones and is shimmery without a trace of glitter.

6. Mascara: Yves Saint Laurent 'Volume Effet Faux Cils'

My lashes are pathetic. They're short and fine and I'm a child of the 80s. I love big, thick hair, whether it's attached to my scalp or my eyes. So I OD on hairspray and mascara. This stuff is like crack. The 'faux cils' means fake lashes, and it really does deliver. I'm generally not a fan of very "wet" mascaras (like Maybelline's Great Lash) because they clump easily, but this one is worth it. I just wipe off all the excess, on the bottle and on a kleenex, and then apply layer by layer until my lashes are long and thick. I guess some people prefer modest eyelashes, but I love the lush, doey look of big ones. This stuff gives you the illusion of good genes without a hint of the spider effect.

7. Eyeliner: Mac Fluidline

I love a good, simple cat-eye. Liquid liner is a bitch. I thought it impossible, until I found Fluidline. It's a gel liner that is best applied with an angled brush (I use the 266), and blotting the brush on the cap of the liner makes applying it a cinch. Watching this video on how to do the perfect cat-eye helps a lot, too.

So, that's my makeup post. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd post pictures of the products on me. Maybe someday!

{image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b, 5, 6, 7}


KATLIN said...

I'm hopeless when it comes to makeup and am always super scared to try new things... plus my skin is really sensitive. I use a tinted moisturizer by Dermalogica and Maybelline mascara, sometimes Nars bronzer in Laguna, but not too often because I hate covering my face in lots of things (even though that's only two!). Maybe I'll try out that primer and foundation though! I've been looking for something with more coverage... Thanks! :)

clarafier said...

i finally decided to splurge on expensive lipstick yesterday, and got the wrong color. fabulous. this is why we can't have nice things!