It's true: my schedule is such that after heading out the door of my apartment, I only have time for a quick lipstick touch-up (at most!), often in the back of a cab between meetings. It's taken a lot of smudged eyeliner and feathered lipstick to finally sift through mediocrity and find my tried-and-true must haves. Continue...Around the age of 12 or 13, I became rather obsessive about makeup. As a tween experiencing the beginnings of the break-out phase, I bought myself a pan of foundation from CoverGirl and ended up having a painful, embarrassing allergic reaction all over my face, (and quickly discovered that I was allergic to a lot of the ingredients in drugstore makeup). I learned my lesson and started saving up for the fancier stuff, taking my (modest) allowance for the week to the mall and buying myself a pot of eyeshadow at M.A.C., (I vividly remember my first M.A.C. purchase; it was a soft, metallic rose gold shadow called Jest.) In the decade+ since, I've taken my hand at more beauty products than I'd honestly like to admit, but I've certainly developed a familiarity with what works and what works overtime. My daily routine typically happens only once - with little opportunity for reapplication or touch-ups, so I when I head out the door, I need to be sure my face makeup is there to stay!
I tend to spend only 5-10 minutes doing my makeup on a typical day, unless I have a shoot or am going to be on video -- then I spend a little more time. So, I know it can be done in a time crunch, to boot!
Clockwise, from top: Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream, Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics OCC Tint, Benefit High Beam, Make Up For Ever HD Primer, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics OCC Skin Primer, Shiseido Future Solutions LX Eye Cream, Urban Decay Primer Potion, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Conceal, M.A.C. Cosmetics Sculpting Cream (times two!)
Eliminating (or at the very least, reducing) the appearance of dark circles is the biggest priority when it comes to my beauty routine, so getting a good foundation going and evening out my skin tone are the first steps in getting my face on! Shiseido's eye cream is without a doubt the best I have used, and just a dab under my eyes each morning and night instantly brightens my face. I then alternate between the rest of the products, but concealer is usually the next step. I've waxed poetic about OCC's Conceal before, but trust me - it's the best! Conceal comes in 12-different shades (6 red-based, 6 yellow-based), and can easily be blended to create a custom match. Next, I either opt for a primer (Make Up For Ever on days where I am on video, and OCC Skin Primer for photoshoot days) and follow up with foundation. On those more intense makeup days, MAC Sculpting Creams are essential for a bit of light contouring. BB Cream is another recent addition to my life, and my go-to on quick makeup days; they do the job of toning, moisturizing, priming, and giving a dewy finish all in one step. After using the entirety of a Dr. Jart V7 BB, I've swapped over Dr. Jart Water Fuse -- and it is perfect for adding a bit more moisture to my routine for the cold months ahead.
Clockwise, from top: Too Faced Lash Injection, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Eyeliner, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Tint, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Loose Color Concentrates and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Cream Color Concentrates, M.A.C. Haute & Naughty Lash, M.A.C. Eyelash Curler, M.A.C. Kohl Eyeliner Pencil, M.A.C. Angled Brush (from "Perfectly Plush" brush set), M.A.C. Fluidline Blacktrack
Even more so than my dependency on lipstick, I feel naked without a stroke of mascara or a bit of eyeliner brightening up (and waking up) my eyes. Without a doubt, Stila Stay All Day Eyeliner is my number one product in this set -- the rest is pretty interchanbeable. It is, hands down, the best liquid liner (with an easy-to-use felt tip!) I have ever, ever used - and if Stila ever decides to discontinue it, I'll probably cry a million tears. I'm not very loyal when it comes to mascara, though right now I'm partial to Too Faced Lash Injection, which I bought from Sephora in a "perfect cat eye" set (hated the liner it came with), and MAC Haute & Naughty. The former gives a long, natural look -- and the latter a thick, sulty look. A curler does wonders, too! While my daily makeup routine consists of only mascara, eyeliner, and a brow touch up (if I'm feeling fancy), I do occasionally go for a full eyeshadow look. I practically used to hoard eyeshadows, but these days I only bother with OCC's pigments and loose colors. Used with a bit of Urban Decay Primer Potion underneath, they stay put all day -- even their loose glitters don't budge. When was the last time you used a glittery shadow that didn't make your cheeks (and every other part of your face) also sparkly all day? Yikes. OCC is a win for me!
Clockwise, from top: Illamsqua Cream Blusher, theBalm Stainiac, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Loose Color Concentrate, M.A.C. Blush Brush (from "Perfectly Plush" brush set), NARS Orgasm, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar, M.A.C. Blush in Coygirl
Ah, another essential. Olive toned as I may be, I am pale -- and I always feel a little self conscious that I look like a zombie without a bit of rouge. I used to be terrified of cream blushes and stains (I hated Benetint, no matter how many praises I read of it), but I've finally learned how to use them properly -- and they're the perfect base for my 14+ hour days. I bought the Illamsqua mystery set from Sephora, and the Cream Blusher came with it -- in a shockingly bright red that I would probably never pick up. I dabbed 3 small dots of the color on each cheek and blended away and was impressed not only with the color, but how natural it looked. That or theBalm's Stainiac have become my daily base -- adding a swipe of powder (lately, MAC Coygirl) on top for extra oomph. You might be wondering why OCC Lip Tar is also in this group -- but simply, it's also an amazing blush. I apply it similarly to Illamsqua -- a couple of TINY dots - and blend, blend, blend.
Clockwise, from top: M.A.C. Girl About Town, M.A.C. Red, NARS Belle du Jour, Stila Long Wear Lip Color in Caprice, Too Faced Lip Insurance Primer, Fresh Sugar Lip Balm, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in NSFW and Psycho, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Brush
This should be pretty self explanatory. I'm rarely without a bold lip, and there's a world of color out there. But, if I haven't done it enough, let me sing the OCC Lip Tar gospel: this product is a total game changer. They're stocked in Sephora now, so if you have a chance to try it out, I highly recommend it. Here's the trick with lip tar: make sure your lips are totally bare. If you've put a balm on, wipe it off. Trust me. Then, squeeze a really really really itty bitty drop onto a lip brush. A little goes a long way when it comes to lip tar, and often, less is more. The color is totally opaque, so there's no reason to go heavy and layer it onto your lips a million times. It's unnecessary. Fill your lips in with the brush, et voila! You should have an opaque color that will stay put for a good 6-8 hours. If I'm going with a different brand for my lips, I always apply with Too Faced Lip Insurance underneath; it does what Urban Decay's Primer Potion does but for your lipstick. Even creamy lipsticks like MAC Girl About Town (one of my favorite pinks), goes strong for hours and hours with a swipe of lip insurance underneath. A touch of balm throughout the day keeps my lips soft and refreshes color.
Clockwise, from top: Anna Sui Hair Brush, Moroccan Oil Finish Strong Hairspray, Diptyque Volutes Eau de Parfum, Arrojo ReFinish Dry Shampoo, Caudelié Beauty Elixir, Dove Nourishing Oil Care, Make Up For Ever HD Kabuki BrushFinally, finishing touches! A longwear perfume is a pretty important element for me, and this winter, I'm all about Diptyque's Volutes. It's a rich, sultry fragrance that is the perfect complement (and alternative) to my usually floral scents. Regardless of what scent you choose, a parfum will have much longer wear than an eau de toilette; yes, they're more expensive, but for a reason! For my hair, I use Dove Hair Therapy which I apply to my damp hair before blow drying. Once it's all dry, I use Moroccan Oil Luminous Hair Spray and brush it through my 'do. Arrojo ReFinish Shampoo does the trick of adding extra volume (yes, to clean hair!). The goal for my hair is to have no frizz, no flyaways, and for my (heavily processed) locks to look shiny and healthy around the clock -- these are definitely the things that do it for me, more than any shampoo or conditioner combo could. A final blend with the kabuki brush, a spritz of beauty elixir, and I'm out the door!
TL;DR Version of the Below: ...But I'm a Feminist!
Of course, my relationship with makeup always feels a bit complicated. Since my early days of becoming a slave to undereye concealer and blackest-black mascara, I've developed a feminist awareness and forced myself to analyze what it means to apply makeup. I try to be conscious of what the beauty industry tells us, and remind myself that I don't actually need any of the products in my arsenal. (Really. I don't need you, lipstick! Didn't I prove that in my last post?) Still, the ritual of applying makeup and transforming myself into a character (or putting on my drag and unveiling a femme embodiment) have become as second nature as brushing my teeth or combing my hair. Getting here, though, has taken a bit of back-and-forth struggle and self analysis. I went through a phase where I used makeup to intentionally make myself less normatively attractive; I applied blue eyeshadow up to my brow bone (something that was fun and subversive for me then, but looking back, makes me cringe), and a thick coat of Margot-Tenenbaum-esque charcoal all the way around my eyes. I observed the way people in my family and community used makeup, too, and from my point of view it was often used to appear whiter or more westernized; being middle eastern, this was an image I couldn't get out of my head -- and I constantly questioned whether my own use of makeup was imitating the same. Suffice to say, makeup, and "beauty," is a complicated world -- but I don't think the serious social implications embedded in beauty culture should strip the fun out of makeup, either! At the end of the day, it is something to play with - and the empowering and transformative nature of makeup, making ourselves into who we want to be, can be a feminist act.
Disclaimer: Some of the products featured in this post were provided for consideration. I promise that this has had zero impact on what brands I have endorsed; they're all products I truly believe in.