A few of my favorite things

I am going to deviate from my typical attempting-to-be-serious-and-thoughtful fare and take a page from the Cool Lady Blogger (CLB) playbook here. CLBs love to make lists of their favorite products and then tell you why you should buy them. Unlike many CLBs, however, I was not paid or asked to write any of these reviews. I just like these things and use them every day.

Something that I used to keep secret that I am not keeping secret anymore, Interwebs, is that I really like makeup. (Feminists, recoil!) I love playing with makeup. I love shopping for it, even though I am very cheap and could never justify spending $65 on a tinted moisturizer, for example. The small irony is that I actually don’t wear a lot of makeup. But I love it just the same. So, from a now-outed cosmetics devotee, here are the things that I have found and loved.

Aveda’s Flax Seed Aloe Strong Hold Gel

Aveda’s flax seed aloe strong hold gel, $16.

I am a fervent evangelist for this product. I have been using it for more than 10 years now (just like my mom) and I will stockpile it like a crazy person if Aveda ever stops making it. If you have curly hair like I do, you also probably have your “magic product” that you can’t live without. This is mine. Most products marketed toward people with curly hair are greasy and not very strong. A nickel-sized amount of this stuff goes a long way. I use it every other day, right after I shower, and scrunch it through wet hair. Without it, I wouldn’t be presentable in public.

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers, $5.

My mom’s store started selling these lipsticks from Burt’s Bees and ever since then I’ve been trying to collect them all. (College roommates routinely teased me for my weird, sprawling collection of these identical-looking yellow tubes.) But they are the best, and here’s why: Lipstick dries out your mouth and makes you feel chalky and heavy. These lip shimmers glide on smoothly, add a perfect dab of color, AND feel light and refreshing–producing the cooling effect that Burt’s Bees traditional lip balm has. I haven’t found a shade that I don’t like and I will probably be using these forever and foisting them on my friends. Favorite shades: Rhubarb (nice deep pink); Fig (my go-to fall color); Peony (very light effervescent pink); Papaya (rusty); and Raisin (deep red).

MAC Studio Fix Powder + Foundation

MAC Studio Fix Powder + Foundation, $27.

A pressed but simultaneously lightweight powder that magically smooths and finishes your complexion–and keeps the shine away for a long time. For $27, this stuff lasts me for about five or six months, and I think it’s totally worth it. I don’t like wearing foundation, so this is a wonderful compromise. Brush it on just like you would powder and you’re done for the day.

Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda Concealer Palette

Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda Concealer, $10.

Concealer is a bummer. I wish I still didn’t have to use it… but I do. And when you do need it, I recommend this set by Sonia Kashuk (at Target). Your skin tone changes with the seasons and your eye area is usually yellower than the rest of your face and so one color of concealer usually can’t cut it. This is where Sonia Kashuk comes in. This set also lasts me for months and months. Definitely worth the $10.

Boots No. 7 Mineral Blush

Boots No. 7 Mineral Blush, $10.

I looked for lightweight, non-glittery blush for what feels like ages (even though it was probably only a year), and I finally found what I was looking for with Boots No. 7’s mineral blush (sold at Target). Best blush I’ve ever used and I’ve tried dozens and dozens. Will never try another one for as long as they keep making this stuff.

Benetint by Benefit

Benetint, $29.

While shopping for wedding makeup, I knew that I had to find a lip stain for the big day. Guion flatly refuses to kiss me, ever, if I have anything on my lips (even chapstick makes him wary). We were advised to try Benefit’s well-known and widely lauded stain Benetint and so we did. It is wonderful. It is the perfect pink color and it lasted all day long. And best of all, Guion would kiss me at the altar! This reminds me that I need to save up and buy some more…

Essie nail polish

Essie nail polish, $8.

My friend Courtney is the queen of nail polish and she once gave me sage advice about it: If you like to paint your nails, buy high-quality nail polish. One bottle of good nail polish is worth more than 30 bottles of cheap stuff, which applies in globs and streaks and chips off in about three minutes. I finally took that lesson to heart and threw out all of my cheap polish. I’ve been exclusively buying Essie–gradually, slowly–and it is definitely worth it. It just makes me happy.

Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap

Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, $4.

A bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s by the kitchen sink even makes doing dishes a pleasant experience. Favorite scents: Lemon verbena, geranium, and basil.

Whew. Is this what real CLBs feel like?

Week 3: Red lipstick

In honor of my sister Grace, I am imposing a set of weekly challenges on myself. For 12 weeks, I will attempt a different “challenge” each week–to do one thing every day for seven days, ranging from serious to silly. At the end of each week, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Red lipstick and a new haircut. Eek.

When I was 16, I routinely gave the announcements at my church. We went to a wannabe mega-church then and so giving the announcements made me feel like a big deal. I had to wear a headset mic* and make sure my face was powdered and my tone was smooth. One morning, I decided I was going to wear red lipstick to give the announcements. I was “backstage,” waiting for my cue before I went on under the harsh lights. A man who worked in production came up to me. “Hey Abby,” he said, and then he looked intently at my face. “What are you wearing?” “Um,” I was startled. “A skirt?” He shook his head. “No, are you wearing lipstick? Red lipstick? Don’t you think you’re too young for that?” I was mortified. I didn’t answer him. As soon as he walked away, I grabbed a tissue from a nearby table and wiped it all off. My teenage pride was sorely offended.

I don’t know if there’s really a moral to this story. Maybe I was “too young” to wear red lipstick, but I don’t think I am now. I really like red lipstick, but I’ve been afraid of it ever since this incident. Part of my aim with these weekly challenges is to conquer mental fears and so, here we have the silly week 3: Wearing red lipstick every day for a week.

I don’t actually have a huge collection of red lipstick and I don’t really buy costly make-up products, as you can see, but here’s what I used:

  • Revlon lipstick in Ravish Me Red. I really love this shade–I wanted one with an orange-red tint–and this stuff is not playing around. It lasted for at least four or five hours. It did dry my lips out considerably, however.
  • Lancome lipstick in Fashion Crave Framboise (I don’t think they carry this anymore. Heh. It’s probably old.) This is not technically red, but I mixed it with some of the other shades on some days that I didn’t want to be screaming BRIGHT RED.
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer: Merlot. I can’t say enough good about Burt’s Bees’ products. I’ve been using their lip shimmers for years and I think they’re perfect. Inexpensive, light, and all-natural, they last fairly long and have great pigments.
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer: Raisin.

I’m always inspired by how great Kate from For Me, For You looks with red lips and was delighted to find her make-up review post recently. I definitely want to try MAC products, because the reigning women of the Blogosphere seem to stand by them pretty loyally.

WHAT I LEARNED:

  • When wearing red lips, tread very lightly with the rest of your makeup, else you look like a circus performer. This was a good exercise for me, because I tend to be a big blush girl.
  • I think I will always be the staunchest Burt’s Bees devotee. I just like the way their product looks and wears, even more than the expensive stuff (like the $30 Lancome, which was definitely a Christmas gift).
  • I really like playing with makeup. If I were rich, I’d probably spend an ungodly amount on makeup. I don’t really wear a lot of it–my makeup bag is quite small–but I love to experiment with new things. It’s like painting! On your face! Guion was surprised when I told him this and didn’t really understand when I tried to explain my enjoyment of makeup. But that’s because he’s a spoilsport and won’t let me put some mascara on his obscenely long and luxurious eyelashes…
  • I can wear red lipstick! I CAN!

Coming next: A week of reading and studying Japanese!