On being bare-faced

Posted on November 21, 2014 under Thoughts

There has been a lot of proverbial ink spilled over women wearing makeup to hide who they really are or to trick men. I hope it’s no surprise that I think this is utter bullshit, for multiple reasons.

  1. I regularly wear dark purple lipstick or colourful eyeshadow. That is the opposite of hiding. That is saying, “LOOK AT THIS AWESOME LIPSTICK I BOUGHT.”
  2. Makeup, for me and many people, is self-expression, not self-repression.
  3. I sure as shit don’t wear makeup for men. Men can’t even tell when you’re wearing makeup. Once one of my male friends told another friend that she didn’t need makeup to be beautiful, and used me as an example of someone who looked good without makeup. I had on concealer, shimmery eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. There are stories all over the internet of men saying they like Kim Kardashian’s “natural” look. Yeah, nobody naturally has a smokey eye, dude.

But I think in our feminist outrage about self-expression and wearing what we want, we often forget that some people do wear makeup because they want to hide perceived “flaws”, or just because it makes them feel better. For every woman with thick winged liner and bright lips who even those “Kim K wears no makeup!” men can tell are wearing makeup, there are plenty who don’t want it to be noticeable, who wear it because if they’re not worrying about the things they think are wrong with their faces they can focus on everything else.

In a world that is so obsessed with women’s appearances to the point where Renée Zellweger only has to step outside of her house with her face looking a certain way to be the subject of headlines across the internet, can we really blame women for doing what they can to neutralize their appearances? If you want to be taken seriously, if you want to be able to get things done without worrying that everyone is noticing your zits or acne scarring or undereye circles, how can we act as though it’s not a valid choice for women to use makeup to eliminate these concerns? Men don’t have to make these choices; they don’t have to worry about not being taken seriously professionally or personally because of how their faces look.

Just look at this recent thread in r/makeupaddiction, “Why do you wear makeup?” The responses vary, but a lot of them definitely fall into the “It just makes me feel better about myself” camp, with no speak of self-expression or empowerment or any of that jazz.

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In some of these examples, there is a bit (or a lot) of insecurity expressed, or sense of obligation (not being taken seriously as a professional). In some of them, posters eloquently explain how they use makeup to feel a bit better about themselves, but that liking how you look with makeup doesn’t mean you hate your bare face. This isn’t a black and white situation. There’s a lot of nuance in any discussion of why an individual woman might choose to use cosmetics, or how she feels about her face.

Obviously, obviously, I hate to see women saying they hate their faces and that’s why they use makeup. I hate to see the negative side of something I love, that has been so positive for me, and that I have used to make others happy. I hate that the cosmetics industry has weaponized a woman’s own face to be used against her.

But that’s just it, assholes who want to judge women for “hiding”: nobody’s trying to “trick” you. If women want to hide their faces, it’s because we are told from birth that merely by existing we are doing something wrong. The way our facial features naturally settle when we’re not smiling? Resting Bitch Face. The way our bodies look if we’re not wearing undergarments and shapewear? Unsightly. And let’s not talk about our faces with no makeup. Haggard, ugly, tired, sick. If you want women to stop “hiding”, don’t attack them. Attack the industry that makes them feel like they have to hide in the first place. Or just stop being so obsessed with what women do.

Because here’s the thing: nobody calls men fake for presenting their physical selves in a way that makes them feel powerful, or cool, or just like themselves. Men buy $300 sneakers to look cool, but you don’t see anyone calling them fake, or superficial, or acting as if it’s any of their fucking business what someone else puts on their own body.

Unless you’re doing some extreme Kontouring, you do not look like a fundamentally different person without makeup on. Hell, I’m sure even the Kardashians are recognizable when they wash it all off. Sure, with a full face of makeup my skin is smoother, I have no under-eye circles, and my eyelashes are thicker, longer, and darker – but I’m still me. Makeup does not fundamentally change my face into something unrecognizable, nor does it change who I am as a person.

I don’t mean to downplay the difference makeup makes. Most pictures of me are not how I look when I first roll out of bed. For one thing, I’m not frowning at the fact that I’m conscious. But get past the zits and eyebags and realize that my face looks pretty much the same. I’m not lying to anyone. And if you think there’s anything wrong with my face with no makeup on, that’s on you for thinking there’s something inherently wrong with a woman’s natural face. We are raised to notice flaws in women and ignore flaws in men, which is why nobody thinks men need to wear makeup or that men just naturally age better than women. No – you’re just more critical of women.

That’s why you’re shocked when you see someone’s face underneath their foundation and mascara and eyeshadow and lipstick and a million other products. It’s not because they look so different. It’s not because they’re ugly. It’s because you’re looking for flaws. And, frankly, it’s insulting to say a woman is “hiding” her face when she wears makeup, because the implication is that there’s something wrong with her bare face, that when she takes her makeup off she goes from the pretty girl you fell for to an ugly beast that you wouldn’t have looked at twice if you’d known.

And I guess part two to this post is that I don’t want my blog to be a contribution to this idea that makeup makes you worthy as a person. Makeup, for me, is an art form, a way that I express myself, and just an interest of mine that I want to share. I have friends who love makeup just as much as I do, I have friends who wear just a bit of makeup every day, and I have friends who wear no makeup, ever. I love them all. I don’t judge any of them. I never think any of them are fake, or ugly, or that that they should wear more or less makeup. In the end, it’s just smearing shit on your face. If you’re into that, cool. If not, also cool.

So let’s de-weaponize our own faces. I know it’s easier said than done, but let’s do that cliché fake-it-till-ya-make-it thing of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and saying, “You’re beautiful,” or, even better, “Your face does not determine your self-worth. But it’s still pretty rad.” Let’s look at pictures of ourselves with no makeup on and think about the positives instead of fixating on the parts of our faces that we don’t like.

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On this day, I was hanging out with a bunch of my favourite people. I don’t know who said what, but clearly I was enjoying it. After this photo was taken I put on a full face of makeup, had my friend curl my hair, and went out for sushi. Best day ever.

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This was a beach day with three people who I love (and miss). We splashed around, played Twenty Questions in the sun, and had lunch at a touristy café.

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Who has time to worry about eyeliner when there are small children to chase around?

So men (and women) who act like women are “fake” or “hiding” who they are for wearing makeup: wake up and realize that not everything is about you. There are so many of us out there who do it for reasons entirely unrelated to insecurity – but there are women who wear makeup because they’re insecure, and they shouldn’t be blamed for that. If you really care, target the heads of cosmetics companies. (You don’t care. You just want another reason to control women.)

Bare faces are just as good as made-up faces, and vice versa. I hope that one day we will live in a world where we all embrace our makeupless faces, and where we only wear makeup because we truly want to and not because we feel obligated to. Until then, I’ll keep rolling my eyes at people who disparage women for putting makeup on, as if it isn’t our right to do what we want and feel how we want about our own faces.

Beauty-related gifts that don’t suck

Posted on November 13, 2014 under Lists

There are a lot of beauty holiday gift roundups out there, but in my opinion most of them are not that great. Obviously, tastes differ and I’m sure there are people who would disagree with me, but personally I think it’s hard to go wrong with holiday-specific sets or products. I know, I know, not very creative, but they’re nice products from brands with name recognition and THEY ARE SPECIALLY PACKAGED FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I love the holiday season and I love interesting/cute/beautiful packaging, so obviously this is the way to my heart.

This isn’t a real wishlist because I know that I will be receiving ZERO of these products. This is just a list of holiday beauty gifts that are not crap.

Lips

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Lipstick Queen Lip Nouveau Set – $48 USD ($54.46 CAD, £30.51)

I think Lipstick Queen packaging is beautiful in its simplicity (and the lipsticks are satisfyingly heavy to hold), and there is just something so special about receiving THREE ENTIRE lipsticks. You get three colours and three formulas, and although the set isn’t holiday-specific, the colours are all appropriate for cold-weather.

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Lipstick Charms – £29 ($51.77 CAD)

I’m in love with the Charlotte Tilbury lipstick I have, so of course this adorable miniature set of three miniature travel-friendly lipsticks is appealing. Plus, the packaging is perfect for the holiday season: it’s a bit fun, but still expensive with the matte chocolate brown and rose gold.

Sephora Favourites: Give Me Some Lip – $30 CAD (£16.80)

For the lipstick lover, there’s nothing better than the chance to try new formulas and colours, especially if you can try a bunch all at once. These are generous sizes (including one full-sized product), so it’s not like giving someone one-use samples. This is the gift of choice!

Eyes

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Lancôme Hypnôse Classic Mascara Christmas Gift Set – $35 CAD (£22.50)

Even though I refuse to spend my own money on high-end mascara since there’s so much on offer at the drugstore, I live for high-end samples and I love Hypnôse and its various spinoffs. Also, the Bi-Facil eye makeup remover is THE BEST and the Defincils eyeliner is a classic – and you’re getting those for free, since the set is the same price as the mascara alone. SCORE.

MAC Keepsakes Eye Palettes – $39.50 USD ($47.50 CAD, £32)

This one is entirely about the packaging for me – that cameo is too gorgeous! Plus, considering the price of MAC eyeshadows, this is actually a really great price for what you get. But I’m mostly in it for the packaging – I would treasure something this gorgeous forever!

Illamasqua Embellish Eye Trio – £49 ($87.40 CAD)

This set is a bit extravagantly priced, but when has Illamasqua ever mislead us?! The rose gold details and the beautiful box it comes in make this seem like a very special gift, plus cream eyeshadow, gel eyeliner, and brow gel are all products that would get a lot of love from me. This set is just decadent.

Face

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NARS Virtual Domination Cheek Palette – $75 CAD (£45)

This is another one that’s quite pricey, but NARS’ cheek pigments are legendary, the packaging is just the right balance between whimsical and chic, and this is a useful product for travelling. With a few cult products and a few of NARS’ lesser-known hits, this palette hits all the right notes.

Benefit Fun-Size Flirts Christmas Gift Set – $38 CAD (£29.50)

This set contains a little bit of everything – deluxe samples of primer, highlighter, blush, mascara, and more. Again, I’m into sampler gifts because the recipient can try out generous sample sizes of things for free and then know for sure if it’s worth dropping cash on the full-sized product! Also, I think the Benefit packaging is the cutest ever. Fancy packaging is nice too, but sometimes you just want something adorable.

Benefit Cutie Cravings Gift Set (Debenhams exclusive) – £26.55

And for those of us in the UK who are craving an especially adorable Benefit set, get thee to a Debenhams (or order online, it’s the 21st century). Personally I think this set is really useful, with Benefit’s cult classic Hoola bronzer, four neutral eyeshadows, the super popular They’re Real! mascara, and more. This set gives you pretty much everything you need to create a soft and pretty makeup look, which means that it’s basically the gift of a face.

So, those are my picks for beauty-related gifts I would like to receive/gifts I would give if I were rich. What are yours?

Review: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red

Posted on November 10, 2014 under Reviews

Let’s all be honest with each other here for a moment (and eternity).

There are products that circulate around the beauty blogging and vlogging community all at once, and you know they were comped and maybe sponsored. And bloggers post pictures of them and maybe not even swatches (and certainly not any looks with the products), and they’re never mentioned again.

I don’t like this.

First of all, it’s lazy. If you get sent hundreds of dollars worth of lipstick for free and your job is YouTube, I feel like lip swatches are the bare minimum. Yet nobody does this!

Second of all, it’s disingenuous. Don’t pretend you weren’t comped products, then barely use them, then act as if we should spend ACTUAL MONEY on them. Because there’s a difference between “I was given this for free and it’s passable considering I didn’t have to pay for it” and “I purchased this with my own money and I feel that it was worth the price”.

Like, good for you that you received 10 full-sized high-end lipsticks for free, but sometimes the best review comes from someone who went out and plopped down £23 of their own cash.

So. Yes. I bought a Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipstick. This was on the recommendation of Aisling, who has one and loves it.

This is the most expensive lipstick I have ever purchased by the equivalent of $12.50, which is enough to buy me two Rimmel lipsticks. So you know that if I work for 4 hours to be able to afford a single lipstick, I am going to expect it to be flawless in every conceivable way.

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I got the colour Red Carpet Red, a true red that leans a bit on the cool side. I chose it mostly because it seemed like the most versatile and I think that it’s important to get a lot of wear out of a $41 lipstick, but also because I think that having a red lipstick in fancy packaging is possibly one of the most gratifying material experiences a person can ever have. Even if you’re not a red lipstick person!

Gorgeous textured rose gold packaging aside (and it is truly, decadently beautiful), how does this lipstick perform?

First of all, it applies like an absolute dream. It feels like a balm on the lips, even though it’s very pigmented and definitely matte. It goes on so smoothly and doesn’t accentuate any dryness. I love the shape of the bullet itself: the straight edge makes it easy to get a perfect, crisp lip line even without a brush.

As for wear, this lipstick is practically indestructible. The first time I wore it out, I had a full day in London including two meals and plenty of drinks. (Normally when I go out for drinks I submit myself to the fact that my lipstick will probably get messed up, but not this time.) There was minimal fading on the very inside of my lower lip after I ate, but even if I hadn’t touched it up I don’t think I would have looked noticeably weird wandering around!

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Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipstick in Red Carpet Red just after application, and after 5 hours and a messy meal. It could use some minor touch-ups in the center of the lower lip, but nothing serious, and no feathering whatsoever! Plus, it still feels great – not dry or flaky.

Is this lipstick a splurge? Definitely. Am I sorry that I spent my own money on it? Not at all. It’s certainly not an essential item, but if you’re in the mood for a fancy and gorgeous lipstick I would absolutely recommend one from the Matte Revolution line. My only complaint is that the colour selection is fairly limited – most of the colours are either dark, vampy cold weather colours (which I do love) or very similar shades of peachy/browny/pinky neutrals.

Charlotte Tilbury Tilbury Matte Revolution lipsticks retail for £23 ($41 CAD) for 0.12 oz, or £191.67 ($341.67 CAD) per oz, and can be purchased from Charlotte Tilbury counters at Selfridges or online from CharlotteTilbury.com.