Prime Suspect

Confession: I slather things on my face.

I don’t apply them carefully with expensive brushes and $8 sponges. Who has time for that? No, seriously, I work from home and I still don’t have time for that.

There’s very little delicacy involved in my daily application of products– almost none, really, if we’re being totally honest here.

I rarely pat, or mist, or brush something lightly onto my skin with the eyelashes of babies. Because first of all, that would be terrifying. And second, I am just not a delicate girl! I’m not. I’ve accepted it. I crash into things, I break them, I offer to pay for them (when everyone knows I can’t, really, but it’s the thought that counts, right? RIGHT?)

I like to feel things, I like to pick them up and play with them and squish them accidentally. I like to finger-paint my face. I like to over-indulge, and I have a hard time with moderation; if applying something 1x a day is good, than THREE times a day must be great, right? I am messy. I use my hands to eat foods that are not finger foods. I am a TACTILE MOTHERFUCKER.

This all leads to a veritable oil-slick of an epidermis most mornings. Concealer half-smeared across my cheeks, moisturizers fighting for space, two types of liquid blush all mushed together, five layers of serums and sunblocks and magical potions I mixed in my golden cauldron while speaking latin……I put a lot of shit on my face, okay? And that means that I’m usually working with a less-than-perfect piece of skin on which to put my actual makeup. I slather. Like icing a cake in the dark, I slaaaaather on my products. The sunblocks alone could cushion a small comet if it flew into the side of my face.

Now normally — when it’s time to put on my usual liquid eyeliner– if I didn’t take some small precaution? That careful cat’s eye would end up down by my chin before the day was over.

It doesn’t, though. My mascara stays put, my eyeliner remains fresh and doo-wop pretty, my face looks fresh to death when I arrive on the scene and demand they play that song I like. You know, the one with the hand claps and the children’s chorus? You know it.

Now, the reason my makeup doesn’t melt like a Carvel cake at a midsummer birthday party?

I prime this bitch like a motherfucker.

That’s vulgar, I know. It’s an un-ladylike thing to say. I should encourage you to “create a smooth, crease-free canvas upon which to feather your makeup with fingers light as air.” Who TALKS like this? I am not a PAINTER, my face is not MY CANVAS. MY FACE IS MY FACE, AND MY FACE HAS A LOT OF STUFF ON IT.

So I use shadow primer. And then I win at life. Because I get to keep slathering on my products with abandon, and I still get to look put together and bright eyed and polished.

Primer, to break it down for you, is a product (usually a cream, but sometimes a powder…though I’ve found the creamy ones work a lot better) you apply to literally “prime” your skin before you put on your makeup. For eyeshadow primer, which is what I’m most passionate about, you’re painting on a coat of neutral-colored cream that, once dry, is going to block any oils from your skin (or from slathered on products) from interfering with your eye makeup… those oils that usually cause eye shadows to crease, liners to move/bleed, and mascaras to smear. By priming the surface of the skin, you’re essentially giving yourself a shield to wear under your makeup. It’s magical. 

Seriously, if I could impart any wisdom to you– if I could convince you to purchase just ONE product that seems like it’s overkill, seems like it belongs in the makeup bag of the type of chick who calls her face her Canvas and always smells like rosewater, it would be this: makeup primer is actually really awesome, and worth the extra five seconds it takes your lazy ass to apply.

No matter how much goop I glob (look at that alliteration!) on myself, if I use primer on my eyes (and I mean my lids, my creases, and my under-eye area as well) I will remain flawless-looking for the day.

This one is my favorite:

I want to marry this tube and have 5 tube-shaped babies with it. I do.

It’s eighteen dollars, and you use a tiny little bead of it at a time because it spreads well. So a tube can last you at LEAST 4 months, usually 6…sometimes up to a year. What a BARGAIN, right?

This stuff! This stuff is so great, you guys. It’s like a layer of someone else’s skin on top of your skin. Someone who is a model and who never sweats, whose eyeshadow never creases and who dates Leo DiCaprio on the regular. This is the get-up-on-a-banquette-and-dance-in-a-too-small-dress, I-know-I-look-amazing-and-you-wish-you-were-me of products. It is CONFIDENT and PERFECT and makes you feel like a zillion bucks. Or at the very least, it makes you feel secure. I check my makeup about zero times a day when I wear this stuff, just because I know it’s not going anywhere (so let’s hope I applied it right the first time, you know? Ugh.)

There are other primers out there that have their own crazy cult followings and they deserve them, I’m sure. Personally I think they’re all pretty much the same, except some cost more or less and some smell different. Some are lighter than others, some are made specifically for when you want to wear glitter. (Who are you? Who are you that needs a special glitter primer? I’m just asking.) There are actual FACE primers if you wear a lot of foundation/concealer/blush and find those products have a propensity to run on you. Do some exploring! Put some on your face, see if you like them!

I’m just encouraging you to use a primer, ANY PRIMER, for God’s sake– just use one, any of them. It will change your whole game up.

This Lorac one is fucking GREAT, and I go back and forth between this and the above Too Faced one. If you are feeling splurgish, go for broke and pay the extra three bucks for this one: Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer.

Also in the running: NARSMakeup Forever,   and Urban Decay. Three fantastic products that I heartily recommend.

Take this step. Ensure your face looks fresh all day, even when you’re wearing 5 layers of sunblock. Give yourself creaseless lids, smearless liner and smudgeless mascara. (None of those is a real adjective, I know, but it’s my blog and I will misspell if I want to.)

Primed and ready (in the strictly non-prostitute sense),

M

AN EXCITING TIME (for face masks and bubble baths)

Yes, the most important part of today is that you should get your ass out and vote.

The SECOND most important thing about today is that I am SO excited about the release of the following two products that I feel like I am going to THROW UP all over my “I Voted” sticker.

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Ole Henriksen I wish you were my BEST FRIEND and we could spend all day LAUGHING and TALKING and PEELING OUR FACES OFF WITH LEMONS.

Look at that swoopy brush it comes with! Imagine how fucking luxurious and soft it feels to apply your face mask with that! YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN FACIALIST!

This peel has like a million things in it that I am deeply, problematically in love with. Lactic Acid? Fruit acid? Glycolic acid? ALL MY ACIDS UP IN THIS JAR.

Licorice Extract? Oh you KNOW I’m gonna have some bright-ass skin from that.

Algae? What is this, La Mer? GET THAT SEAWEED ON MY FACE LIKE YESTERDAY ALREADY.

When this face peel arrives I might sleep with it under my pillow at night, I might eat the whole jar and have to go to the hospital, I might write a boppity song and post it on youtube and await my big break. So many choices. So many emotions.

I am going to drown in this.

This stuff used to only be available in a beautiful, medium-sized (13.5 oz) bottle that cost EIGHTY AMERICAN DOLLARS, which, I mean, it’s essentially a hopped-up drunk bubble bath. That’s excessive. That’s Mariah Carey demanding a thousand white orchids and fifty cans of Beluga caviar in her tour bus excessive. No one needs to pay 80 bones for bubble bath, I don’t care if you literally shit gold.

But Oh, oh man. Oh man was it delightful and alllllllllllllmost worth it. Like, super-expensive-hostess-gift-for-when-Ethel-Kennedy-invites-you-over-for-dinner worth it. I used to go into Sephora, pick up this bottle, stand there like an idiot for 30 minutes just staring into the beautiful, golden center, and then walk out crying.

GUESS WHAT THEY JUST RELEASED A SMALLER LESS-EXPENSIVE VERSION OH MY GOOOOOD SEPHORA WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOOING TO MEEEEE.

And just FYI: It doesn’t smell like sake, really. Not in an overpowering, boozy sense (though there is certainly a time and a place for that. Namely: Christmas holidays.) It doesn’t smell like anything heady or overtly feminine. It mostly smells like angels. Angels, and money, and good taste, and inner peace. It makes your skin feel like hand-churned butter. It makes people lean into you on public transportation and tell you stuff like “You smell like a good dream.” (TRUE STORY, HOW CREEPY IS THAT.) And now it’s available in a $48.00 bottle, and you know what? That is still cray. That is still almost too expensive for bubble bath, but COMPARED TO 80 IT’S FINE. It’s fine, okay? It’s fine. Just trust me. Just slip into your sake bath, hopefully not whilst wearing a culturally inappropriate geisha wig, and dream your big dreams.

We need some soothing bath time today. It’s an exciting, momentous time! But also: that can be hella stressful. So we need some lemon face masks, and some sake baths, and some wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ about the future of our nation. Go vote. Then go take a bath.

You bet your ass that’s what I’ll be doing.

So excited I could pee, (but hopefully not in the bath)

M

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Q’s and A’s on Skin Type

My girl Laura wrote in to the blog (email me! mlopezkeough@gmail.com) saying she wasn’t sure what skin advice on here actually applied to her because she wasn’t sure what TYPE OF SKIN she actually has, and to that I say: girl, you are lucky. She wondered if her pores were large! THEY AREN’T, I’VE SEEN THEM, but also: if you have large pores, you’re most likely already aware of them because they look different than the usual pores you see. Pore shame: it’s a real thing, guys.

If your skin type is cOmBiNaTiOn, like mine is, there is never a question in your mind as to what advice applies; EVERYTHING applies because your face is like a crazy war zone. I’ve got oily spots, clogged pores, dry patches, all that shit. If you are lucky enough to wonder whether or not you have bad skin, you are either the only person living on your little tropical island of 1 or you are in possession of some ok-grade skin. (If you are on that island, though, wear sunblock.)

Here’s a test I learned from some teen magazine: hold a square (single ply, not some puffed-up fancy Charmin type bullshit) of toilet paper to the various zones of your face (nose, forehead, chin, cheeks…) Examine how much oil is transferred from your skin to the TP from each zone. If you’ve got grease transfers everywhere, heads up: your skin is oily. If some patches (most likely your T zone) transfer a little oil but others are bone dry, welcome to my world! You’ve got combination skin. If you’re staring at the TP going “WHAT IS IT I AM EVEN LOOKING FOR IT JUST LOOKS LIKE THE SAME OLD TOILET PAPER” then chances are your skin is not oily, it might be a little dry or it might be perfectly Ph balanced (in which case: fuck you.)

If your skin flakes, peels, gets itchy, red, or seems anything less than dewy, then you want to add a little moisture into your product rotation. Moist skin is healthy skin, and it ages well. Dry skin has a tendency to crack and fissure, which reduces elasticity over time. Our goal is elastic, moisturized, plump, healthy skin….skin that looks like it was born yesterday.  (A special note: there are some skin conditions that manifest like reeeeeally dry skin, usually around the mouth or nostrils, that are actually due to a fungal or viral problem, not a lack of moisture. When in doubt, see your dermatologist– because if you’ve got a yeast imbalance and it’s making your skin crack and bleed, there’s no fancy face cream from Sephora that’s going to fix you up. You need to see a Dr. and get on a real healing regimen. PREACH.)

If you’re battling an overproduction of sebum (clogged pores, oily patches, acne) then you’re going to want to target reducing that sebum (retinoids, jojoba oil) and if your skin is always perfect and strangers stop you on the street to ask what your secret is then WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS BLOG FOR, GO BE A MODEL.

Answering your questions,

M

 

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In an Effort to Look Less Dead.

Ugh.

I was going to do a joke Halloween post about which fake blood has the best consistency, or which prop mustaches are made with top-quality brush fibers. It was going to be funny. Full of puns. A jocular roller coaster of laughs.

But then I went out hard for Fantasy Fest and met some Latvians with a penchant for numerous, silently-chugged glasses of vodka and oh my god, my brain, my brain, my poor sodden mop of a brain, I am no longer a human, I am a crumpled up cocktail napkin on the bottom of a drag queen’s shoe.

So instead: Best concealer options for under-eye circles suffered after a night of alcohol-soaked revelry and subsequent regrettable 4:00am Slamwiches at Denny’s…?

Easy. I go to my girls Laura, Bobbi, and my fabulous gay friend Yves. I use a nice, medium-sized blending brush (MAC 217 or the Bare Minerals Maximum Concealer Brush) and I dab a little green-based (to cut any redness) or peach-based (to cut bluish/black shadows) primer on first if I’m feeling extra dedicated or need to look especially alive. Smashbox for both, or else my trusty, much-loved Too Faced shadow primer if I’m in a rush and just need something to prevent creasing. Excellent primer, must-have. Buy it immediately. Thank me later.

 

This is an actual portrait of me.

 

Bonus round: Best overall tool for helping you look less like a plate of old sandwich meat? I know it’s not cheap, but divided by the six masks that come in each $90 kit this SK-II Halloween Mask of Horrifyingly Expensive Glory (not teeeeechnically their actual name) works out to $15 a sheet, which seems pricy until you realize it’s the same shit Kate Winslet and Iman use, and those chicks are basically ageless and perfect-looking all the goddamn time, so they must be on to something. (You can also pay $125 for 10 sheets, which is even cheaper at $12.50 a mask, but for some reason $125 just looks so much worse than $90 that I debated even typing it at all, lest I get hate mail written on the backs of Monopoly money. Anyway, buy here.)

I use these masks if I have to look ON POINT, or if I am feeling sorry for myself and want to sit inside, wear a fur coat and feel like a reclusive heiress grey gardens-style. They are LAVISH AS FUCK and and come with a team of microscopic skin leprechauns who inject little globules of moisture into your skin and make you look like a soft-skinned, plumped-up baby. (They don’t actually come with leprechauns, don’t sue me.)

In addition to the above, I can only add: drink your water, sit in the dark, swear you’ll do better next time.

Yours, with brain damage,

M

Million Dollar Babyface

So here’s the thing about having big pores. If you’re shallow, or you’ve grown up around catty teenage girls, or you read women’s magazines, or you were raised in a place not resembling an apocalypse bunker, you’re aware that LARGE, CLOGGED PORES are  supposedly a plague on your face. A PLAGUE (I’m holding up a skull and yelling in a Shakespearian accent, can you tell? Are you getting that through your computer screen?)

I spent way too many years reading everything I could about how to shrink mine, and fell victim to a lot of bullshit schemes in an effort to “fix” them. I extracted. I paid mean Ukranian women to extract for me. I bought every face wash, toner, astringent, mask, serum, spritz and supposed sebum-blaster that I saw. I burned off the top few layers of my skin using various acids (salicylic, glycolic, fruit, you name it), I scrubbed it until it bled with everything from exfoliators to brushes to pink brillo pads. I did more damage than good, and when I was at my lowest I convinced a haughty dermatologist in Westchester to prescribe me Accutane in an effort to shrink my much-hated blackheads for good. And somewhere between the first blood test and reading the fine print about how if I got pregnant during the treatment, my baby would come out looking like a mud-dwelling catfish, I had a realization:

Some bitches just have bigger pores than others.

And the truth is– the SECRET, dirty, no-good, butt-headed truth– is this: for those of us bestowed upon/cursed with larger-than-microscopic pores, clearing those pores out (let’s be gross: removing the actual blackhead) still leaves you with a visible pore. And that’s almost worse, because then you have what looks like a tiny (but definitely visible with the naked eye) HOLE in your face…which is then impossible to cover without having to cake your face with makeup.

I have succeeded in removing every clogged-up blackhead plug from my face, only to recoil in horror at the fact that my nose now looked as though it had been pricked all over with a deep, angry pin. I was LITERALLY full of holes. (Also red and splotchy and sort of crying.) I looked nuts. I looked sad, and broken, and hole-ridden. I looked like sad Swiss cheese, and I realized that this obsessive, crazy extraction shit? Not worth it.

There is no miracle product that will actually shrink your pores. OHMYGODIKNOW, JUST QUIT NOW, YOUR LIFE ISN’T WORTH LIVING. I have felt this. But still.

What we’re really looking for every time we buy a “Pores-B-Gone!” miracle elixir is, in all honesty, something that will magically graft a whole new sheet of tiny-pored skin over our existing skin. And no matter what certain companies tell you, that does not exist at the moment. When it does, I’m going to be all up in that lab, swabbed with iodine, grinning like a crazyface and singing songs about my future poreless skin graft. Until then?

I do what I can to keep my skin looking healthy– looking dewy, fresh, rosy and bright. Because that is what people actually notice. People without magnifying glasses. If your skin looks even toned and fit, clear and without visible festering sores, you look rad. And yes, you can look rad with big pores the same way you can look rad with crazy Kahlo eyebrows. BEAUTY: it’s fucking tricky like that.

I use gentle fruit acid masks 2x a month or so to keep my t-zone relatively in check, and I use my oldschool Biore pore strips (mostly because I like staring at the disgusting little tree farm that’s revealed when I peel one of those suckers off) and I use a couple other products that, while not a new skin graft, seem to do a great job of making my big pores look…..well, nicer.

No one likes blackheads; if they do, they are a gross cave troll and I don’t have time for that nonsense. This blog is not troll-friendly. So, for the non-cave dwellers, here is some stuff to help you keep those blackheads at bay, keep your pores looking clean (but not empty and gaping and scary) and your face looking fresh to death.

First up, I use a topical retinoid (which I’ll dedicate a whole post to later, because I feel very strongly about these but they are nothing if not controversial for young chicks.)

Second, I use Clarisonic, and I can’t tell you for sure that it’s worth every penny because I do not know you/your bank account intimately, but I can tell you that a) it feels like something an extraordinarily rich and famous woman would have her servant use on her every morning after her milk & Evian bath, and b) my skin is softer & brighter because of it.

Third, I use this:

Actual vacuum not included.

This stuff had such glowing reviews that I bought it and literally did a dance the first time I used it. I danced around my apartment with a crazy blue face, waiting for it to dry, certain that when I rinsed it off I would look like Angelina Jolie.

Imagine my extreme displeasure when that did not, in fact, come to pass.

The truth is that this takes a few weeks for you to see real, changed results– and though a little more on the subtle side than a full Angelina-fication, they are actually pretty great results when they show up. Case in point: I used this before breakfast today, followed by a pore strip. (The vacuum cleaner seems like it helps to get everything in your pores ready to be ripped off your face in a more efficient way than usual….and yes, that’s the medical term, right there. It’s face-rippingly good.) And after I’d thrown on my usual SPF cocktail, a grown ass man not related to me or dating me, and who cares about football and not makeup, stopped dead in his tracks and asked me if I’d used “some kind of skin…cream….mask…thing” because my face looked so goddamn good. I consider that hard evidence.

This is not actually going to vacuum your pores out (I know, I know, I was pissed too) but in terms of fighting that good fight, it’s a pretty good weapon to have on your side.

Next up is the Murad:

I hate the phrase “t-zone” almost as much as I hate my own t-zone.

The above is a great option if your issues are localized– it has all those sexy acids in it that are going to break down dirt and oil, as well as a retinoid if you haven’t the need/desire to spring for one of those as a separate product. All in all a great product, priced pretty competitively, and it smells like something a doctor would apply (read: kind of weird) so you know it’s not fucking around up there on your face.

It’s got aloe and grapeseed and antioxidents and all that good stuff as well, so you’re getting some bang for your buck. I use this in the summer when I need an extra dose of help. I like it, it works well, and it doesn’t hurt my sensitive skin. (To be fair, my skin is probably sensitive because I burnt it and scrubbed it with brillo pads. My b.)

And finally: I’ve found that massaging a layer of Jojoba oil into my face for a full minute while yammering at my boyfriend about Lindsay Lohan’s latest crack-tastrophy is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for my skin or pores, ever. It sounds pretty crunchy (the oil, not the Lohan) but it works, and its worked for a lot of other people, so give it a shot if you’re feeling devil-may-care in the beauty aisle at Whole Foods.

Remember: your pores are still a part of your face, and when it comes to your face you need to be your own crazy restraining-order level fan. You need to be the Clint Eastwood to your face’s Hilary Swank, all up in your corner, shouting at yourself that you’re the baddest bitch out there and that you’ve got this, you’ve got this, you’re the best in the ring, kid.You need to punch those negative face-clawing thoughts out cold, and run around your house naked, holding up your mirror like it’s a Championship belt, and revel in being the best at everything and killing it, always.

So the next time you find yourself standing knee deep in astringent-soaked cotton balls, clawing at your skin screaming WHY WON’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL FOR ONCE, get out of there. Get out of that room filled with wet, smelly cotton balls. Get out of there, and get out of that head space, because you’re not doing your face any favors, and your face? Deserves mad favors. Go buy your face a nice brow pencil, a nice pore treatment, whatever. Whisper that it’s the only face for you. Treat it like it won the face lottery. Because it’s your face; it’s the only face you’re ever going to have, and even with some big-ass pores, it’s still a thing of fucking beauty.

Yours, pores included,

M

On The Everlasting Quest For Semi-Everlasting Lip Color

God, I hate to reapply makeup. I hate it. (Except when it’s in some kind of officially ritzy powder room setting, and your “reapplying” is just a rouse to gossip about shit with your lady friends while vaguely throwing some more lipstick in the general direction of your mouth or whatever.)

The only thing keeping me from tattooing makeup on my face is….okay, literally a hundred reasons. Needles near my eyes? Never getting to try out new versions of stuff? The chance that the tattooer might sneeze and I’d wind up going through life with a tragically-clown-like drunken lip line? No. A hundred times no. But STILL, the permanency sort of appeals to me a bit.

I’m constantly on the lookout for products with great staying power, mainly because I live in a place where the average resting temperature is a balmy zillion degrees and my face starts sweating any time I’m outside, talking, nervous about anything, or not covered in a blanket of ice. I’ve gone through love affairs with the usual long-wear products (primers, mattifying sprays, liquid liner that sticks to your lids like a Sharpie, hair starches, blah blah blah) but right now I’m all about the lipstain.

Another reason I love the idea of semi-permanent lipcolor? I consider nothing to be grosser than leaving lipstick marks behind you on other people’s glassware like some floozy old-school prostitute. You know, and then the wife finds the lipstick stain on the glass and she’s like, DON’T LIE TO ME, I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE, WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS, DON’T BE GLIB, CLIFF, YOU KNOW I HAVE NEEDS, DO YOU THINK I HAVEN’T WANTED SOME EXCITEMENT FOR MYSELF? DO YOU THINK I HAVEN’T LUSTED AFTER THE POOL BOY EVERY WEEKEND FOR THREE YEARS? And the old-school prostitute is just driving away in her little convertible, laughing all the way to the bank, dressed in a feather boa or some shit.

I digress.

I love lipstains because they make you look effortless and Snow White-like, as though you were born with naturally ruby/coral/toffee/burgandy/etc-colored lips and you wake up every morning all flushed and perfect looking, smelling slightly of lemons and honey. They are way less committal than a lipstick. Or a gloss, for that matter. JESUS, lipgloss is the most high maintenance relationship ever. Lipgloss is like the Kim Kardashian of products. You have to reapply five times before you’ve even left the house. Lipstains are great for work and evening and weekend and all the other time blocks; they are easy to apply, easy to forget you’ve applied, and easy to touch-up if need be. They can be dressed up or down, and they look timeless and modern simultaneously. They are the Emma Stone of products.

The only problem is: One, they dry out your lips. (See my previous post on medicinal-smelling Japanese moisturizer to address this.)

And Two, they never last as long as you want them to, and when they start to fade away mid-meal you wind up looking like you went and ate a popsicle in the bathroom between the salad course and the entree. Not flattering.

Thus far I have found two lipstains that are worth 5x their weight in gold, because honestly, they really don’t weigh very much on their own, you know?

The first is this stunner right here:

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Yeesh. I know. $32.00 a pop. This is not an impulse buy. This is not a crazy new flavor of gum that you decide to take for a spin, just as your time to checkout of DuaneReade has come and you have to put down that People magazine lest they make you actually BUY it.

But this stuff is serious. It’s somehow glossy and stainy and lipsticky all at once, and Lord Have Mercy it STICKS AROUND. You want to exfoliate your lips first, then apply to bone-dry skin. Let it dry (it’s almost like an entirely new layer of skin) and take your lips out for a really nice dinner. This is lipstain to last you through your wedding, or through a long day at work when you don’t even have time to PEE, let alone painstakingly reapply your makeup. It’s super luxe and well made and the color spectrum is fantastic, so  women of all skin tones can find a shade to flatter them. I’m partial to No. 9, a true bombshell take-no-prisoners red, and to No. 6, a pinky caramely J.LO color when I’m feeling especially On The 6.

For those of us not diving into a pool of gold coins Scrooge McDuck-style, there’s a lowbrow version that– while not AS perfect– delivers similarly long-lasting results…

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24 hours? Let’s not get crazy. You are a solid, 8-hour lipstain and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Lipcolor.

This is the best of the cheapos, in my personal opinion. It comes with a stupid little gloss/hydrator to be applied on top of the stain, which of course rubs off in 10 seconds like any regular chapstick would, and is basically just there to guard against the inevitable drying that comes with wearing a stain. The key here is adjusting your expectations. This is not a lipstain that isn’t going to fade a bit throughout the day. But it’s a great choice if you have an event and you need your lip game on lock for 4-8 hours.

We have this thing here in Key West called the Zombie Bike Ride, which is exactly what it sounds like. I painted my face like a sugar skulI, threw some crazy flowers on my head, the usual. For my lips, I put this on in Maybelline’s “Flame” color (after a recent rebranding, I think it’s now called “Keep Up The Flame.” Whatever, Maybelline. Get your brand on.) Then I drew stitches over them ’cause I like to be frightful, immediately decided I needed to drink some wine, drank some wine, rode my bike 45 minutes in the blazing sun (read: super sweaty face), drank a number of other beverages, rode for another 2.5 hours, licked my lips a ton, talked big game, ate a giant plate of nachos, had some more beverages (I GET THIRSTY, OKAY), kissed my boyfriend a bunch (I mean, sorry, but it has to be included because it constitutes wear-and-tear), rode my bike home, drank some water, and generally touched my face a lotttttt. All in all, about 8-9 hours of wear.

This is at right around hour 1. I’d done my makeup, swanned around a bit, drank some wine….it’s pretty flawless.

So, then I got thirsty:

Drinking with abandon.

And then I got sweaty:

Notice how creased and streaky my boyfriend’s makeup is? He should have used the Maybelline, duh.
Also: Notice the sheen of sweat on my face? I’m not kidding around. It was like the surface of the sun out there.

And then, finally, after 8+ hours of wear, I decided I should probably take a picture of my lips after I’d eaten a big plate of nachos, just to see how the stain had held up:

Sorry about the shitty lighting. Nacho bars are not known for their interrogation-quality overhead brightness.

PRETTY FUCKING GREAT, RIGHT? That’s a lot of mileage for one measly little $9 lipstain. (If you’re interested, the eyeliner-used-as-lip-stitches that ALSO held up really well is Stilla, natch.)

This stuff needs a good scrubbing to take off– makeup remover is your friend here, and a nice exfoliator for your lips again afterwards cause they’re gonna be dryyyyyyyy as bone. Follow with a super-duty moisturizer to take you through the night and when you wake up, pat yourself on the back. You did good, kid.

So, there you have it. REAL LIFE TRIALS FROM A REAL GIRL, or something. This lipstain may not be the flashiest, it might not speak three languages and have mad Chanel purses in its closet, but when you need a matte cherry lip to take you through the evening looking fly, it has you covered.

Yours, still wearing my flower crown because it makes me feel like a centerpiece,

M

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Products I Am Casually Dating At The Moment

You know when you’ve just started dating someone and everything is fresh and exciting and full of promise and sparkle? You make plans. You make all kinds of crazy meals for them and almost set your kitchen on fire just to prove you’re The Whole Package. You make weird photo-shopped scrapbooks of your future kids’ weddings. (Just me? No, I’m kidding, and if you do this maybe seek some help from like a counselor or something. Put down the RomCom, pick up an axe and go chop yourself a tree, build yourself a stool and sit and think about your issues.) You see no flaws in them. You see only beauty, grace, a perfect, airbrushed canvas on which to thrust your every hope and desire. You catch yourself staring at weird parts of their body (back of the neck, crease of the earlobe, armpit) thinking GOD YOU’RE PERFECT, I WANT TO LICK YOUR PERFECT EARLOBE CREASE, COME OVER HERE, HOWEVER DID I LIVE WITHOUT YOU BEFORE NOW.

I get that with products a lot. I get handed a sample for a new clavicle bronzer, or an eyelash moisturizer, or a scented hair powder or something equally superfluous– something that I’ll look at and think “Fine, I will try you, but there is no way you are making it into the permanent rotation happening in my too-small vanity cabinet because I am PRESSED FOR SPACE and you are UNNECESSARY and oh, wow, that is really nice packaging, are you scented with Japanese Cherry Blossom? Oh, fuuuuuuuuuckkkk…….

I’m having that right now with these two completely dissimilar products that are kind of useless to me in my real, everyday life, but suddenly the thought of living without them seems ridiculous and rage-inspiring.

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Oh, you wily Japanese chemists! You know the way to my heart.

This stuff is very strange. It’s wonderful and strange and smells straight-up medicinal, so naturally I’m in love with it. (I once asked a sales assistant at Sephora to recommend some products scented like Eucalyptus or Pine, and she kindly suggested I leave, head over to CVS and pick up some Vick’s Vapor Rub. She saw into my soul, that bitch.) I have an odd love of anything that smells like it might be prescribed to those who have weak lungs, or that smells like it’s supposed to heal you after you’ve thrown your back out. My lungs are fine, my back is strong…I don’t know what the whole obsession is about, I just try not to look too closely at it, you know? Just accept it. Move forward. Buy more Vick’s.

The scent in this particular cream is a solid dose of Camphor, which I love, and which fades away almost completely after a few minutes so you can still interact with society without people leaning in and asking you why you smell like a fine bath salt. The texture is like something you’d find in an antibiotic. And it’s very, very thick….almost like a wax.

Have I sold you yet?

I know, it sounds disgusting, but in truth it’s like a much thicker Bag Balm. You’re going to either love it or hate it. I am, clearly, of the former camp.

I put it on my elbows and my cuticles and my super chapped lips (FYI: most lip stains have a lot of alcohol in them, which dries out your lips and makes you look flaky and dehydrated and slightly undead. This, of course, does not deter me. I would put the blood of a roadkill corpse on my lips if you told me it would deliver a lasting stain, for reals. NO LIMITS. But it means my lips need an extra dose of moisture that Chapstick just can’t deliver.)

It’s refreshing and really, really delivers a nice vaseline-like coating if you’re into that sort of thing. It makes your skin as soft as a baby’s, if you’re into creepily comparing your skin to that of newborns. (A dangerous game, I might add.)

There is no reason I need this cream; I have like a zillion vaseline-like creams. In fact, I have different types of actual Vaseline that are scented with various essential oils– they come in little tins that I found in Ireland and smuggled back in the linings of my carry-on sweater because you know the TSA is not going to stop my moisturizing game, no fucking way, sir.

I don’t care. I love it. Lean close, smell my glistening skin: I SMELL LIKE A SPA. The end.

Product number two is this bad boy:

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Look at you, all sleek and multi-purposeful…you think you’re such hot shit, don’t you!

This here is the stupidest thing ever, for me, because I wear and own so many sunblocks that I could pass for one of those kids who are LITERALLY allergic to the sun and have to attend Camp Sundown, which is so sad and insane at the same time it makes my brain hurt. NO SUNSHINE EVER? Jesus. It’s like a Ray Bradbury story or something.

I wear SPF 100 every day. Every day, Yo! I put it on my face, put it on my neck, put it on my boob shelf, and I use body lotion with an SPF built in for the rest of my limbs. (Full disclosure: I live in Florida, which is just a walking advertisement for sunscreen…a place where you can pass a woman in the street and she’s either a young 58 or an old 25, but you can’t tell the difference. Pass the floppy hat.)

So there is NO REASON why I need ANOTHER special sun cream for my eyes! And yet.

And yet.

Oh, this cream. This cream is silky. It’s liquid, but creamy. It smells EXPENSIVE, which I am all about because hello, I am a cheapskate and love passing for a rich person. It doesn’t sting the delicate skin around your eyes, it sinks in and lies matte on your face, it moisturizes incredibly well, and it even brightens your under-eye area like a separate, brightening primer . It has a reasonable broad-spectrum SPF, it softens your skin, it doesn’t bead in the heat….it’s pretty much the best. I mean, honestly, it’s kind of an overachieving NERD of an eye cream, with its big-ass list of fanciful ingredients and benefits, but whatever, nerds need love too.  And I’mma keep loving this cream alllllllllll daaaaaaay looooooong.

Until I find an even better one and I drop its ass flat on the ground, that is.

-M

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In Defense Of The Shower

When I was a Junior at Sasspants University* I went on a study abroad to Florence, Italy, and was housed with a host “family” of one human. My “Mama” was a 50-something leopard print enthusiast who, on my very first day, told me elaborate tales about how her dead husband haunted his old office, and then showed me where I’d be sleeping all semester (Surprise! His old office.) She had great style, fantastic art, spoke like 5 words of English and thought I was a complete buffoon because I asked for things like “internet” and “blankets.”

One day I took a shower in the tiny-ass train compartment of a bathroom (have you ever showered on a train? Second surprise! The shower head is located over the toilet) that she’d given me, and because I was upset about something dumb (not speaking a single word of Italian, maybe? That proved to be an issue during my living in Italy) I accidently lost track of time, showered for like an hour, and when I stepped outside I realized I’d sooooooooort of flooded her entire super-expensive apartment, ruining literally everything in sight and proving I was even dumber than she’d originally thought. WHOOPSIdasies.

From that day on, my host mother told me how to shower (quickly, using very little water, and only every other day or so…similarly to how I imagine one showers in the army or on a space ship? I don’t know, I am not in a Space Army.) She told me how to shower, because I had lost the privilege of other people assuming I knew how to shower, and I accepted her wisdom because I was alone in a foreign country and I’d seen Hostel on opening weekend and I was not about to go pissing off some crazy Italian lady only to find out that she happened to be into killing American chicks and using their hair to make old-timey wreaths.

That is one of the only instances in which I think it is acceptable for another human being to tell you how to shower.

You know what’s not acceptable?

When I open a women’s magazine and they tell me how to shower.

DON’T USE HOT WATER, IT DRIES OUT YOUR SKIN.

DON’T USE TAP WATER, USE ONLY 73 DEGREE EVIAN.

TAKE LUKEWARM BATHS.

TAKE ONLY MILK BATHS.

TAKE BATHS IN THE BLOOD OF YOUR ENEMIES.

SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FACE WITH COLD WATER, IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HAIR/SKIN/EYEBALLS.

NEVER SHOWER AGAIN, JUST RUB YOURSELF VIGOROUSLY WITH A HARD VOLCANIC ROCK.

Listen up. It is not acceptable for some bitch you don’t know to tell you how to shower. Okay? It’s not. It’s just….not something that we can accept. The next time you open up a magazine and it’s like, 5 NEW WAYS TO WASH YOUR ARMPITS, you roll up that newspaper and you use it to light the candles on your Santeria shrine. Because ladies, you are adults. You are successful, sarcastic, gorgeous women of the world, and you know how to take a fucking shower, okay? You were not raised by wolves. And yes, standing under scalding hot water for twenty minutes does dry out your skin, but you know what? Sometimes you need to scald away the horrors of the day. Sometimes you need to wash off the image of that creepy guy masturbating on the subway, or the meeting that lasted for two hours where the only words you uttered were “I agree with Kevin.”

Sometimes bad bitches need to sit inside a hot ass bath and read some Pulitzer-winning books, you know? And there is no magazine in the universe who can take that away from you.

So, if your skin is dry from the shower or bath and the thought of standing under a measly dribble of lukewarm BULLSHIT instead of your nightly, wonderfully hot faceblast doesn’t sound appealing, here is some shit that will help you get your skin on lock afterwards…

DO YOU SEE THIS SHIT? IT COSTS TWELVE MOTHERFUCKING DOLLARS. I’VE EATEN PIECES OF CAKE THAT COSTS MORE THAN THAT, AND THAT CAKE SURE AS HELL DID NOT TURN MY SKIN INTO A BUTTERY LANDSCAPE OF SUPPLE PERFECTION.

OH MY GOD, AMLACTIN I WANT TO MARRY YOUR CREAMY, INEXPENSIVE ASS. This stuff is outrageous. It smells like….it doesn’t smell great, okay….it kind of smells like acid, which makes sense because it has acid in it. And that acid is your NEW BEST FRIEND, the kind that comes over and is like, “Oh, I just happened to have all these extra beautiful clothes in your size! Here! Take them, and this money! I have too much of it, anyway. You’re so much prettier than me!” This cream is not messing around. It has the consistency of a very fancy Irish butter, like maybe you’d put it on a scone and have yourself a nice little afternoon. It’s INTENSE. It’s TRIPLE ACTION. I used it once in the summer and went outside, and my skin was so moisturized that I started sweating moisturizer. That is a TRUE STORY.

You can get this shit (or its moderately less heavy cousin, Amlactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Moisturizing Body Lotion, or its cousin’s cousin, Lac-Hydrin Five Lotion Fragrance Free) at any CVS, Walgreens, DuaneReade, or similarly-unfancy store. I put this stuff on my whole body after I take the kind of punishing, slightly painful shower that lasts so long my boyfriend has to come in twice just to make sure I didn’t slip, fall, hit my head and die in there. Use the lighter (non-triple action) versions if you’re scared of being TOO moisturized, if you live someplace hot, or if you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about when I say “alligator shins.”

Next up is my main steez, my ball-and-chain, my shorty for life:

I love you, you gorgeous Organic bottle of golden magic.

Jojoba Oil, you and me are bound forever.

This stuff is relatively inexpensive and inspires the kind of rapturous enthusiasm that is usually reserved for men talking about Cool Ranch Doritos.

I used to think that people who put oil on their face were insane, because my face was oily and I had acne and I was under the impression that to STOP oil, you needed to KILL IT WITH PEROXIDE AND TONERS AND FIRE. Apparently: not the case. Apparently rubbing this stuff into your skin, for a tender, massage-like minute or so, makes your sebum glands chill out, your face glow like you’re pregnant, your pores look clearer, and your dry patches disappear. You rub this onto your legs and you’re instantly smooth. It soaks in, doesn’t get on your clothes, and you spend a lot of time casually stretching your own limbs out to admire how well moisturized and luminous you look. People will think you are a big narcissist. They will say, “Maxine, stop admiring your own elbows! Get back to your job at the coal mines!” Or a similar thing.

They should really put that shit on the bottle.

Get a big old jug of this off Amazon. Put it on your skin when you’re fresh out of the shower and still a little damp. If you want to get spicy, mix it up: use Argan oil, or pure Coconut Oil (with the latter, you will smell like a tropical vacation fantasy and both dogs and men will follow you and ask you to go to the beach with them and occasionally lick your ankles. I warned you.) Thank me later. Be a soft, moisturized, natural and organic goddess. Lick your own ankles; you are delicious.

My last favorite is such a bourgie choice, but whatever, I’m also into Escalades and big-ass diamond necklaces shaped like leopards so you can probably anticipate where I fall on the spectrum of being a classless tart.

I’m so high class my oils cost $18.00 an OUNCE.

There was a couple months after this stuff came out where every magazine editor (granted, these were same magazines that TELL YOU HOW TO SHOWER, so, take this as you will) was going on and on about how this was the “next cult product!” and how “The French have cornered the market on beauty oils” and how “it really is Divine!” and “blah blah blah, the best!” And I was like, come on, ladies, it’s grapeseed oil with some essential oil mixed in. Are we really going to bring out the smelling salts because chicks are fainting over scented grapeseed oil? Bitches be crazy and gullible and need to get their ass to a Whole Foods to buy their own damn grapeseed oil, because damn.

Shut up, shut up, shut up and put this oil on you. First of all, it’s a spray bottle, so you’re spraying scented oil onto your skin. Which is just so luxurious and let’s you really just fall around into it, getting it on your hair (it’s awesome on split ends) and pretending you’re Elizabeth Taylor and the world is your expensive spa. And, yes, I’m going to say it: this stuff smells DIVINE. The branding crew behind this product could be fired for being so uninventive. Oh, wow, you named something the exact same thing it smells like. You deserve a promotion! You’re a creative genius! Go home.

Take note: It’s not a masculine, sporty scent. Not in the least. This is not unisex, okay? This is a LADY scent in the most stereotypical sense of the word. This smells like FLOWERS and DREAMS and is slightly musky and gourmand, so if you’re the kind of dame that’s into menswear and smelling like cedar, move on. (I love you, though, you cedar-smelling bitches are the tits. Keep on wearing those relaxed-fit chinos, okay? Because you look totally fly.)

This is some straight up Cleopatra shit, this Divine Oil. It’s totally non-greasy, it absorbs quickly, it smells like a sexy flower had sexy sex with a big pile of money. I put this on after a bath (or occasionally spray it into the bath itself) and I swear to God I start talking like Mae West, witticisms just flying everywhere and sexual energy hitting everyone in the face, knocking them over. It’s a special oil– don’t necessarily go out and buy the big bottle (unless you have tons of cash, in which case, BUY ME SOME OILS!) because the 1oz is so absurdly expensive for what you’re getting that you might just save it for special sexy occasions. But it makes your skin so nice and soft and balanced and HAUNTINGLY well-scented that you might also just lose your mind and spray the whole damn bottle all over yourself in one week.

…not that that’s ever happened to me, I’m just sayin’.

You can buy it at Sephora, BeautyBar, Nordstrom, Amazon, the Caudalie website, or anywhere that fancy ladies buy beauty stuff.

*not my real college because duh.

LET’S DO THIS, BITCHES

Okay, so here’s the deal.

My name is Maxine. I have a righteous mane of hair, I travel and forget my belongings in hotel bathrooms constantly, I like books and boots and I can’t roast a chicken for shit.

I have a misbehaving dog who may or may not get me deep into a veeeeeeerrrrrry expensive lawsuit someday (biting a baby on the face or something) and a boyfriend who doesn’t believe in using soap because it’s “cheating.” I live in Key West, land of drag queens and quart-size cocktails, and I deal with a perpetual risk of being run over while on my bicycle because I am a flighty, swerving, hot mess in a dress.

But mainly,  I like talking about skin care and beauty.

I like it so much that if you let me, I’ll talk to you about it for days. Months, even. There are people who asked me to recommend some mascara like 2 years ago and they’re going to have to change their numbers soon because I will straight up die before I stop extolling the virtues of tube mascara vs. waterproof vs. primer-based vs. navy blue. Okay? And once I die I’m going to set up shop in Hell, thrusting tiny samples of the latest non-clumping vibrating superblack falsie-looking brand on every poor soul who comes within twenty feet of me. Because yes, these are my demons, and I want them to have good elasticity in their 40’s.

It’s a sickness, I am sick.

I’m into products and reviews and panels and papers and rumors and prescriptions and arguments and rituals and theories and old wive’s tales and publications and videos and satanic rites and sky writing and articles and basically anything that somehow involves beauty, of any kind, ever. I’m a fan. I’m Aniston-level, “laser-porn” lunatic obsessed. I will put bird poop on my face if there is evidence to support it making me look….better. Somehow. Brighter, maybe? Do birds have great skin? More research needs to be done. Round up the bird scientists.

A few of you asked me to share my knowledge, which I have accumulated over the years* after having struggled with a bevy of skin issues that are equally common and annoying. (*this is the moment where I make a cheesy beauty joke like “How many years? A lady never tells her age– and a good eye cream doesn’t, either!” Literally the worst.)

I’ve seen my fair share of dermatologists and estheticians and makeup artists and specialists and homeopathic “healers” and bitchy Italian pharmacists and rich, taut-cheeked socialites and I’ve read endless publications on everything involving the epidermis and all the weird things you can do to it (Vampire facial, anyone? No but seriously.) I have continued to feed what I consider to be an embarrassingly obsessive skin care hobby for as long as I can remember. And you know what? Fuck it. There are worse things in life. I don’t kill prostitutes, I don’t shoot heroin into my butt, I don’t watch angry humiliation porn and I don’t talk about owning a horse like it’s a life-affirming choice. This is my addiction, and I’m okay with it.

japanese skin care

This shit is my pornography.

And okay, it’s not exactly a noble pursuit, of that I am FOR SURE aware. I could have used the space in my brain currently occupied with cotton balls soaked in green tea toner to store something useful. I could have learned to knit scarves for the….perennially cold, or whatever.  I could have memorized a thesaurus, I could have learned chess. (Side note: I feel SO GUILTY about not knowing how to play chess. Mainly because I’ve technically “learned” how to play like 6 times, but I keep forgetting and then that space in my head gets taken up by other pointless bullshit, like the pros and cons of a higher strength retinoid. Does anyone else feel this pressure? This intense, chess-related pressure? Drop me a line, we can start some kind of support group.)

The point is, I never learn chess, in the end. Someone teaches me, but instead of remembering the rules I store useless, endless knowledge about beauty products and trends and innovations and phases and recalls and bullshit, so much bullshit it’s insane. I can’t remember how to cross multiply and I can’t remember the lyrics to that song, and probably can’t remember when it’s your birthday, but if they came out with a laser two years ago that boosts collagen better than Thermage, I REMEMBER. It’s my Spiderman curse. With great power comes great responsibility to take care of your under-eye area.

woman-fruit-facial-mask

Look at this idiot! Take those bananas off your face and put them in a blended rum drink IMMEDIATELY! This is so incredibly dumb, you look like a summer salad. I will never tell you to put bananas on your face. Hand-on-heart.

Heads up: I try new products more often than I try new kinds of kale, or lululemon medium-impact sports tanks, or oxygen bars, or herbal teas, or core workouts, or whatever good-for-you-Self-magazine-trend I’m supposed to be trying. I don’t have ANY interest in vegan cooking, I am legitimately terrified of acupuncture, and I’d cross the street to avoid a conversation about yoga. I get it, you’re flexible. You can put your foot in your own fucking armpit. Here’s your parade.

I don’t really want to talk about many, many things that are supposed to be good for you, mainly because I think most of it is pretty fucking obvious and talking about it usually leaves me feeling hugely guilty that I don’t make my own cheese and run Tough Mudder every year, you know? (Also: What is up with Tough Mudder? WHY DO PEOPLE DO THESE THINGS, YOU ARE NOT IN THE MARINES WHY ARE YOU RUNNING THROUGH FIRE, SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME, PLEASE.) I am lackadaisical about many, many aspects of my life and my livelihood– I mean, I eat candy, for Christ’s sake. And not the good kind made from beets. The kind made from plastic and baby tears and corn, big giant piles of corn. I don’t give a shit about baby tears!

But I do give a shit about skin care. I give so many shits it’s outrageous.

yoga bitch

Who are these chicks? Who does yoga while smiling pleasantly in a field of overgrown grass? WHO ARE YOU?

Look elsewhere for a blogger who will tell you which farm-fresh chocolate milk is the best post-workout fuel–and don’t get me wrong, that stuff is dope, I’ve tried it, but I don’t want to talk about it because I think it’s fucking BORING compared to talking about whether or not keratin treatments really do give you cancer. Or about eyeshadow primer. Oh god, the importance of eyeshadow primer. I’m vacuous, whatever– because really, there are like a zillion great blogs out there that tell you what 5k’s are the most fun to run, and which dope stir-fry’s are also good for you, and how to make your upper arm muscles look like you’re smuggling hard baguettes under your sweaters. Go read them (I totally do, are you kidding me? I need all the arm help I can get, batwings are my NIGHTMARE) and get your deep lunges on, get your bikram yoga sweat on, do you. DO YOU, girl. But I’ll be over here doing me, telling you what lipstain lasts the longest. (It’s YSL. I hope you didn’t just come here to find that out, but if you did: peace.)

I’m not going to lie, being a lady is no fucking joke, and you have every right to do whatever it is that makes you feel precious and strong and Xena-like. Follow ZooBorns. (Guilty.) Obsess over baking sites that teach you how to make cupcakes shaped like past presidents. Read a zillion mommy-blogs about breast-feeding while on Venus. Do what feels right for you. The internet is our freespace. Be free in it.

But if you want to know what this chick recommends for a t-zone treatment that delivers visible results, stick around. If you are interested in face creams and body creams and booty creams, read on. (Egg creams: go elsewhere.)  If you want to talk about pores, SO DO I. If you want to get rid of that weird patch of scaly skin on your calf that gets red and itchy in winter and you DON’T want a steroid because that is bonkers, come at me. If you feel bad about your neck, read Ephron. If you want to know what to do to your neck NOW to avoid hating it LATER, I’m here for you.

Let’s go on this crazy, superficial journey together, baby.

Take those bananas off your face first, though, you look fucking ridiculous.

-M

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