Sunday Pinspiration No. 13: If I was a rich girl

I bought Guerlain Meteorites Teint Dore.

This is the first truly extravagant, luxury beauty product I've bought. Sure, I'll splurge on a $20 mascara  or go a little crazy at Lush. But a purchase like this? It makes me feel like this:

Guerlain Meteorites are legendary among makeupheads. The multicolored, subtly shimmering beads are meant to be used as a finishing powder that blurs imperfections, makes you look like you're constantly in flattering lighting, and manages your 401k account. So far, I'm very impressed. Is it worth the sticker shock? Time will tell. But it got me thinking about beauty splurges, those products that catch your eye in magazines, at the department store or on Pinterest, that you file away in your mental wish list and maybe treat yourself to eventually. Fancy skincare, decadent shower products, those really insanely expensive macadamia hair products at the drugstore. What's on your beauty wish list?


3 stylish books to inspire your look

When you were a kid, did your school have book fairs? Oh, I loved those. I remember circling titles in the Scholastic catalogues we got in advance and going in with the exact amount of money I'd need. I think it was at a book fair that I got my first beauty book, Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty. Since then, I've picked up a lot of beauty and style books.

Here are three fashion guides worth checking out.

The Style Mentors by Elyssa Dimant 

Fashion archetypes! I'm such a sucker for anything that smacks of personality typing. This is part history book, part fashion porn and is laid out beautifully. It's divided into eight sections with profiles of celebrities who define each archetype: Icons, Mavericks, Sirens, Gamines, Bohemians, Minimalists, Rockers and Classicists. I'm all about the Siren silhouette and attitude, the Rocker's overstated glamour and the Bohemian's girlishness and whimsy.

That Extra Half An Inch by Victoria Beckham

Long live Queen Victoria. I just love love love Posh. You'd think the woman who famously looks like a supermodel whenever she steps off a plane wouldn't have relatable fashion advice, but her tips are practical. She's not patronizing, she's not exclusively rattling off designers an average person can't afford. Her principles for how pieces should fit are right on the moolah. The book covers everything from dressing for special occasions to tattoos to pregnancy and post-pregnancy style. Her "don'ts" aren't snobby or restrictive, and her tone is dishy and funny. I'm going to stop now, because I'm mad for the woman.

Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange

While too much of this book is about shopping and attractions if you actually find yourself in Paris, I love the general aesthetic it promotes. French women know how to dress well, managing to look sophisticated, glamorous yet understated, with some offbeat touches. Wearing your diamonds and Converse sneaks at the same time? I'm so there!


FOTD: Edgy liner that took way too much time

This look made me realize that I really need to restock on gel liner. My Revlon Colorstay marker liner is my favorite for creating a cat eye, but for adding a second wing on each eye? Rubbish. With all the wiping away to try again, I spent about an hour on this. Then I decided to line in white around the black liner. That made me like the look a lot more — somehow this reminds me of comic book art.

The lips are done with a Benefit Sugarbomb gloss that I got in the most recent Birchbox. It's not thick or tacky at all, but has this lovely gel-like consistency that makes me rub my lips together constantly, probably making me look like I'm having muscle spasms. Not an ideal look! Is there any way to break that bad habit, like one would tackle the vice of biting their nails?


Sunday Pinspiration No. 12: Happy happy joy joy!

For a time, I went through a phase when I'd wake up in the morning and cry. First thing. I was that miserable.

I believe I'm a naturally happy person who happens to struggle with low moods and anxiety. In life, I have 99 problems and a bitch is always one. And 99 percent of the time, the bitch is me. It took me years to see how flawed I was, and I'm still working on accepting that being flawed is acceptable.

Happiness has become an industry and a competition. People feel unhappy that they aren't happier, because they assume they're alone in the way they feel. I don't know a lot, but I know this: 1) Happy people aren't happy 100 percent of the time, and 2) Unhappy moments can always be improved. So I try to own the dark as much as I own the light, make it into comedy if I can (and usually, it's pretty easy!) and I try to be nice to other people because I know everyone has their own struggles.

It helps to have an overwhelming number of things that make you happy! For me, that includes pictures of baby animals, cuddling and kissing, geekery, crafts, music, reading and laughing until my abs are sore and my face hurts. When I feel insecure, I look to women like Dita Von Teese and Rebel Wilson, who on the surface seem like polar opposites but are both confident, glamorous and hella talented. They own who they are, and that's the sexiest, most inspiring thing ever!

So if there's any reason that you're sad and you happen to be reading this, know that there's a girl in Pittsburgh who would give you the biggest and best hug if you were here, and then would show you Judd Apatow movies and Kids React videos and feed you pizza and cupcakes!


Video: Makeup to hide your hangover

I don't drink much. One reason is that I tend to make a fool of myself (ask anyone I went to college with about the "John Tucker incident"). But I do have shameful sleep habits. If you drink too much or don't sleep enough, the result is that you wake up in the morning — of afternoon — looking dreadful.

This tutorial shows you how to look fresh and youthful so that you can evaluate your life choices without people around you feeling the need to weigh in about how horrible you look. Key points: Use dewy products, keep colors around the eyes light and cover your dark circles like a pro.

Products mentioned:

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer

Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation

NARS Laguna Illuminator

Tarte Cheek Stain in True Love

NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray

Physicians Formula Concealer Twins

Physicians Formula Powder Finish Concealer in Cover Green

Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer

Real Techniques brushes

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Inked in Pink

MAC Eye Kohl in Fascinating

Maybelline Define-A-Lash Waterproof Mascara

MAC brow pencil in Stud

NYX Round Lipstick in Rose

Physicians Formula Happy Booster powder in Translucent

How do you mask a rough (or too fun!) night? Tell me tell me tell me! And make good decisions as you head into the weekend!


Curlformers, can I kiss you?

My last relaxer was on July 31, so my transition is in its infancy. Because I do nothing half-bootied, I've already experimented with all sorts of styling techniques. Flexirods made my hair look demented, like someone who had escaped from the insane asylum. Bantu knots were uncomfortable, because my hair isn't coarse enough to do without bobby pins, and the results weren't thrilling. Curling irons are more of what I'm trying to avoid.

After much practice and repeat trips to Sally for more packs, I have found my happy place with Curlformers.

Ooh yeah, mothers, better lock up your sons!

Curlformers are expensive but, I think, worth the investment for the results. You take a section of your hair when it's wet — the smaller the better, or else you'll end up ripping a chunk of your hair out — hook it near the root with the styling rod — sold separately, por supuesto — and pull it through a curler. The curler snaps back into place. Then, you either walk around like a silly goose all day until it dries, or you sit under a dryer. That's what I prefer, because I endure just a half hour of miserable heat while reading a book, and then pull them off. Boom.

The colors correspond to the direction of the curl. Ignore the orange one, because I just grabbed random ones from the wide-size pack I have for the back. To curl the hair away from your face with the narrow size, you want the green ones on your left and the blue ones on the right.

When they're out, you'll look like a really fancy poodle. This is when I spray half a can of hairspray, and then I rake through with my fingers or a comb to separate the curls and make them really wispy and piecey. Then I use the rest of the can of hairspray. (Not really, but damn near close.)

A coworker stopped at my desk today to exclaim, "What a cute head of curly hair!" I'm madly in love with the results. River Song, eat your heart out.


I'm going to have to read this book*

I'd read about this book by Debora Spar in one of the lady mags (I think it was Glamour), but this interview with her in The New York Times makes me REALLY want to read it.

It's called Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection. You know that infuriating question, "Can women have it all?" that manages to be belittling while setting the bar way too high? Yeah. The one that makes me feel miserable when my laundry is piled too high, I'm behind on my "adulting" (don't even get me started on trying to buy a car that'll pass the stupid Pennsylvania inspection) or I lose a subscriber on YouTube knowing full well that any random cat has more success on the site than I do.

Spar, who is president of the super-selective, all-female Barnard College, preaches the value of settling for good enough in your career, family life, etc., instead of brutalizing yourself to being the best at all of it. I have to lift this one quote directly from the interview (which you can read in full here) because the context is so necessary. It's about why Spar decided to have a breast reduction:
"I was walking in National Airport, I had a very big interview. It was actually with the C.I.A. I was feeling very professional, and I was wearing my graduation suit, sensible shoes and I had this briefcase. There was a man walking towards me in the airport, a good-looking older man. And as he passed me, he said, 'Wow, what a pair of tits.' I said, That’s it, they’re going off."
Can I get a hearty WTF to that? She had painful, major surgery because she thought a pair of big knockers would compromise her career.

Being a chick is hard. The contradictory demands we put on ourselves make me dizzy. I hope to God that my beauty blogging doesn't feed into the pressure to look a certain way, on top of all the other pressure we endure to try to have the kinds of lives that obnoxious Facebook statuses trick us into thinking are possible.

*All that being said, my overambitious reading list is THIS BIG, so I'm letting myself off the hook as far as when I get around to actually reading this, as brilliant as it sounds! I don't HAVE to do anything but stay tan and die.

Video: Adored Items No. 4

Ring the alarm! It's beauty favorites time!


Sunday Pinspiration No. 11 — Nerding out for black and white, graphic makeup

Last night, I was so blown away by the creative black and white makeup looks I pinned for this board that I grabbed some black liner and started doodling on my face.

I didn't come up with anything nearly as good as these (the face QR code and the face within the face just killed me dead), but I'll work out some cool looks for you guys as Halloween approaches.

I'm taking this as a challenge to really up my makeup ante. Makeup artistry fascinates me, but I'm the first to admit that even the boldest smokey eye is pretty tame compared with what the real pros can accomplish. And I'm the kind of nutter who, when she sees someone rock at something, says, I have to be that good at that RIGHT NOW. I'm sure there's something pathological about that. We can't all be Samantha Chapman. But it's not such a horrible flaw to want to try, right?


Loosing my curls: Am I doing this right? + BackThatAzzUp

About a month ago, I decided to quit the creamy crack and grow out my relaxer, setting my curls free after 17 years of straightening.

So far, I feel like I'm doing it all wrong.

It's hard to be stoked about my curls when my hair is still straight. Even when I style it curly to experiment with techniques I'll use after my transition, I know that the result doesn't necessarily reflect what my hair will look like naturally.

But I press on, or rather, I don't. I've barely used my flatiron. What I've been pleased to discover is that I don't really love my hair when it's straight. It looks flat and boring. It's a pain to get it looking right. When I curl it, there's no concern about a hair being out of place because they are all out of place. 

The bizarre thing is, I love how my hair looks, but I have yet to think I look good with my hair curly. I feel like there's just so much of me now — big hair, big glasses — and I resent feeling like I have to change my makeup and jewelry, too. Otherwise, I look like this:

Just NO
That screenshot is from a video I refused to upload, because I think I just look cray as hell. WTF, Lizzie? 

Maybe I just need to get comfortable with my new look.

As for styling. Like I mentioned, I flatiron very rarely. I use a curling iron sometimes to define curls, but I hold it for maybe five seconds as opposed to the 30+ I used to do. (I'm trying to not become addicted to a curling iron in place of a straightening iron.) I've been using overpriced but sort of awesome Curlformers on damp hair and sitting under a dryer instead of my previous blow dry and flatiron routine when I wash my hair. Basically, you take a section of your hair, put it on a hook, and feed it through a twisty tube while trying to not yank it right off your scalp. I also tried sleeping with the Curlformers in. NEVER AGAIN. No one should have to try to sleep through such pain. I'm co-washing more often (using a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo) and just doing anything I can to strengthen the relaxed hair.

The reason? Where the relaxed hair meets new growth, or the line of demarcation, is fragile and prone to breakage. Since I'm doing a long transition and not chopping off the relaxed part, because I'm scared of having short hair, it's in my best interest to prevent breakage along the fragile point and ending up with short hair anyway. As I write this, a vague image of a dream I think I had last night is springing up. I think I had a nightmare that I was losing giant chunks of my hair. Brain, why you hate me? I had similar awful dreams about teeth when I had braces.

I have so much to learn about products. I'm baffled every time I reach for a bottle. Like, hairspray: good or bad? I have no clue! I hope it's not too bad, since I've been using a quarter of a can on it to hold my curls in place.

In other news, it's FRIDAY! That means nothing to your journo pal Liz, because I'm off Wednesday and Thursday, making today my Monday. But I'm still going to #backthatazzup with I Wore Yoga Pants.

I live for 16-year-old musical genius and icon in the making Lorde and her clever roasting of hip hop culture, Royals.

Royals by Lorde on Grooveshark

Let me be your ruler. You can call me Queen Bee.


Sunday Pinspiration No. 10

Hey guys! The widget builder on Pinterest is not working! So I can't embed Sunday's board.

But you can still go see the board at I "shopped" Pinterest with a hypothetical fortune and pinned all the lovely stuff I could find in women's fashion. There are beaded gowns on the runway, pink Louboutins, Chanel bags and zebra-print leggings. If Pinterest decides to figure its life out, I'll update this post with the widget.

Happy Sunday!

UPDATE: It's about time!


Beauty "Would you rather..." questionnaire

Hey guys! I found this little beauty survey on From Head to Toe and had a good time filling it out and imagining some truly heinous worst-case beauty scenarios!

1. Would you rather lose all of your mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks, and lipglosses or lose all of your palettes and eyeshadows? 

Even though I've invested more in my palettes and eyeshadows, losing pretty much everything else on my vanity table would be too high a price to pay.

2. Would you rather chop off all your hair or never be able to cut it again? 

Chop it off. I don't think I would look good with a pixie cut, but you know, I'll try anything once. Plus, since I'm currently transitioning, eventually I will have to do a big chop to get rid of my relaxed hair.

3. Would you rather have a coral cheek or a pink cheek? 

Pink goes with more, I guess, but I love coral blushes. Let's go with pink.

4. If you had $1,000 to spend, would you rather buy clothes or makeup? 

Clothes. My favorite places to buy clothes are J. Crew and Target. And I like Francesca's Collections, Forever 21, White House Black Market, New York and Company, among loads more. But you're KILLING ME by saying I can't buy any makeup.

5. Would you rather apply lipstick as eyeliner, or eyeliner as lipstick? 

Eyeliner as lipstick.

6. Would you rather only shop at MAC or Sephora? 

Oh, Sephora by a lot. I'm not very brand loyal and like to mix it up.

7. Would you rather only use one eyeshadow color or one lip color for the rest of your life? 

One eyeshadow color.

8. Would you rather wear winter clothes in summer or summer clothes in winter?

Most evil question ever. Winter clothes in summer. I'm from Florida, and maybe my Caribbean ancestry would kick in with some kind of mental air conditioning.

9. Would you rather have dark nails or bright nails all year round? 


10. Would you rather give up your favorite lip product or your favorite eye product? 

I don't think I have a favorite of either! Let's say I'd give up a favorite lip product, but not if this ran concurrently with question 7.

11. Would you rather only be able to wear your hair in a ponytail or a messy bun? 


12. Would your rather never be able to paint your nails again or never use lipgloss?

Never paint my nails again. I got really into polish just in the last few months, and I frequently have to take breaks to get my nails back in shape when polish slaughters them.

13. Would you rather shave your eyebrows and have none at all or Sharpie them in every day?

At least if I had a Sharpie, I could work on a technique to make them look decent. But having NO eyebrows? Ain't nobody got time for that! This is such a hard question because I hate unnaturally drawn-on brows.

14. Would you rather live without makeup or nail polish?

Take all my polishes, but touch my makeup, and I will break your face.


3 chick flicks you need to stream yesterday

I think a lot of people haven't been privileged enough to see a quality chick flick. Lucky for you, boo boo child, I'm not one of them. I've seen them all. Here are three of my awesome favorites.

Easy A

I think The Little Mermaid must have had a lingering effect on me, because 1) I married a guy named Eric, just like Ariel's prince, and 2) I'm obsessed with redheads and have dyed my hair every shade of crimson on the drugstore shelf. That's part of the reason I'm nuts about gingeriffic Emma Stone, who on top of being adorable can act her booty off.

So Stone, who we're supposed to believe is a high school nobody named Olive, pretends to have loud, filthy sexy times with her gay friend at a party so their stupid homophobic classmates will think he's straight and stop bullying him. Then another dude asks for the fictitious hookup, and another, and another, until poor Olive gets labeled the school slut without ever actually getting any!

Penn Badgley plays her sensitive and funny love interest. Amanda Bynes plays the mean girl, pre-psychotic breakdown. Stanley Tucci, who can do no wrong, plays her dad. Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocket Full of Sunshine" is played a lot. And Emma rocks killer corsets with her own scarlet "A" while saying scandalous and clever things. It's very quotable.

One of the morals of the story is one of the truths I live my life by: Be in on the joke. Olive quips and snarks her way through horrific humiliation, and gets her perfect 80s movie ending as a reward.

For A Good Time, Call ...

Lauren Anne Miller, who answers to Mrs. Seth Rogen, proves her hubby isn't the only one in the house who wears the clown pants in this insanely raunchy and fabulous romp that she co-wrote. You've got bubbly Ari Graynor as unstoppable bombshell Katie, and Miller as her uptight roommate, Lauren.

Lauren shacks up with her college enemy Katie after she gets dumped by her boyfriend for being "boring." Her life implodes further when she loses her job. She finds out Katie has secretly been working as a phone sex operator out of her bedroom. Seeing a job prospect, Lauren encourages Katie to start her own hotline and let her run the business side. Eventually, the explicit exchanges start to sound like the perfect way for Lauren to prove how not boring she is, and their hotline gets a second operator.

Miller's real-life husband is one of the kings of the bromance genre, and the best friends in this movie have what I consider a girlmance/broad-mance — an onscreen female friendship not limited to manicures and well-mannered, giggly conversations about boys. These girls fall in love with each other — not in a romantic way, but in a "I'd help you hide the body if you murdered someone and then take you out for a drink so we'd have an alibi" way. Inappropriate hilarity ensues.

There's a big subplot twist for Katie that I didn't see coming that makes her far more interesting and complex. Graynor is so talented that it makes me a little bit sick.

Pitch Perfect

I don't watch Glee. I saw the Britney Spears episode because I unironically, unapologetically love me some Britney, but that's it. Still, I can assert Pitch Perfect isn't Glee for the college set. It's more like Bring It On with singing and dancing. 

The only flaw with this movie is the gross-out bodily function gag that seems mandatory for any chick flick trying to appeal to dudes (think the food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids). I'll forgive it. 

Anna Kendrick plays a loner college freshman who stays in her dorm making epic track mash-ups instead of going to class. She joins an a cappella group on campus begrudgingly after being strongarmed into it by a naked Brittany Snow. She's courted by scrumptious Skylar Astin. He's a member of the rival group the Treblemakers, who gets no love for most of the movie because Kendrick's character has got major baggage about human interaction.

Rebel Wilson stole the whole movie. Her confidence is off the charts. The part could have been a throwaway stock character just there for cheap laughs, but Rebel crushes it

And then there's the singing and dancing. Can I please be in a competitive a cappella group? It looks so fun. The music selection rocked. I thought they did a really good job of making the performances seem like something that a bunch of students could come up with without the aid of a professional film choreographer. 

I could go on and on about this movie, but I won't. However, I must mention the meta theme about movies that stir your emotions, introduced by Astin's character and his obsession with film soundtracks and triumphant endings like in The Breakfast Club. The Grand Romantic Gesture in Pitch Perfect is the last word in grand romantic gestures. It's that spectacular. 


Subtle gradient lip, two ways

The Korean style gradient lip is meant to give lips an innocent, just-ate-a-cherry-lollipop look. I've seen it look beautiful. But sometimes, when the contrast is very beige against very red on the inner part of the lips, it just sort of looks like you have the flu. 

A gradient lip where the outer edges are dark is flattering, because the lighter shade in the center makes the lips look plump and pouty without straying into the duck-face territory that comes with using liner to fake a bigger lip shape. Think of it as contouring for your lips.



To keep it from looking dated, make sure the shades are fairly close to each other on the spectrum. Focus on doing a pretty thick section (a little less than the outer third on either side) with the darker shade, not a skinny outline, on the corners of the lips, then taper that out as you approach the cupid's bow and the center of the bottom lip. The look you're avoiding is the skinny black liner surrounding red lipstick. Blend blend blend the edges where different shades meet to create a subtle dimensional illusion. Illusions, Michael!

In the first look, I used MAC Rebel, a purple-toned red, for my dark shade and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Anime. In the tubes, they don't seem that similar, but the purple and neon pink worked great together and looked seamless. In the second look, I did more of a conventional outline with MAC Brick liner, then used NARS Heat Wave blended into Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up. The dark red into red-orange into coral is a more obvious contrast than the first look, but it's still understated (or as understated as a bright red lip can be!).

I dig this look so much that I can't wait to try it with more contrasting shades! Have you ever done a gradient lip? Do you prefer similar shades or throw caution to the wind?


Sunday Pinspiration No. 9

Words save me and they undo me. I've always loved words — I write for fun, I edit words for a living, "words of affirmation" is my primary love language, and I take a lot of comfort in reading. Words also get me in tricky spots because I assume everyone sees words the way I do, and I let my anxiety take over and interpret stuff people say to me in the worst possible way. People who know me really well understand this, but I know that I'm very demanding about having stuff spelled out for me!

Typography is awesome. I think it's cool that words can be visual art just as much as they can paint pictures in your imagination. And I love a good inspirational quote. So this week, I pinned a bunch of quotes and cool typography for you. Happy Sunday and have an awesome week ahead.