Monday

When in doubt, wear red lipstick


That phrase that I loathe — "I can't pull that off" — is frequently uttered about red lipstick. We need to remedy this. Even I feared scarlet, but now there's nothing that makes me feel more vibrant and glamorous than a red lip. There are so many options that you would be crazy not to try to search for a great red for you.

Some tips on application:

1. Prep. Any red will look horrible on cracking lips. You can get a lip scrub, use a new toothbrush, apply Vaseline and work it off with a slightly rough paper towel, etc. Once you've exfoliated, put on some lip balm and do the rest of your makeup so the moisture can sink in. Gently wipe that off and apply your lipstick. You can use a lipliner for staying power, but I usually don't have the time. Applying is time-consuming as it is.

2. Go slow. Use a lip brush. It doesn't have to be a fancy one. This will help you with precision. You can build up both the intensity and the shape of your lips gradually with less room for error. Once you get it right, you can blot, add more lipstick straight from the bullet, and blot again.

3. Clean and maintain. Smooth out the edges with the lip brush after applying from the bullet (told you this was time-consuming). Stick your finger in your mouth, close your lips around it and pull it out to remove excess color that could get on your teeth. Be aware when eating that you're likely to transfer lipstick from the bottom lip to your chin when you take big bites, so opt for a fork if possible. To touch up, blot off most of the lipstick and either reapply, or use lip balm over the leftover stain.

With that in mind, here are my seven picks for your consideration, swatched on my lips, plus some alternatives:


Here are some more swatches, plus some descriptions and alternates:
 

Swatches from left: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Mightiest Maraschino, MAC Red, Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora, NARS Heat Wave, Lancome Curtain Call, NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg, MAC Diva

The Beginner Red:
A red gloss like Buxom's Candy Apple or MAC Russian Red is a good place to start if you're nervous about rocking crimson. For lipstick precision in a really comfortable, slightly sheered out finish, try Clinique's Chubby Stick Intense in Mightiest Maraschino.

The True Red:
Blue-toned reds make teeth look whiter and flatter every skin tone. My favorite in this category is MAC Red. It has the brand's Satin finish, is intense and opaque and has a bit of a sheen without the low staying power a creamier lipstick would have.

The Extra Special Red:
A new discovery is Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora. It has a golden metallic finish — the perfect, festive red. This is so gorgeous on and lingers forever, leaving behind a pretty, pink stain.

The Orangey Red:
Orange reds liven up complexions (just steer clear if your teeth aren't as white as you'd like — orange can make them look yellow). I think they are beautiful on all complexions and wonderful for all seasons, but especially during the hotter months. Bare Mineral Marvelous Moxie in Live It Up (which I swatched here) is a great option. I wasn't wild about Maybelline's Neon Red, but it's a budget option available to you if you're unsure about the tone. Featured here is NARS Heat Wave. I'm obsessed with the color but loathe the drying matte formula. Carry lip balm for this one.

The Berry Red:
Lancome Curtain Call is a purplish red that isn't as intense as MAC Rebel. You might describe it as raisin. It has a frost finish, sort of the same concept as Kat Von D's Foiled Love lipsticks.

The Watermelon Red:
NARS Satin Lip Pencils are among the most impressive lip products I've tried this year. I did a first impressions post when I tried some on at a Cos Bar and settled on Luxembourg. The shade is not a full-on red. There's a lot of pink in it, but calling it hot pink is inaccurate. It's a really interesting color in a formula that feels nicer on my lips than almost everything. It's flawless.

The Vampy Red:
My friend Luis loves to show off an item of clothing or an accessory (typically something designed for a woman or with Hello Kitty all over it) and ask, "Does this make me look more or less dangerous?" A dark, almost brown red like MAC's Diva is what you wear if you want to look more dangerous. Diva is a femme fatale shade, like grown-up goth, when you get rid of your wallet chains and start wearing neo Victorian corsets. This lipstick will make you feel like you need a corset and petticoats and all black everything.

Do any of these reds sing to you? I hope so! Let me know what your favorite red is in the comments. Make sure you subscribe to my channel for more beauty stuff.

My idea of sexy

Entertainment has always shaped how I see my world.


The moment in Bedazzled when Brendan Fraser meets Elizabeth Hurley rewired my neural pathways.

That other Liz ingrained herself in this Liz's consciousness as the dictionary definition of sexy.

I loved that movie back when we all still had VHS collections, and I have never forgotten the impact of that simple red dress and Hurley's mysterious and dangerous come-hither look. It was easy to forget the woman was the devil and be enraptured through the whole movie by her complete control of herself, her unflinching confidence and her wicked wit. But that was the whole point, wasn't it?


She was a wild creature with a poised exterior. She sauntered about in red sequined bikinis and leather catsuits but never looked vulgar. She was all plump lips and tick tock hips, smirking and smizing and being so delightfully British. 

Of course, there's a time and a place for that version of sex appeal, and I watched a lot of TV. Looking at my closet and personality now, I must acknowledge that I am who I am in large part because of Fran Drescher.


Why are you laughing? Did you even watch The Nanny? Because if you did, you'd know that when Miss Fine appeared at the top of that regal staircase in some loud, skintight outfit, it was glorious. Fran never looked boring or bored. She was warm, goofy and never changed herself to fit in to anyone else's notions. She had style! She had flair! She was the lady in red when everyone else was wearing tan! She was perfection.

I once had a habit of sitting on people's desks to chat that I'm realizing came straight from Fran. When I would wear heels to work and people would ask how the hell I could walk in those things, I remembered the episode when Fran was trying to talk her date off a ledge and didn't take her heels off before climbing out, because she said it would make her lose her balance completely. I live for my bathrobe and say, "YES! I'm going to wear THAT!" to crazy patterns that my friends side-eye me about. Fran's influence is all over my closet and my sense of humor. While Elizabeth Hurley taught me how to play it cool, Fran Drescher taught me how to embrace all the ways I wasn't cool.


Another lasting influence on my ideas of femininity and smokin' hotness was Shakira. Being of Latin American descent, I grew up listening to Shakira's music long before her crossover in the United States, when she was weirdly marketed as Colombia's version of Britney Spears.


Now, I love me some Britney, but Shakira was not our Britney. In reality, I always thought of her more like the Latin American version of Alanis Morissette. Shakira is a gifted lyricist who really influenced my writing and my taste in music. She never relied on clich├ęs. Her sound wasn't bound to one narrow genre.  She had this amazing mix of bravado and vulnerability when she sang about relationships. She's the reason I took bellydancing classes — I admired what she could do with her body a lot more than how it looked. But while we're on the subject of looks, she's also the reason I was always dyeing my hair crazy colors.

And while I'm glad for her success here because she's so freaking talented, my Shakira will always be this one, before the blonde hair and the Weezy collaborations.


Care to share who you looked up to as the ultimate in sexy? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday

Practice practice practice! Pic spam to break in my DSLR

Hey, dollface. I'll have a real post tomorrow, but today, I'm testing out how some of the shots from my brand new Canon Rebel T3i look on the blog. I'm so excited! I'm getting used to tinkering with the aperture and different shooting modes, and am stunned by how much better these look than my iPhone 5 photos. I'm especially interested in getting my closeups on point so I can bring you fabulous swatch photos, hence why I'm tormenting you with bizarre shots of knitting and Christmas tree ornaments! 









Enjoy the last moments of your weekend!

Wednesday

Sponsored: See clearly and save at GlassesUSA.com

This post is sponsored by GlassesUSA.com. All opinions are my own.

I learned a few months ago how ridiculously expensive prescription specs can be. Glasses are an important investment, but my wallet took a beating!

I was recently introduced to GlassesUSA.com. If you're shopping for eyeglasses online, I encourage you to check them out. The website's great deals have me thinking that I can afford a prescription pair of sunglasses now!

GlassesUSA.com recently contacted me to spread the word about the site and offer a promo code to my readers. I love the way the site is set up and how many options you have for narrowing down specs you'll like. For instance, there's a cute personality quiz that I took a few times that matches you with frames to suit your tastes and lifestyle. You can also search by frame features and measurements. These options are available through the Virtual Optician feature.


There are so many stylish eyeglasses on the site. I love these rounded cat eyes with a black exterior and blue interior. And check out these white wayfarers, which are so J. Crew style guide. And I love this classic pair for the gents.

GlassesUSA.com has given me some promo codes to pass along to readers who want to buy glasses! You can take 15% off storewide and get free shipping on orders of more than $50 with code FS15, and you can save 10% off prescription glasses with code BLOG10.

Scared to get something that'll be on your face all the time without trying it on first? The website has a handy dandy virtual try-on feature that I've included below.




Are you treating yourself to some adorably geeky specs in the new year?

Monday

Revitalize your style in the new year

Revitalize your style


Play with a new palette. I'm realizing I wear a ton of blue. It's not even my favorite color, but it's everywhere I look in my closet! That gets boring. Try a new signature color or set of colors. If you're all about bold colors, put your multicolored handbag in a safe spot in your closet and try a camel one on for size. You might hate it, or you might find yourself seeing everything you already own and pieces in stores with fresh eyes.

Embellish. Scarves finish an outfit and are inexpensive. Get solid scarves in every color if you wear a lot of patterns, and patterned scarves if you wear solids. Shoe clips are something I can't believe I just found out about that I am now desperate to play with. 



DIY. Cut dresses into shirts, take the sleeves off old sweaters to make arm warmers, add lace trim to a pair of shorts you rarely wear and upcycle unworn necklaces by taking them apart carefully with pliers and combining the pieces you like onto a new chain. Check out sites like Brit + Co. and P.S. I Made This for a ton of "I never would have thought of that" wardrobe customization ideas.

Channel an era. I went mod early in college with bangs, shift dresses with geometric prints and white liquid liner. No, you can't see pictures. But I had the right idea to be inspired by an archetype or a moment in fashion history. You don't have to wear a full-on Marilyn Monroe costume if you admire how she looked. Try on an hourglass dress that hugs your curves for fancy outings, then toss a T-shirt over it on errand days. Be brave enough to bring back classics in fresh ways.

Go thrift shopping. It's easy to justify experimenting if the shirt you're unsure about is $3. I don't have a ton of experience with thrift shopping, but the jumpsuit I love is from an adorable South Side Pittsburgh vintage shop, and I've found gorgeous barely worn tops at the Goodwill.

Extrapolate your uniform. Think of what makes you feel great, the silhouettes you gravitate to out of habit. You don't have to ditch that to update your wardrobe. Say you wear your favorite miniskirt so often that you worry people think you never do laundry. That item obviously works great for you, so why not find something similar in a different fabric or pattern? I own black Toms in canvas, crochet and glitter because I can't get enough of the comfy shoes, and I think black is easy. I'm also a cardigan queen who buys up the same style I like in every color. Sometimes, the best way to update your style is to refine it, pinpointing the types of clothes you won't get sick of after two wears.

Thursday

What I really want for Christmas

Today, the high in Pittsburgh is 19 degrees. It feels like 6. Staying home would be a dream, but I work 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. or 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. most nights.

The strange hours give me time to sleep in and get errands done during the day. It's fantastic. Except on days like today, when I know I will stumble out of work, desperate for sleep, and step into a single-digit frost-fest. I am from Florida. We don't know how to deal with this.

Can't I just stay home, and someone could bring me a pair of these?


Not the tall people. I don't need a pair of those, seeing that I am always surrounded by tall people reminding me of my proper place in the world as a little lass of 5'2". I'm talking about the ridiculous, cozy hooded and footed pajamas, which I saw on Reddit and are available here. Or maybe this tie-dyed set that's sold out at the moment. Or this floral print. Just prop me up on the couch with a mug of Ovaltine, a book and my footed jammies, and I will recharge from my debilitating anxiety in no time, ready to face all the stressful adult stuff I've been putting off re: buying a house and making my current one presentable.

Even better, why don't you be a good girl or boy and make me a cup of Butterbeer? We've been experimenting with recipes and with store-bought and homemade butterscotch (my husband is a chef, so he insists on quality over convenience). Just add some cream soda to your melted butterscotch and butter, and voila. Magic.



Just please, don't make me go out there:

What. The. BALLS.
Another item I'd be thrilled to get would be a big girl camera so that I can take more excellent blog photos and make better YouTube videos. I was in love with photography when I was doing stuff for my photojournalism class in college, but like so much in life, I haven't carved out the time for it. (Can someone put some type of chip in my brain that makes me no longer need sleep, so that I can work for a living and make time for yoga, writing, reading, knitting, photography, TV and all my loved ones every single day?)


Or how about a MacBook Air? I've had my white MacBook for six or seven years. I think I'm due for an update.

And since I have extra jiggle jiggle boing boing to work off, I've been asking for a multipass to get back into a rigorous yoga practice. Just for pure ooh-I'm-so-daring fun, I'd love to take a pole fitness class here. My girlfriends took me to one just for our group during my bachelorette party in Orlando. It was a blast and I was sore as all hell. Those acrobatic dancers don't mess around. Damn, I'd even settle for some Zumba DVDs. And a gift certificate for the discipline to get out of bed early and work out.

You know what? I'm asking for too much. Just get me my footie pajamas and we'll go from there.

Tuesday

NARS Sheer Glow foundation in Barcelona review


Before I can say anything positive about NARS Sheer Glow foundation, I have to get this out of the way: What nerve must a company have to charge $44 for a foundation that does not come with a pump? And then selling the "optional" pump for $6? That makes me quite angry:



But now, I'm going to take a deep, healing breath and tell you that this foundation is pretty great. I wear the shade Barcelona, which was one of my matches using the Sephora + Pantone Color IQ system. Barcelona is described by NARS as medium with a golden, peachy undertone. When I first tried it, I thought it was too yellow, but it settles down significantly once blended into my skin.

Upon first application, I was blown away. I had to use the tiniest dot for my entire face, and I looked radiant. Even where it didn't cover my hyperpigmentation completely — this being a buildable, medium coverage formula — it had a blurring effect that caught the light perfectly, making my blemishes less obvious. It was my skin but better.

First time using the formula
The wear time is average. I have to blot or powder in the middle of the work day because it starts looking greasy. Primer helps. There are 20 shades to choose from, with pink, yellow or a mix of undertones, so my very pale friends and darker-skinned girls aren't left out as is often the absurd norm. (Note that the Sephora website lists only 17 of the shades, which is why I linked to the NARS site.)

I've tried applying this with all my Real Techniques brushes and the Beautyblender. I may have mentioned before that I tried the Beautyblender and it didn't blow me away, but I think that is my favorite method for applying Sheer Glow. The foundation is so fluid that using a brush requires extra effort so you avoid visible brushstrokes. Below, I've applied it with a Real Techniques Buffing Brush, with no primer. The left picture is my bare face, and the right is after applying foundation but before doing anything else.

Left: No makeup. Right: With NARS Sheer Glow foundation in Barcelona

It looks more cakey on places where my skin is dry. That's counterintuitive, because I know anyone with oily or combination skin is wary of products that advertise themselves as making you "glow." However, I think you do need to be well-moisturized for this foundation to do an optimal job for you.

Would I repurchase? Perhaps. The lack of pump and prohibitive price give me pause, but it's a good everyday foundation and I have mixed it with my beloved baby Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation, with nice results. I'd restock if I had a discount code. 

If you're curious about what other products I'm using in the top photo, I've got on MAC Diva matte lipstick, did a hasty powder with my Guerlain Meteorites, my go-to winged liner and my Bobbi Brown corrector under the eyes. A review on that is coming soon, I think — I really really love it!

Would you or have you tried NARS Sheer Glow? Let me know what foundation you're loving for winter in the comments!

Monday

What I'm building in 2014

I do not make New Year's resolutions. I like to reflect on how I want to be better and what I want more of in my life, and I was inspired by Alexandra Franzen to do that in a more deliberate way, that still doesn't feel like a to-do list.

Nugget of brilliance from The Self Help Hipster


On this blog, I'm building:

A funny and fun, from-the-heart and bullshit-free environment.

A place to go when you need a cheerleader to remind you that you are awesome.

A source of new ideas and discussions, and a way of looking at the familiar from a different angle. Whether you leave my blog with a new TV show to watch or a new lipstick to fall in love with, I want you to leave with more.

More? More! I intend to provide helpful offerings such as:

More outfit posts.

More reviews and swatches.

More ways to indulge your senses — I want to dip my toes into more DIY and lifestyle topics.

In my real life, I will:

Make more time to read fiction, a passion I didn't make enough time for in 2013. I grabbed The Penelopiad by my favorite author, Margaret Atwood, from my too-stuffed to-read shelf.

Make my surroundings more beautiful and organized, and, God willing, buy a house that I can make beautiful AND a solid foundation for my family's future. And about that family? We'd really like one. Maybe in 2014?

More of this guy. Who clearly sleeps through my attacks.

Write. Write more. Repeat.

Enjoy my body. Dancing, yoga, boxing. I want to get hooked on the vitality that comes from not being a couch potato.

Make that money, honey.

That's it. A pretty simple list of goals and desires. Move more, write more, feel more solid, take over the world with my blog. Give the world virtual hugs. Repeat.

Now, the nitty gritty. What do you want more of in 2014? Tell me in the comments what you want to see more of on my blog — for instance, if I do a full beauty for beginners series, what do you want me to talk about? Do you want more face-of-the-day posts? Whatever else comes to mind, do share! And in a broader sense, I want to know what you want more of in your supersexy life.

Let's go big or go home in 2014!

Friday

Lush loves and duds

One of my coworkers has me programmed in her phone as "Liz Lush," because we're both hooked on Lush Cosmetics.

What's not to love? Lush is a delicatessen-style store that smells like floral, fruity bubble bath, with smiling salesgirls and an open invitation to try everything before you buy. Colorful soaps are piled in giant slabs on tables, a little fridge is loaded with cute little tubs of handmade face masks. You walk out feeling pampered, regardless of what's in your goodie bag.

And while writing this post, I found out that Lush is opening spa locations, first in New York and then in Philly, and I'm so intrigued and excited to find out what that's like! (Maybe it'll be open by IMATS New York, which I'm making vague plans to attend?)

I've tried a lot of Lush products this year, so let's talk about some of my favorites and some that didn't make an impression.



Loves

Big Shampoo — This is one of those products that just sounds like a bad idea. Washing your hair with salt? Won't that destroy it? Sure, when you lather up with this citrusy mix with big chunks of sea salt, you need to follow it with a deep conditioner. But that's a small price to pay for PA-POW super sexy volume, shine and curl definition. I can't wait to see this baby in action once my relaxer is all grown out and I'm all curls, all the time.

Coal Face — A charcoal-based soap for blemish-prone skin. A little bar of this has lasted me an exceptionally long time! This is the cleanser to buy if you get pimples and have sensitive skin or are irritated by medicated cleansers.

Dark Angels — Coal Face +. This messy marvel is also charcoal-based, with black sugar and mud for deep cleansing and exfoliation. You can also use this one as a mask by leaving it on a little longer in the shower.

H'Suan Wen Hua — Even though this hair mask, which you put on dry hair before shampooing, has eggs in it for protein, the smell is masked by cinnamon. It's also got bay leaf, which I think is what makes the scalp feel all tingly, mashed bananas, avocado, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I enjoyed it as a once in a while treat to nourish my hair in the early days of transitioning, when my hair was still fried from constant flat ironing.

Brazened Honey — Does it even need saying? This Fresh Face Mask, which you are dying to wash off because it feels so uncomfortable, washes away to reveal skin as soft and smooth as when you were a baby. This is supermodel in a jar. This is like a motivational speaker and energy healer for your face. This makes you fantasize for a glorious moment about throwing out all your foundation and concealer. I'm going to have to go pick up a jar, because remembering how long it's been since I've used this miraculous substance makes my heart flutter.

Lustre — A glittering gold, jasmine-scented dusting powder. This is decadent smoothed onto the decolletage. So decadent that it makes me want to pretend I speak French and just throw around words like decolletage.

Sex Bomb — Everyone should bathe in hot pink, ylang ylang bath water. We'd all be much happier.

Duds

No Drought — To be fair, I've never gotten on with dry shampoo. The sprays that I've tried have made my hair look limp and gummed up, not refreshed. Maybe that's a technique failure that's on me. So I tried the zesty, powder version at Lush, which you sprinkle on your head and work through to absorb oil and volumize. Honestly, in a pinch, I'd rather use baby powder. But it all sucks. I'm not a dry shampoo gal.

Turkish Delight — You have no idea how much I wanted to love this. It's so expensive. Of course I wanted it to be amazing and well worth the price. The rose fragrance is transcendent. It looks and feels luxurious. It sounds luxurious. A shower smoothie?! Can I have six of those? But this is so hard to use, and a little does not go a long way. I felt like I had to rub myself down with half the tub to get any sort of slip in the shower. Even when I used it as a lotion on totally dry skin while I had the steam going, before jumping in the shower, it didn't deliver the magnificent smoothness I was promised.

Catastrophe Cosmetic — The popularity of this face mask on the blogosphere mystifies me. I tried it, and honestly liked my homemade version better. It didn't leave a chalky residue no matter how much you rinse.

Bubble Bars — Meh. The ones I've tried didn't bubble much, even though I pulverized them under running water. Stick with the bath bombs.

American Cream Conditioner — This smells like a milkshake, but its virtue ends there. I found this so useless as a conditioner that I couldn't even bring myself to use up the smallest size. It had no slip and did not help me detangle. I at last resorted to using it to shave my legs. That was a more successful use.

Now it's your turn! Let me know your favorite Lush products in the comments.

Thursday

Confession: I don't love my body. But I'm trying.

The demonic Wii Fit that I refuse to ever step on again, my medical chart and my former bloated-day jeans will all tell you: I've got a little extra jiggle jiggle boing boing.

Still fly.

Ten pounds crept onto my frame. I've been feeling like it's 20, but when I think about complaining about my weight a year or two ago, I realize it's really 10. Three of those 10 pounds pushed me over to "overweight" on the BMI chart, an outdated, BS system that doctors rely on but doesn't actually mean anything.

What does mean something to me — something horrifying — is the word "overweight." The "over" part. The not "normal" part. The term that makes the number that pops up on a little screen on my bathroom scale feel like a big, scarlet F on my forehead. A gold star that I do not earn. A check mark withheld from my list of tasks.

Before you click off and get mad at me for being a shallow bitch, I'd like to point out that this is a Liz-specific shaming that I feel. I am surrounded, in person and on the TV shows I watch, with people of diverse shapes and sizes who I find beautiful. All of them. I would never tell a friend that she needed to lose weight. I would never give feedback to anyone that would make them feel self-conscious or inferior.

And by "anyone," I mean anyone who isn't me.

Isn't it strange how we treat ourselves in ways that we would never treat another living being? I've read enough self-help books to know I'm not the only one with an evil twin whispering mean comments no one else can hear. But I guess that I have been treating people poorly, specifically, my husband, mother and closest friends, who I have become a complete bore to because all I seem to do is complain and seek reassurance.

I know the weight isn't the real issue. I know I'm not doing enough to lose it, and I know that if I were — if I were eating less of the cheesy, gooey crack bread from Giovanni's, if I were doing Sun Salutations every day like I used to — I would feel better. Strong, healthy and alive. Because regardless of whether I'm "overweight," I am definitely feeling sluggish and cranky.

Here's the thing. I know that I am, by a lot of standards, thin or average. I know that if I weren't those things, it's not like someone would take me out back and shoot me. I know that, when I look at older photos of me, I don't look much different, and that people aren't walking around following me and comparing my body now to a picture of me in high school.

When I look at less recent photos of myself, I know that when those were taken, I was probably looking at even older photos and thinking, Look how much thinner I was.

Because that is the story of my life. That is the greatest flaw that I need to overcome, both as a human being and as someone who hopes to one day raise happy, well-adjusted tiny humans. I will never be thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough or anything enough to meet my impossibly high standards for myself.

And let me tell you something. That skinny little girl I used to be? She would come around at the times when I was at the lowest depths of depression and anxiety. My weight goes up when I'm generally happier.

Somewhere, I picked up this belief that I must fit in very narrow constraints in order to be deserving. Maybe it was an abandonment thing, trying to be such a people-pleaser that no one would ever be unkind or leave me. Maybe it was the harassment I experienced. Maybe it's just being female. Maybe — probably — it's the thing that I'm so addicted to: praise. Oh, that guy thinks I'm hot? I better figure out what it is he likes and NEVER CHANGE so he will think I am hot FOREVER. I am twenty fucking five years old, I am a career woman, married to a sweetheart/superfox, have a handful of wonderful, ride-or-die friends and have grown up so much over the years, and I still hold on to my stupid high school mentality about what I HAVE to be.

As I'm typing this, I realize that it's hard to write for reasons that I didn't expect. I expected to feel like I was opening myself to judgment, showing how insecure and petty I really am. But what I didn't expect is to feel like I want to feel better about myself because I want anyone who reads my blog to feel better, too. I want everyone in the whole world to feel beautiful and clever and funny and like they can wear and do anything they want, but how can I convince you that you can when I'm crying about my muffin top? How can my vision for my blog become real if I'm internalizing all the things that I stand against?

So I'm putting this out in the world to increase my accountability. Not my accountability about the amount of yummy, butterscotchy calories that I shove into my mouth. Not my accountability over how much sparring I do with That Bastard Upstairs (our nickname for the punching bag in the attic). I don't want the Internet to cheer me on as silly an endeavor as losing 10 lousy pounds.

I am putting this out there to tell you, Dear Reader, that you deserve to be much kinder to yourself than I am being to myself right now.

That number on the scale is not a grade. No one is deducting points from you for each dimple in your thighs.

I will be more happy and confident if it will spread more positivity into the world. Dat ass, though? It's bigger now, but it's still hot. Those clothes that don't fit? More reason to go shopping. That number on the scale? Motivation to fall back in love with exercise.

There is so much more to all of us. There is so much awesomeness to love.

Please let me know what you think in the comments. What are you insecure about, and how do you deal with it? How do you talk to your friends about each other's insecurities?

Tuesday

Beauty for beginners: Dealing with acne-prone skin

If you're a makeup novice, it's easy to overdo it and wind up looking like, shall we say, a woman of ill repute. Or Bozo the clown.

The best way to not overdo your makeup is to feel comfortable enough in your skin that you don't have the urge to whip up a pancake and serve it on your face. If you, like me, have dealt with breakouts, the urge to hide ALL THE SKIN is familiar.


What works for me, and might for you:

Deep cleansing. Before I bought my Clarisonic, I tried the Olay spinning brush.  It was a pretty nice option for daily exfoliation, with soft bristles and a small shape that I preferred for getting into tricky areas like around the nose. That said, I know of no person who has regretted purchasing a Clarisonic. It is stupid expensive, with an ongoing cost to replace the brush heads, but when I don't use it for a few days, my skin gets dull and ziteous. Buy a spinning or sonic face brush in whatever price range works for you. Your skin will be transformed. Any cleanser you use, even the most plain drugstore formula, will work much better, and moisturizer will absorb into your skin like never before.

Cleansing before deep cleansing. On heavier makeup days, I try to wash or at least wipe the makeup off with a baby wipe before I get the Clarisonic going. I find that getting a good amount of the gunk that's on top of your skin off will help your cleanser/brush/washcloth/whatever reach deeper to get rid of the impurities in the skin.

Lush face masks. Brazened Honey is my holy grail. The others I've tried are OK, but they don't make my face sing hymns. They are inexpensive, and you can get more than the alleged three uses from one tub. Incorporating face masks into your routine is excellent for when your daily routine isn't doing enough.

Moisture. Moisture! Scaly pimples = gross coverage, with foundation getting caught in little patchy crevices and every pore looking like a gaping crater. Plus, moisturizing with something light that won't clog your pores will keep your skin from overproducing sebum, which leads to breakouts. (Check out this xoVain article for a more articulate scientific explanation.) I'm loving the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel because it melts into the skin. All women can benefit from a hydrating serum that doesn't sit greasily atop the skin, and then combine that with a moisturizer that addresses your skin type needs — remember that it's possible to have skin that's dry AND acne-prone, so experiment to find what your skin needs most.

Also, remember that while all you see are your breakouts, a greater percentage of your skin is likely perfect and deserves just as much care and attention as your pimples. So MOISTURIZE!

Skipping unnecessary steps. I've never understood toner. It doesn't do anything but dry out my skin. Just because something comes in a nice little kit with other products doesn't mean you have to use every step in a regimen if it doesn't work for you. 

Switching between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. My skin is a fickle brat about medication, and will stop responding to active ingredients. So I keep multiple options ready to try to reason with my complexion.

Cortisone shot. Here's an example of me being a moron. I once got the most abominable cystic pimple on my chin. I'd never had one of those before, and this was so giant, red and painful that I went to the urgent care center for antibiotics. It helped it go down a bit, but for the next year — yes, year — I spent so much money on medication and concealers and all sorts of crap because the evil creature would not go away completely. I'd whine and cry and complain that my face was ruined forever. Then I FINALLY went to a dermatologist, got a cortisone shot, and the nightmare was over within a week. The shot didn't hurt and took seconds. Suck it up and pay the $120 for a shot if you have the worst pimple of your life, because it might not go away on its own.

One thing that doesn't work: playing dermatologist. This is hand-in-hand with the above paragraph. I get post-acne hyperpigmentation. I've messed around with drugstore bleaching creams to lighten the dark spots, and they did nothing but cause noticeably lighter spots that draw more attention to the hyperpigmentation. The moral of the story: take care of the basics of skincare and consult the pros for your more perplexing concerns.

Focus on your canvas, and our future makeup lessons will be a delight!