Saturday, November 6, 2010

makeup for the cosmetically challenged

So I'm sitting here in my house, not particularly compelled to a)clean b)cook c)knit d)read e)watch football, so I have belatedly recalled that yes, I do have a blog...and no, I haven't written for it in something like a year, so I'm combining this chore with another: the annual winnowing-out of the appalling amount of makeup I collect. Thought I'd write some reviews, in case you are remotely like me, and strangely compelled to purchase such things without the faintest idea if they work. So allow me to edify you, allow me to save you some money, and allow me to tell you that there are, in fact, some things you can't live without. Men: you, too should pay some attention here. I have seen some pretty grim looks on people of the XY persuasion on TV recently. Like it would kill you guys to use some bronzer once in a while? Anyway, here we go.

Primers: These are, without a doubt, the greatest advance in makeup technology in the last 20 years. But there are a zillion of them, and every single one...if you are to read the the best. There actually are some differences and uses for some and not others. Basically, they are silicone-based goop that you put on prior to makeup application that makes the makeup stay put.
Category I: face primers. Best whole-face primer: Spackle, by Laura Geller cosmetics. This stuff is great. Smooths out the lines, fills in the creases, makes your foundation stay put, kills shine dead. Now, people are pretty much evangelical about Smashbox PhotoFinish primer, but I think it's too thin and too silicone-y. The Laura Mercier primer is kind of meh, and overpriced. Spackle ain't cheap, but it lasts forever and it comes in a nifty pump. And it works. I kid you not. I tend to only use this, though, for when I need to do a full-metal-jacket whole-face TV-oriented or "big deal evening out" makeup. It's sort of overkill for every day.

Category II: trouble spot primers. Best in class: Primed and Poreless by Too Faced cosmetics. Lightly tinted, sucks up oil, looks natural if you don't want to wear a full-scale, buffed-out foundation+powder over it. Also, it's fairly cheap for what you get. You only need about a pea-sized amount to do what you need to. No, seriously, you'll be tempted to use more because it's awesome, but if you use too much it will clump up and look kind of...well, like you have some sort of communicable disease. Runner-up: Jemma Kidd mannequin skin complexion enhancer. Kind of pearlized, but not too much. Stays put, mattifies, and is available at Target. A little pricey for what you get. But it's pretty good. Second runner-up: "that gal" brightening face primer by Benefit. Does what it is supposed to do, is a pale pink, looks okay but is better for people who are 1)vampire pale and 2) under 40. You look a little goofy trying to be all dewy-skinned and such when you are toting 40-ish years of disappointments, hangovers and sundry unfortunate incidents under your belt.

Category III: eyelid primers. Make your eye shadow stay on and render it crease-proof. Laura's choice: not a primer at all, actually, but gets the job done: MAC Paint Pot eyeshadow in the shade "Painterly." Put it on first, smooth it out, brightens up the eye, eyeshadow sticks to it like nobody's business and you never get creases. You can just put it on by itself and instantly look like you have had about 5 hours more sleep than you got. Now, I need to throw in here that my sister Amy, whose experience with eye makeup makes me look like a rank amateur, is all about Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. I tried it once and it made my eyelids itch...which is about par for the course with me. I have insanely sensitive eyes. But she swears by the UDEPP, and really, you'll have to take my word for this, she knows what she's talking about. So if you don't have super-sensitive eyes, this stuff is very good, according to someone who knows. My runner up in this category is Shadow Insurance from Too Faced, which I like but seems to run out of gas after about 6 hours. On the other hand, it does not make my eyelids itch, so there's that.

Category IV: eyelash primers. For years, I wondered what the heck was up with me and my strange, impermeable and apparently Teflon-coated eyelashes. I couldn't make any mascara stay put. Waterproof mascara was no match for my eyes. The mascaras that you put on and they turn into little tubes of goo on your lashes? Nope. Slid right off. So I was not much of a mascara-wearer, until I got this TV gig and I had to tell the makeup people that this mascara business? wasn't gonna work on me. And they said, "oh, that happens to everyone. Here, use this." And they gave me some eyelash primer. And the rest, as they say, is history. Best in class: Blinc Lash Primer. You can get it at Beauty Brands or Sephora or Ulta. Big beauty stores tend to have it. Cheap, works great, cute packaging. Done deal. Runner-up: Lorac lash primer. Harder to find, slightly more expensive. Still works great. Forget anything you find in CVS of Walgreens claiming to be a lash primer. Never works. Never.

Well, I could go on like this all day, but I'll cut to the chase, basically letting you know what I'm keeping, out of this mountain of products, because it works. Everything else? Buh-bye. I don't want to end up on an episode of "Hoarders," having collapsed under a mountain of old cosmetics.

Best undereye moisturizer: La Prairie cellular contour eye cream. Upside: actually works to make your wrinkles less crepey and firms up the skin under your eyes. This, I find, makes LPCCEC unique amongst eye creams. Lasts 2 or 3 months, as a little goes a very long way. Downside: costs as much as a good king-size down comforter. Doesn't come in a pump, which is more sanitary and all. Second choice: Avalon Organics Coenzyme Q10 Cellular Renewing Wrinkle Defense. Upside: works okay, moisturizes well, though it's no LPCCEC. Comes in a pump, doesn't make my horribly sensitive eyes sting at all, smells like lavender, is under 20 bucks (!) and you can get it at either your co-op or an grocery store with a good health-foods section. Downside: is not LPCECC. Not particularly good at reducing wrinkles, but at least you're making an effort.
Undereye moisturizers that sting my eyes and/or do not appear to either reduce wrinkles or moisturize? Olay Pro-X. Garnier Nutritioniste. ROC Retinol Undereye Cream. Neutrogena Wrinkle Defense. Clarins Eye Serum. Lancome Eye Serum. Elizabeth Arden Eye Serum. La Mer. Clinique Repairwear Undereye. Estee Lauder Eye Serum. Aveda Tourmaline Eye Cream. Lumene Undereye Cream. Seriously, you get the picture. I've tried about every drugstore cream and a lot of dept. store brands. If you have a question about one, call me -- I've probably tried it at some point. The two I recommended are the only two that ever didn't make my try to claw my eyes out or induce horrible red puffiness (or, for those of you new to cosmetics: "do the diametric opposite of what undereye cream is supposed to do").
Best expensive foundation: Chanel. People go on and on about the Laura Mercier but I am not a fan...I think it's too sticky and never really sets well. If you have 50 bucks to blow on foundation, go with the Chanel Teinte Illumineé.
Best midrange foundation: MakeUp For Ever Mat Velvet. Looks great. Stays put. Good range of colors...I think if you are male and have been asked to appear on TV, you should consider getting some of this stuff. Really blends well.
Best drugstore foundation: The late, lamented Revlon Skinlights. It was discontinued. Revlon PhotoFinish is pretty good, as is Sally Hansen Inspired by Carmindy liquid foundation. I'm really pale, and they both have pale enough shades that don't turn out yellow on my skin. Most other drugstore foundations' palest shades are too dark for me.
Best loose translucent powder: Laura Mercier.
Concealer: Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer. Best I've ever used, by a mile. Expensive, but lasts forever. 2nd-best: Benefit's Erase Paste in shade No.1. Under no circumstances should you ever use CoverGirl or Almay concealers. They do not, in a word, conceal. Plus, they have that dopey doe's-foot applicator. Don't use it. Put on the concealer and then repeatedly tap it into your skin, don't smear. It won't stay put very well, but if you're in a bind (i.e., on your way to the prom, need something right now for under five bucks, and you happen to be at Wal-Mart), it will do for an hour or so.
Best pressed powder: Chantecaille, in Very Light. Hard to find, but is great.
Best bronzer: Trish McEvoy. Go with Bronze #1. If you don't like this, try the St. Tropez Mousse Bronzer in the lightest shade. Bonus: has SPF 15 in it.
Best powder blush: Trish McEvoy in Barely There.
Best creme blush: Dream Mousse by Maybelline in Soft Plum. Stays put all day!
Best lip stain: BeneTint original (don't be suckered into the PosieTint! It is way too pale -- I gave it to a friend for her daughters to play with. )
Best lip balm: well, this is embarrassing but I make it myself. It's a shea-butter lip balm. If you want some, ask me. I don't like commercial lip balms at all.
Best lipstick: True Red - Chanel's Star Red, with MAC Russian Red getting an honorable mention. Pink - MAC Petals and Peacocks (English rose pink), MAC Girl About Town (magenta-ish) or American Beauty Very Pink (true pink, blue undertone). Coral-pink: La Prairie Rose Bronze (beware! $$$$) or Maybelline Sweet Nectar (like, about 300% cheaper, looks about the same). Mauve: Aveda Nourish-Mint Lipstick in Sugar Apple.
Best eyeliner: Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Cobalt or Plum.
Best drugstore eyeliner: LÓreal Telescopic in Waterproof Ultra-Black.
Best mascara: Maybelline Lash Discovery. Here's the thing about mascara -- you really ought to throw it away every 3 months or so, so it makes no sense to buy expensive mascara. If you use primer, any kind really will get the job done. Runner up: Physician's Formula Lash Enhancer.
Totally useless? Neutrogena Lashtint. Totally overrated? Great Lash. That stuff looks horrible on me and is gloppy and goes all over the place. But if you love it, good on ya. Let me know, 'cause I keep buying it and then throwing it away, and I might as well give it to you.
Best expensive mascara that I will use if I win the lottery? Fresh Cosmetics Firebird Mascara in Charcoal Grey. Best free sample mascara ever? Fresh Cosmetics Supernova Mascara in Jet Black. They frequently will give you samples of this at Macy's. Just sayin'.

Well, that's all I have the energy for at the moment. More cosmetic trivia anon, plus a discussion of perfume. In the meantime, happy November. Talk to you soon.

Creative Commons License
A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Creative Commons License
A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at