Last August, I found myself somewhat randomly having dinner in a rustic steakhouse at an off-the-strip hotel in Las Vegas with Erik Soto, global makeup artist for Kat Von D. As somebody at the next table stabbed a knife into a big hunk of meat—Soto was having salad—he advised me that a face should start with a clean palette. Every truly successful beauty look, he told me, begins with well-maintained skin. Since then, I’ve thought of my daily beauty routine as starting at night—the most crucial time to spiff up that facial CANVAS—to plump and moisturize before regenerative sleep.
As a result of this rethinking, I have strived to become a semi-prodigious collector of cleansing products.
To expunge the day’s make-up, I cleanse with Ole Henriksen’s Pure Truth 3-in-1 Melting Gel Cleanser, which sounds somewhat complicated but is in fact miraculous: it is basically a cleanser, make-up remover, and serum at the same damn time, and it literally melts off my copious, clumpy gloops of mascara and eyeliner more thoroughly than any remover I’ve ever used. It also leaves my combination skin feeling super soft. I have converted at least three people to this and it’s not that expensive as fancy products go. I bought my first tub for $34 last October and it will probably last me through July. Also, it smells like honey.
One or three times a week I will also exfoliate, with Nude Detox Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash, which looks like MDMA. You pour a little dollop of the powder into your hand, add a little water, and scrub that shit onto your face. It feels lowkey like a science experiment—a volcano in the palm—which is chill, and it offers a thorough but gentle resurfacing, effective enough to put it out of your mind that its creator is totally married to Bono.
I’m in my middllate [cough, cough] 30s and am fortunate that I possess magical Méxican ain’t-aging-too-fast genes—my mom’s 78 and looks about 60, or younger—but I’m not taking any chances, so all my moisturizers are geared towards keeping everything tight and fresh like a plump l’orange. I use eb5 Anti-Aging Eye Treatment and eb5 Intense Moisture Facial Cream, both formulated in 1960 by an Oregon pharmacist named Robert Heldfond who started his career helping local hospitals develop topical treatments for burn patients. I don’t care that he invented that shit 50 years ago, it’s all the same basic idea—vitamin E, vitamin C, etc—and Portlanders on the whole have great skin, insert token hippie comment about the environment. (But really, it’s the moisture.) For blemishes, I spot treat with a homemade mixture of pure tea tree oil diluted in a dab of pure coconut oil. After a full exfoliate/serum treatment my skin is soft as a baby’s butt—but wait, what’s up with that baby’s butt? Sus. Also: drink fucktons of water!
If I exfoliated the night before with the MDMA cleaner, I wash my face with eb5 Cleansing Formula—very mild, pleasantly scented—and tone with eb5 Anti-Aging Cleanser. But if not, I like a little morning exfo’ with Olay Regenerist Regenerating Cream Cleanser. Honestly, I would probably use only Olay for my whole routine if I weren’t prone to experimenting and easily seduced by pretty packaging—it’s as good as anything else and you cannot beat drugstore prices.
In the shower, aside from whatever nice-smelling, moisturizing soap—right now some rose-scented brick I got at Ricky’s—it’s purely Davines shampoo and conditioner. I have thick, slightly wavy, semi-coarse hair, so I alternate between Melu (anti-breakage; smells like incense) and Love (anti-frizz; smells like grapefruit). I swear by this stuff, it’s probably the most nourishing shampoo and conditioner I’ve ever used.
I don’t do much to my hair style-wise, just spritz it with a little Kevin Murphy Shimmer.Shine Mist (honestly I don’t know if it does anything, but it has little gold dust flecks in it and it smells good) and some Davines “medium hairspray for workable, shiny looks.” I don’t know if the spray does anything either, and it is really fucking expensive. Why did I spend thirty bucks on hairspray?! OH RIGHT: BECAUSE IT, TOO, SMELLS GOOD. God, I suck. Also, right now I’m having a deep hair crisis because my regular hairstylist/life guru/fashion icon, Shaun Surething at NYC’s premiere feminist salon Seagull, was on vacation in Turkey for a long time, so I froke out and cut it myself. Bad idea! I’m getting it fixed next week, when he’s back from Puerto Rico (he likes to travel).
DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF.
Before I leave the house, I gotta do a little spray of Hermés Eau de Merveilles, which is my near-perfect parfum in that it smells like sexy wet housepaint. Sometimes I sub in its polar opposite, the near sickly sweet Bond No. 9 Madison Square Park (LOL) (which, note, I got for free in sample form, I would never spend $200 on this flavor or, very likely, any non-custom scent, really). Because perfume ad copy is so over-the-top ridiculous to the point of hilarity, I would like to share with you the following:
Eau des Merveilles tells the tale of an imaginary journey at Hermès, the feet on the ground, the head among the stars. A modern fairy tale, bursting with charm and mystery. The perfume of enchantment, capturing the spirit of wood, the memory of the oceans, and the sparkle of a constellation…
Via Bond No 9:
Madison Square Park was the height of fashion in the Gilded Age. Today it’s back—in hip-&-cool revival mode. So now is the time for a neighborhood eau de parfum…
OK. I also fux wit Lancome Hypnose which is a hot, hot combo of passion flower, jasmine, and vetiver, and will transport you to the exotic, uncharted lands of a Macy’s counter... at night.
Is it telling that I needed to talk about my smell before the method in which I fix my face? Some mean older girl made fun of my makeup when I was seventh grade—“Who taught you to do your make-up, your MOM?” her acrid screech echoes in my mind—and I am still suffering from related night-sweats even though it happened in, like, the nineties. I never have any idea if I am doing my make-up right, forever plagued by a dreadful hunch that I’m not. But I do it anyway, because my impulse to vanity is more acute than my residual anxiety about that mean eighth grader. Besides, that girl’s dye job was SUN-IN. Bye, bitch!
I do not really differentiate between day and night make-up, which maybe means I look like a dramatic, overdone strumpet when I come into the office (you guys would tell me, right?). Or maybe just means that I don’t go too buck in general. Probably somewhere in between. On my meticulously cleansed and maintained face (!) I start with Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream, which is thick and correcting enough that I don’t feel I need anything else in the way of foundation, and then I curl and mascara my lashes—always some variation of Covergirl, the greatest mascara. Right now I’m using Lashblast because it sounds like an EYELASH APOCALYPSE. DETONATE THE VOLUMINIZER!
Nars make-up is so good, especially the blush; here I’ve got on a little swiffer of Dolce Vita. Know who else makes great make-up? Marc Jacobs. It pains me to say that because all of his other artistic endeavors, such as fashion, can be intensely compromised and, in a different way, generic (my friend once acerbically described his lines as “Old Navy for rich girls”). But damned if the make-up is not great. I love the Twinkle Pop Eyestick in On the Verge, an icy lavender color, and after searching high and low for the exact match of the black cherry lipstick I wore in the ‘90s (it was Wet n Wild, and apparently I didn’t search that hard cause I just found it), Marc Jacobs replicated it with the Kiss Pop Lip Color Stick in (ugh) Smack. PERFECT. I will probably have to switch this up for Spring but for now I am feeling a slightly moody visage.
Throw on some Milani Brow Fix Brow Kit and a swipe of black liquid eyeliner (Kat Von D [got it for free], Sephora house brand [purchased], even Almay [swiped], whatever’s around) and I am ready to face this trash world.
These are two self-portraits of my face, on two different days. At left, April 2015; at right, October 2014. I do not vary my steez at all, which is personally unfortunate considering my abiding love for the art of drag queens. Sigh.
As mentioned, this is my look for night, too. I must admit that I have been reconsidering my lack of differentiation between day and night make-up since watching House of DVF, the deeply entertaining reality competition show in which several young women vied for a spot as Diane von Furstenberg’s “Global Brand Ambassador,” whatever the hell that means. There was a point in which the most annoying contestant wore garishly bright red lipstick to work with clients in the day, and both DVF and profoundly over-it Style Editor Jessica Joffe were like, “Ugh, dude, get that lipstick off your face, it’s daytime, jesus fucking christ, it’s not la Cage” (paraphrased). Annoying contestant then started doing a clean look for day and she looked fresh and it seemed totally reasonable, even though she did not get the position of Global Brand Ambassador because she sucked. (This might have been the thirstiest moment in reality television I have ever seen, and I watched the entirety of Kourtney and Khloé Take the Hamptons.) (Also: what?!)
But whatever, I’ll start wearing a no-makeup makeup look and zero lipstick for day when I become Jessica Joffe, nahmean. I also like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ Matte Lip Tar in a shade called NSFW, which is pretty funny cause I wear that shit to work all the time.
If I go out (as I often do!), I just touch it all up—rub off the inevitable mascara bleed, throw on some more CC cream, reapply the lip goop—and dip. (Sometimes I’ll rub a little Panda’s Dream So Cool Eye Stick under my eyes to keep it fresh, but let’s be real, I really bought it cause it was a panda.) Keep it simple.