Beauty Routine: My day-to-day beauty routine is fairly low-key. I generally wear my curly hair natural, often down, though I'll experiment with simple up-dos from time to time. As of late, I've been partial to red lipstick, maybe dark blue mascara or shimmery eyeshadow, and... nada más. Though I'll put on sunscreen, I've been eschewing foundation and powder to let my skin breathe.
D.C. Trends: Beauty trends vary widely. The average Georgetown prep, for instance, dresses very differently than the average Columbia Heights hipster. The stereotype non-Washingtonians tend to have about D.C. beauty is that it's polished (i.e., expensive) but not very adventurous. If that were true in the past, it's changing because the whole metro area is changing. That being said, most of the people I work and socialize with wear minimal makeup, keep their hair natural, and wear a mix of designer, brand name, vintage, and artisan clothing and jewelry. And to address the inevitable question about D.C. punk/hardcore: While there's a pretty healthy punk scene here, I think many local punks take a subtler approach to their look, at least during the week. This is, after all, the land of power jobs.
Process: I hit up the MAC counter in the Macy's at Pentagon Fashion Center in Arlington, Virginia, right outside Washington, D.C.. This was my first time ever getting my makeup done at a mall. Since it was nearly closing time, I wasn't expecting the full treatment, but the makeup artist accomplished a lot in 15 minutes. She did my lips with lip primer, lip pencil, and lipstick. She used Studio Moisture Cream and Fix Fluid for my skin. Then, for my eyes, eyebrow pencil, mascara, eyeliner, and a couple different eyeshadows did the trick.
Outcome: I've always been a little granola goth, with more of an emphasis on the granola than the goth. I love how dramatic this look is and think it's perfect for a night out. It'd be right at home at the 9:30 Club or U Street Music Hall. All I'd have to do is throw on a velvet dress and riot grrrl boots and be out the door.
Photos by Helen Stoddard.
SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES
Beauty Routine: Moisturizer, BB cream applied with kabuki liquid foundation brush bronzer for blush/contour. Black eyeliner pencil all around the eye. Mascara. Urban Decay Naked Basic shadow — usually three colors blended.
Although I love lipstick, I rarely wear it daily because of the extreme amount of coffee I drink. I always end up with it on my teeth and cup, and feel like I eat it.
Trends & Process: I went to an LA suburb where a lot of people who work in the downtown area live called Cerritos. It's an upper middle class area. I went to a MAC actual store, as that is what I think of when I think "trends." There were all ages of ladies there, and I didn't feel like the only one who hadn't come after school or between college classes. There were other professional, late twenties gals there, a few moms, and middle age professionals. For a Monday at 4p.m., it was busy.
I was told "natural skin" is in, but flawless natural. This meant that I had to be spackled with a special primer that filled in my large pores, MAC's Prep and Prime primer. It did fill in my pores and smoothed everything out. I liked it. They then proceeded to apply liquid foundation. What was what I thought diminished pores now looked like color spots on my cheeks where I have the largest pores. I did not like it at first, but as time passed, the foundation settled in a lot more, and as long as you looked at me from a bit out, but not too closely at my skin, it looked okay. I still did not like how heavy it felt. Which leads me to MAC's Finish concealer, which was literal clay.
She scooped it out of the container with the back end of the brush and then pressed it into my skin with fingers. She said to apply with fingers so the heat of your hand melted it a bit to make it pliable. She used this under both eyes, my whole nose and the upper third of my cheeks. This was by far the worst effect. It made my fine lines (God, it hurts me to say I have fine lines. I'm 28 for heaven's sake!) stand out even more, and the dark circles went from a light shadow to cracked cement. All this was done in about 20 minutes to achieve "natural" flawless skin. This was covered with a mineral pressed powder. She then blushed my cheeks with a color called Warm Soul, which I would have never chosen for myself, but LOVED. It was the perfect mix of bush and bronze, with gold highlights. I almost bought it, but decided to wait until I go though my existing bronzer. I then got hit with the Prep and Prime Fix, which is a little spritz they put on top to help us oily girls stay hydrated. I was advised to add powder as I got oily though the day, and then do a spritz of the Prep and Prime Fix. I did buy this.
Overall, I don't think the base was an improvement, but all the girls stopped by to compliment the selection of product, and say how great my skin looked (now). Not sure if this was a sales tactic or if they were serious. All their skins looked flawless, but I wouldn't call it natural. More like a plastic matte film had painted their face. Think Barbie, but more goth. Everyone who has gone to a MAC counter knows what I mean. And I don't think my skin looked like theirs.
I was then told that bold color eyes and a dark lip where very in. I asked for clarification on what a dark lip was, as the girl doing my make up had on chocolate maroon lipstick. She indicated that what she was wearing was very in, as was a bright red lip, again combined with a blue or purple shadow. She did comment that blue and purple are the fall and winter palettes of choice. As I already own a blue, I asked to go with the purple. She did a four color blend on the eyes to create an office day look. She then said that eyeliner was out, and instead I should use the darkest color of the shadow mix to highlight my lower lid. Overall, I really liked the look, but strongly disagreed that it was an office-ready every day look. She added a mascara, not a big deal as I have crazy long lashes that need no care. She commented big fake lashes are in, but that I didn't really need them. The brow pencil was applied really heavy, and I wasn't into it.
Finally the lips. In fairness, I have tiny lips. I have a running joke that I have no upper lip. Because of this, most makeup counters draw fake lips on me, and I always think it looks bad because I know where my real lips are. This was no exception, and large lips were drawn on my top and bottom to create a much more pouty look. I was told that the trend is a neutral pencil followed by a dark purple lipstick. I was ready to say, "Okay, do it," but she could see my hesitation. She switched to something more "natural." She said that if it was totally nude to go with a matte color, but anything else should be glossy. She used Pro Longwear Lip color in Perennial Rose. I really liked the color of both the pencil and the lipstick, but the lipstick had a weird applicator brush that was really thin. It also is more of a stain that dries you out, with gloss on the end to add back the moisture, which I am also not a fan of.
Outcome: My husband loves it when I get "really done up" with really heavy make up and colors. He is like the only guy I know who feels this way. So he loved it. I texted a pic to my best friend who is very into make up, and she loved it, but texted me back asking where I was going and why didn't I invite her. My other good friend said I looked like a hooker.
I felt like the eyes were awesome, but I really needed to tone it down with a more "natural" lip color. The base just was awful, but the pictures looked decent. I can tell you there is no way I would spend 20 minutes on my base. I spend 15 minutes on my whole routine for an everyday look. I am going back for the blush though!
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Beauty Routine: My normal beauty routine is practically non-existent. I have very dry skin that I slather with coconut oil once a day. Occasionally (for special events!) I'll put some mascara on or some tinted lip balm. It's not that I don't like makeup, it's more that I'm hopelessly inept at it.
Santa Fe Trends: Santa Fe is strange when it comes to makeup. There is a mix of outdoorsy folks who go around completely bare-faced and women who wear a lot of bold styles, with heavy foundation and thick lip liner. Lately I've seen a lot of bright blues and purples, as well as metallics.
Process: I've never gotten a mall makeover before, so I had no idea what the process was. My strategy was to wander up to the counter and look as lost as possible. That strategy was a success! The man who did my makeover took pity on both me and my lack of experience, and I gained some techniques that I might even incorporate into my daily routine (maybe).
Outcome: The makeover reflected some of the styles I've seen around town—very bronzy and coppery, with a stronger eye than I would normally think about wearing. My fiancé smirked at me hard at first, but as he got used to it he said that he liked it more. I felt like I stuck out a little walking through the mall, and then later Target, but I don't think I was particularly ostentatious. I was actually expecting a look that was a little bolder, given the looks sported by some of the other makeup artists around.
Previously: London to Kazakhstan.
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