Fashion & Beauty

Makeup Counter Intelligence: A Very Personal Opinion

July 12, 2016


OVERHEARD RECENTLY.  Daughter: “Mom, your bathroom looks like a makeup museum.” Mother: “Not the look I was going for.”  But I can relate. My side of the sink in our shared bathroom is a jumble of mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks and glosses, highlighters, concealers, all sorts of brushes, foundations, eyeshadows, you name it. They were all acquired at one time or another in that moment of suspended disbelief when a saleswoman at Sephora or Bluemercury or Ulta assured me that this fill-in-the-blank product would change my life (at least that’s how I’ve always interpreted it). Admittedly, I could clean up the space by tossing some of the items—like that Christian Dior eyeliner in navy that never showed up dark enough or the similar one from MAC or that contouring cream I have no idea how/where to apply. But my conscience pricks, reminding me of how much I spent on all those former must-haves that I used once and never again, so I just keep them, often hiding them at the back of a drawer so I don’t have to face my mistakes.  I know, the decluttering police are shaking their heads as I write.

Still, in the last few months, I have edited my collection down to some key products that give results that are worth sharing.

When it comes to eyeliners, I’m in search of the holy grail, although I’m pretty sure I found it with Le Metier’s liquid eyeliner. The brush is wide at the base and tapered at the tip, making it relatively easy to trace a smooth thin line on the lid. With some liquid eyeliners, it’s hard to control the line, which can come out too dark and thick, accentuating your eyes in a not-so-good Cleopatra way. Kudos for a pencil eyeliner go to Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock & Kohl liner, which combines the glide of a liquid with a soft kohl pencil; it’s dead simple to apply.

I’ve got a shelf’s worth of tinted moisturizers/foundations from Lancôme, Murad, Yves Saint Laurent, La Mer and Neutrogena.  La Mer’s Reparative Skin Tint with SPF 30 is winning my private sweepstakes, mostly because it gives my face just the right amount of color and coverage, without the cake-like consistency of so many others I’ve sampled. But I’m tempted to splurge on Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Complexe, which LittleBird Nancy raved about. First of all, as the man behind the Neiman Marcus counter says, it’s not a foundation, it’s a treatment. Anyway, what won Nancy over: “It seemed almost as light as a moisturizer, and it did that magical light-refracting thing that made my skin look great.”

A good bronzer is hard to find. Last summer when my oh-so-white legs needed some cover I used La Caudalie’s, but I didn’t like the scent, which is surprising because it’s not a self-tanning product. This year, I’ve been testing out By Terry’s Terrybly Densiliss Sun Glow (not a self-tanner), which is moisturizing without being oily and perks up pale faces. I also use it off-label on my legs.

Touche Éclat by Yves Saint Laurent is my standby concealer/highlighter. I put on some eye cream and then swipe it right below the eye and on the sides of my nose and my whole face looks more rested. A newer entry, Tata Harper’s pearly highlighter dotted in the corner of the eye brightens up tired eyes.

There was a time long ago that I skipped eyeliner and only used mascara. I still do, sometimes, and it works because curled and darkened lashes open up the eye, which makes you look more awake. People rave about Maybelline’s Great Lash. Meh. It may be inexpensive but no matter how often I try it, it’s gloppy. My newest go-to is from Lancôme. Its new Grandiose Waterproof product has a wand that bends which makes it much easier to get to those baby lashes in the corners with the side of the brush. No flaking or clumping either.

During the summer, the last thing you want on your lips is a dense, matte lipstick. My hot-weather favorites: Honest Beauty’s Truly Kissable Crayon, with a sheer and lightweight texture (coconut oil is one of the ingredients), slides on deliciously smooth; you hardly need a mirror to apply. Lancôme’s new entry in lipstick is a combination of lip oil (peach kernel oil, sweet almond oil, etc.) and pigment that you literally shake in the cocktail shaker container to mix and then apply with cushion applicator for non-sticky shine and sheer color. Christian Dior’s new Cheek and Lip Glow with a gel-like consistency gives both a rosy tint, and you don’t have to guess which color to buy because the one available shade suits any skin tone (at least according to the Dior website).

Even your favorite brands will wilt and roll off your face in D.C. heat, so, in case you missed it, here’s our guide to the best products to get you through the sweaty days of summer.

 —Janet Kelly
Janet Kelly is the editor of MyLittleBird. Her latest post was about her stash of skincare products


3 thoughts on “Makeup Counter Intelligence: A Very Personal Opinion

  1. Nancy says:

    Sephora and Blue Mercury are my favorite shopping destinations, and have been for years. It is just so much fun playing with make-up. But check out Laura Mercier products, too. They treat skin and eyes “of a certain age” nicely.

  2. Alexa Mergen says:

    I love Le Metier’s eyeliner, too, especially for a dramatic line. I found Marc Jacobs gel crayon doesn’t smudge when I’m teaching yoga, though, and switched to that for everyday. It washes off cleanly at the end of the day with Laura Mercier Purifying Cleansing Oil or regular soap. (I like Virginia First Tea soap. Rinses clean even in the “hard water” in Harpers Ferry.) Loving Tata Harper, especially the Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint. Read recently somewhere that makeup minimalists like me should apply 15% more cream blush than they think they need for effect. That’s been working, too. Thanks for sharing your favs, Janet.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Thanks for sharing your favorites, too. And I’ll definitely keep the 15 percent more cream blush in mind.

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