I used to buy self-help books, but those take so much time. Not only do you have to read them, but you have to do all this work, often devoting years to self-improvement. Plus, their metrics for success are so vague. How do I know I’ve “won” a healthy romantic relationship? It seems nebulous.
But you know what isn’t? A perfectly angled cat eye.
Instead of doing arduous work (like confronting my problems with self-awareness or striving for emotional growth), I’ve sublimated my perfectionism into achieving an accurate physical representation of the version of myself that exists in my fantasies. The “me” in my perfect, problem-free life. Or: The “me” in my perfect life with problems that I swiftly and successfully handle, all while dressed in a Rihanna-level outfit. I reconnect with my true self and cradle my inner child, unleashing myself enough to laugh loud, free, and carelessly while achieving all my goals, meeting all my deadlines, and finally figuring out which bills I have to pay — on time. Also, I never have dark under-eye circles.
Basically, I obsess over the products that promise to remove everything that’s wrong with my life. Maybe I’m projecting a little here, but if you say this bronzer chisels out my jawline, and my jawline is the thing that’s preventing me from, like, meeting the man of my dreams or quitting coffee, then that is a promise I want to believe in.
Of course, it’s not really about my smudged cat eye, or my dark circles, or my alternatingly limp and wild hair. It’s not even about my long, bitter fight against rosacea or this exciting recent bout with psoriasis. Or the weird blackheads that went away but then came back and now the thing that got rid of them last time isn’t working anymore. It’s not about how my eyebrows are suddenly — after that horrific middle-school experience — in style. (And, even still: Are they perfect? Or are they just perfectly timed for this new trend? Is it me or is it that everyone decided they’re OK suddenly?) AND ANOTHER THING —
OK, sorry, I’ll stop. But it’s about how makeup and skincare will surely transform me into that brave yet relaxed, cool and chill, professional yet casual girl I dream of becoming when I’m scrolling through my millionth Into the Gloss “Top Shelf” column. I could be the girl with the Diptyque candle ... or at least the girl who doesn’t think Diptyque candles are dumb.
Because, I guess, if I tried hard enough, I could tap into that je ne sais quoi of Emily Ratajkowski laughing it off that Aquaphor is her favorite beauty product because she literally just wakes up like that. Or of a Kylie Jenner #nomakeupselfie that isn’t actually all that different from any of her other selfies. There’s hope that I’ll strike gold: One day I’ll wake up and spend five minutes (max!) in front of the mirror putting on Lorde’s bold lip while my hair falls into that perfect Sky Ferreira tamed mess that implies just the right amount of effort.
I project a different promise onto every product. I thought each of the items below might be my missing link. I wanted products to ultimately say: Why, yes, I am already just like this.
About a year ago, I fell into a deep Glossier hole. I fell in love with Phase 1 and Boy Brow. Or, I started using Phase 1 and tried to stop feeling weird about how bare and oily my face felt and how I stopped using the products targeting the redness on my cheeks. Around 3 p.m. every day, when my face would catch a mirror, I’d will myself into thinking about those “natural”-looking girls with that bone structure. I’d try to ignore the fact that my original style had been washed away by my attempts to be the Glossier girl, erased by the hope that, you know, OMG, I never needed makeup in the first place! I felt tricked. Here was the thing that always happens to me, and maybe others, with makeup and skincare: the feeling that if everything was perfect, I wouldn’t need it. And my confused logic thinking, If this product is supposed to make me perfect, why do I have to keep on buying it?
Eventually, I stopped using any Glossier products except Boy Brow. I haven’t found another eyebrow product to match this. None of them are dark enough or thicken my eyebrows quite enough and make them stand straight up. Which is a bummer because I *hate* having to order online, and it comes in an unnecessarily large package that’s hard to get from the post office, and, for some reason, everyone I meet confuses my knowledge that Glossier exists with a total devotion to Glossier.
Anyway, if you come between me and Boy Brow, I will fucking murder you.
Despite the hundreds of lip balms I already own, I somehow convinced myself that I needed Baby Lips too. No one even recommended it, I’ve just been seeing it in the aisles of Duane Reade for too long. There was no evidence or suggestion that all my problems with lip balms and slightly tinted lip products would be solved by this one, but I really, really wanted them to be. So I decided I wouldn’t be whole until I’d fallen in love with Cherry Me and it had fallen in love with me. If only we could be together, life would be perfect!
It started out OK. This is both tinted and moisturizing. But every time I put it on, I have to fight the instinct to immediately wipe it off — to break off the commitment. Because whenever I rub my lips together, the tint spreads just outside of them, so I look less like I just ate a cherry popsicle and more like the kid in elementary school with the flu. It sits on top of my lips, not really melting in, not really sharing with me, in a way that makes me feel like we’re trying too hard to make this work.
So I ended up breaking up with Baby Lips in Cherry Me. Maybe I could’ve tried harder. I know that relationships are a marathon, not a sprint. With that in mind, I'm excited to see how Baby Lips in Peppermint will manage to satisfy me in ways Cherry Me only dreamed of!
To be completely, embarrassingly, my-life-is-over-after-I-say-this honest: I bought this because of Kylie Jenner. A Sephora employee found my shade using their Color IQ system, which I’m suspicious of because Sephora's lighting is so unreliable, but Sand seemed to be absolutely perfect. I guess it’s still good, but I’ve only worn it a few times. It’s super heavy. It was too heavy for July, the month I decided my life would be easier if I only had full-coverage foundation (my delusion knows no bounds nor weather). Like, when it expires, I’ll probably keep it around for any spackling my apartment might need. Basically, I just don’t think this style is for me. The coverage is great, but it still has the problem I always have with foundation: It’s something sitting heavily on my face. This is why I prefer BB creams or tints. But everything happens for a reason, you know? After this, I moved on to the skin tint I’ll devote the rest of my life to ...
I was wary of this skin tint because I’m wary of all skin tints. I’ve been burned before, you know? Or maybe it’s me. Is my skin is too oily, is that why it’ll never work? Maybe if I reroute my skincare routine and work on myself I’ll attain the appropriate palette, become someone who can build something real with something else in this wild and crazy world.
I tried this because nothing else was working and it was a last resort. Plus I had heard it was better than other skin tints and my friends told me to give it a chance.
Too often I’ll be staring at three shades, unsure how they’re different and which ones are wrong. But the first thing that won me over with Milk Makeup was how easily I found my color. Unfortunately, this product only comes in eight shades and most of them are light, so I can’t imagine this would be the case for many people. And that’s pretty shitty and irresponsible for a seemingly forward-thinking company, right?
The application is weird. It’s a rollerball that glides across your face with a button on the bottom of the tube to push up more product. The rollerball is antibacterial, which makes me feel safe and protected. Cared for. It’s also one of the only foundation-type products to not have preservatives, which the company says is a big deal, and might be why this is so effective. It’s fresh and absorbs so well that I haven’t had the problem I used to have, where I’d over-apply and then try to figure out how to remove some without starting completely over.
This also makes it super easy to reapply — it builds, so I can just add more throughout the day without being concerned with how it’s layering or whether it’s patchy. I can also add it to specific parts of my face only. It makes me feel like it’s cooing in my ear, “I got you, girl. I can’t even tell where I end and you begin.” Which is also true: The coverage is seamless and effective, and it even weathered that weird allergic reaction I had a few weeks ago.
I am, however, concerned with the longevity of this product. First, I go through a tube pretty fast. Second, while it really worked well with my summer-to-fall skin tone, I’m not sure if it’ll carry me through the dark winter ahead when I become more pale and dry. But does anyone really know how it’ll work out? Isn’t it all we can do to try our best and trust that our other half is trying their best, too?
My friend swears by this. But me? I, uh, use it. Sometimes between layers of concealer and tint, sometimes only once after everything’s been applied. Sometimes I forget it completely, and sometimes I don’t use it because I accidentally used my one brush for bronzer and that’s the only way to apply this loose powder. I never have a problem when I forget to wear this, and I never have a problem when I remember to. It does what it says it will: makes a shiny face matte. I’m not exactly sure that it’s necessary for my day-to-day life, although I do notice that it helps my makeup last throughout the day, even if I don’t appreciate it enough or show it enough love. Hopefully, one day, it will forgive me. Or at least maybe the relationship will be a bit more mutual.
This actually solved a lot of my problems. Potentially all of them, but then I made new ones and this came up short so I started using it less. But, boy oh boy, this is an amazing elixir.
This is the most perfect lip product I’ve ever used, and using it makes me feel both reassured and confident, filling me with hope that my other needs and desires could one day be similarly met. It helped repair my ability to trust something outside myself. I relied on this lip tint to provide a deep, even, pigmented color that wouldn’t transfer or fade. I approached this product, asking it to fill my unrealistic needs — needs more suited for a lip stain than a tint. I wanted a color that wouldn’t look especially natural, but also wouldn’t stand out too much. I asked this lip tint to kindly absorb into my lips, and as I brushed the simple yet versatile wand across my mouth, I opened myself up to the possibility that this lip tint might come up short. It’s happened before (specifically with TonyMoly’s Get It Tint, which doesn’t last nearly as long. Like, at all. Unless it’s the pink one. That one NEVER leaves. Check, please!). But it didn’t.
This lip tint is gentle and attentive to my needs and desires, leaving only the occasional smudge on my skin. Sometimes it will fade into that one line around my lips, but hey — don’t we all have our baggage? Plus, couldn’t I be doing more to help the lip tint out, like moisturizing more often and keeping my lips unchapped? A relationship is a two-way street.
There are three colors, but I only have any use for Cherry, because I’ve got no chill and I think it’s cool to wear a lip color that looks like blood. I was unable to find it at the official TonyMoly store (honestly, what the hell!), so I had to get it at Urban Outfitters. A few weeks later I returned to the same Urban Outfitters to purchase another just in case (hi, abandonment issues!) and found no sign that this Cherry TonyMoly lip tint ever existed.
On the one hand (or lip), maybe it’s healthy to work a little for what I want or need. If this lip tint is really what I want to spend my time on Earth with, it must be worth a little energy and effort to build the life I want with it. On the other hand (or lip), maybe life is nothing but an arduous journey in which we get our hopes up due to a series of subjective perceptions based on who we are and who we think we can be, and lip tint is just one more thing that’s going to let us down.