My Skype makeup station

Ever since I went full-time with my online dating consultation business, I’ve been working from home and conducting way more meetings and client appointments via video chat. This is great because it saves me gas and transportation and scheduling time with local people, it allows me to help clients in other parts of the world, and it makes it simpler for me to meet with people in a more intimate way without having to drive anywhere or even put on pants. Seriously. I can conduct meetings pantsless. I don’t, mind you, but the fact that I COULD delights me.

But in my increased world of video chatting, I found that I’ve been underestimating my need to prepare. There’s this sort of mental switch that says if you’re working in the comfort of your own home, you needn’t bother getting all primped and ready for a traditional office-like work day, and you don’t build in the “commute time” to get to meetings. But I keep forgetting and failing to prep, even though of COURSE I want to look polished and professional in my video meetings. And if I wanted to scramble to primp for a meeting that’s coming up in a few minutes, it used to take me longer than I expected because my office is on the main floor and my master bathroom where I keep all my crap is way upstairs. My hasty IMs of “be there in two minutes!” sometimes turned into more like seven, and well, that’s unprofessional and unnecessary. PLUS, I often work in my office, lose track of time, and have to rush out the door for a meeting or event, and wouldn’t want to take the time to run upstairs for proper primping supplies, ya know?

Stupid wonderful vanitySo I ordered myself this terrible vanity product from Urban Outfitters, and it does the trick. But it is terrible, and low quality, and overpriced, and was damaged both times they shipped it to me, and was a completely different color both times, and doesn’t come with hardware or clear instructions, and they seem to only package delicate things in loose strips of paper there, and this generally isn’t worth the money or trouble. So don’t buy it; go buy or make or commission something similar but better. Anyway. Did I deter you? Good. But a vanity LIKE this one would be great. lipstick

This stupid vanity thing is awesome despite my complaints, because it solves a need in a way that mostly looks nice in my office. I can put a few essentials in it that are easy to get to for rapidly approaching video chats or rushy departures. And I no longer have to touch up my lipstick using what I call Mirror.app and normal geeks call the “front-facing cell phone camera” (and duckfacing teens just call “the camera,” because why would they think of using it to take anything but selfies? Also ugh, I like just learned that word, I’m old) that make me fucking insane?) Anyway. Mirrors are helpful. AND clients can theoretically take a peek if I’m going to try to capture a couple pics of them for their dating profiles. perfume

Let’s take a peek at what I actually have in this shelving unit of my accursed yet indispensable vanity, shall we? (Of COURSE I stocked it immediately, duh.) It wasn’t hard for me to fill it up with product I won’t miss upstairs, because I have too much crap already and I get a lot of free samples. The top shelf is a 3/4 full bottle of Chanel #5, a mostly used-up bottle of Lush’s vanilla-ish perfume, a copule perfume sample tubes, and a cute Marc Jacobs solid perfume ring a pal gave me. Second shelf is a trial-size tub of Oyin’s Burnt Sugar balm, some Mama Coco’s lip balm (so sad this is discontinued), some Burt’s Bees Honey lip balm, a freebie of Clinique’s Different Lipstick in Shy, a freebie Stila lip glaze, a freebie Clinique High Impact Mascara (unopened so it won’t spoil while it sits there waiting for me to need it), my MAC Fluidline gel liner that I never use as liner but discovered makes a decent in-a-rush cream shadow, and a cute little contour clip from H&M (cuter and cheaper than most drugstore ones). Third shelf is a Laura Mercier foundation sample in too dark a shade, some Dr. Hauschka loose powder, appropriate puffs/sponges, and one of my many pairs of glasses. I also sometimes stash a hairbrush in there. See? All set for our next Skype-up! Hopefully I won’t be caught with my pants down again, so to speak.

Despite any kerfluffles, video chatting DOES have some major beauty advantages—in addition to pantslessness, I can finally use up all the off-color foundation samples I get from Sephora, because it’s sort of like The Theater where you can wear whatever as long as it covers your acne because video quality isn’t that great yet, and I can have fun playing pranks by changing my shirt and hairstyle and accessories really fast if our video connection drops out and we have to reconnect. That’s the best part. (I’ve never done this yet but I’m excited to beta-test this feature. Stay tuned!)

Mountain Rose Herbs giveaway

Mountain Rose Herbs, my favorite hippie skincare and herb supplier is doing a very cool giveaway for the best herbal recipes of 2011. Check ’em out — not only do they have great ideas there and a killer prize, but these guys sell extremely high-quality, well-priced DIY skincare items. I use them to purchase all my butters and almost all of my oils, and they have some terrific tea blends too. Plus hardish to find items like Fuller’s Earth clay. Kicking myself for forgetting about an argan oil refill on my last order — ah well, at least I have an excuse to load up on some more fun stuff soon!

How can we look “polished” on the go?

A friend’s recent Facebook comment cracked me up — she said on the first day of her attempt to dress a bit sleeker looking, she forgot to wear deodorant; this was proof to her that it was impossible for her to be “polished” no matter what she tried. I used to be much the same — i.e. a frizzy mass of imperfect skin, hair, makeup, and fashion. But I’ve found a lot of little “polished” tricks over the years.

The strongest example is with deodorant! During my Frazzled Summer Heat Wedding Gear-up Insanity I forgot deodorant approximately once per week, and keeping a stick in my car always made it melt, so I got a packet of DermaDoctor MedETate wipes. Even after that hectic season, I now always carry one with me and keep a couple in my desk at work.

And, now that I walk to work most days, and my hair sometimes loses its oomph or straight look while I work, I now have a crappy half-inch straightener (a relic from when I had bangs) in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m also never found without my purse hook, which keeps my bag from drooping on the floor getting dirty or just looking sloppy.

In addition, I now carry a small cosmetics bag with every essential imaginable, so I can touch up anything that needs touching up on the go. (I don’t always use it, but the fact is that I COULD if I wanted to.) But I have this grandiose idea of the perfect interchangeable on-the-go kit, with little spots for mascara, tweezers, brow wax, you name it!

I’m a sucker for all kinds of products designed for gals on the go, like Trish McEvoy’s refillable pages, Too Faced’s Glamour 2 Go, and the above-pictured Dior Deluxe Travel Palette. I carry a little makeup-and-more bag that I keep stocked with pre-moistened glasses cleaning wipes, Similasan individually-packaged eye dropsHello Kitty Band-Aids, miniature Anastasia tweezers, a tiny Burt’s Bees comb, a combo nail file and emory board, my awesome O Hui compact, at least a couple retractable makeup brushes (including my über-fave Baby Buki),  a tiny sample mascara tube, hair ties, a sample perfume tube, tampons… all in my petite Coach makeup case which fits in my purse. Oh, and in the winter I’ll hit up a Whole Foods for a free sample of Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, and carry that teensy tube around all season.

I’m curious to know if any other ladies out there have tricks to look more polished/together themselves — I doubt this post will get enough hits to really say, but I’d love to hear from you if you have any input! What’s your tip for staying smooth-looking even when life on the go leaves you frazzled?

Holy lashes, Batman!

Remember my Great Mascara Review from last year? Yeah, now that I found my Holy Grail Mascara, I thought I was all done with that noise. Well sadly, my HG is starting to bug my eyes lately — might be the lack of humidity now that heaters are going on everywhere — and I think I need to switch to a gentler formula for my overtaxed peepers.  After all, I DO spend all day staring at tiny text in an MMO in a de-humidified office.

Through absolutely no intention or efforts, I have wound up with the following generous sample tubes from Nordies and Sephora over the past few months (left to right), which I figured I might as well review briefly. None of these formulations are waterproof, so I wasn’t surprised that none of these were a huge hit, but what the heck!

One thing is for certain — the tiny, thin brushes from my Clinique Lash Power Mascara and my Smashbox Lash Detailer Mascara are way better for my peepers, so I’ve washed and saved those. Any new HG mascara will likely only be HG when applied with one of these phenomenal brushes!


Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara — Meh. Hard to apply and rubs/flakes off really easily. It was super dry and sticky-like to get on, like the (sealed in a bag) tube was old and dried out. Niiiice.

Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For — Spiky ouchy brush, meh formulation, will still keep brush for use w/ other mascaras but not to be used at base of lashes. Owie!

Lancôme Defincils — Sometimes I like this, but I don’t care for this stuff most days. It goes on very spindly/separatey, without enough volume — as I’ve mentioned before, this looks weird on my superlong and weirdly-pointing lashes. Makes them look lanky, anorexic and confused — bad in both teens and eyelashes, turns out. If I use the superskinny Clinique brush, it looks better, but still not amazing. It does give great separation with few clumps though.

Sephora plain ole mascara — Immediately leaked all over my undereye when I ate spicy food and teared up a tiny bit (no actual crying). Also weird fibrous flakiness. Ew.

Smashbox Lash DNA x2 — Meh, dry formula, and the stupid brush doesn’t allow for precise application so you smear it everywhere. Does separate nicely and get fringe-y when applied w/ Lash Detailer mascara brush (part of Beauty Breakthroughs kit). But for a mascara that isn’t waterproof, this stuff sure is hard to remove! Harder than most waterproof mascaras!

Shiseido Perfect Mascara — Has the same icky glue-like smell as the long-lasting Too Faced Lash Injection, but this stuff also rubs off if you change your shirt. Pass! And what a stuck-up name, haha.

Clinique High Impact Mascara x2 — Meh. This stuff is fine, not phenomenal, just fine. Goes on fine, comes off fine, doesn’t stay amazingly long but then none of these non-waterproof ones do.

Lancôme Hypnose Drama — This stuff is just fine, not amazing. Annoying abnormal brush and slightly dry/clump-inducing formulation. Meh. 

Estée Lauder Sumptuous — This is supposed to be volumizing? It’s one of those length and separation but no volume mascaras that makes my eyes look FREAKY. Great for Halloween though!

Buxom Lashes — This stuff is also with a mean ouchy spiky brush, which makes it mega-hard to apply to the lash base. Applied with a skinny Clinique brush it looks fine, but otherwise, pass. Also, it seems to uncurl my curled lashes quicker than any other formulation!

And home sick on school pictures day, Smashbox Bionic Mascara. Ick. Just as tacky, thick, clumpy, and eye-goober-forming as I remember it.

So yeah, no big winners here, but not a shock given that these were all non-waterproof freebies. Back to the drawing board — curse my sensitive peepers!

I have solved Gillian Anderson’s biggest beauty dilemma.

She even looks like she has my same coloring here. (I think it's just a trick of the light, though.)Well, OK, her biggest beauty dilemma c. 1994-ish that her publisher allowed to be printed in some Cosmo or JANE interview. (Side note — why do I have such a freakish memory for stuff like this, but can’t remember the time-old question of where I put my keys/glasses/insert cliché noun here?) ANYWAY — so back when I was in high school, I read some trashy rag in which the lovely Scully actress said she was constantly searching for a lip gloss that was the exact same shade as her tongue. Well, Gillian, I may not be a redhead, but I’m a fair-skinned makeup maven with a freakish memory and I think I found your match.

Man, while I'm lukewarm about actual NARS cosmetics, I LOVE the black rubbery packaging. So sexy to the touch.It’s NARS Chihuahua — part of a limited-time free Sephora VIB bonus. I’m so glad I jumped and placed an order when this offer came through, because even though the NARS bonus had only two products (when the TooFaced and BeneFit promos had more), the two items are quite nice and the bronzer contains more product than I’ll ever go through in my lifetime. The gloss is described on the site as “Guava” colored, which I can’t really vouch for as I don’t recall ever seeing a non-processed guava. Plus aren’t there like a zillion subspecies, like with papayas? Whatever — it’s lovely, sheer, and free of shimmer. (My big obsession lately is shimmer-free gloss, for some reason.) And totally the color of my tongue.

Anyway, Gillian, here’s hoping this helps. Because you surely subscribe to my RSS feed. You’re welcome!