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!)

Sparklebrows

Have you guys noticed this ridiculous blingy brow trend/epidemic? I first spotted it a couple years ago in a Dior brow mascara that thankfully seems to have been discontinued. These copycat swatches are Anastasia x2 and Perfekt x2, respectively. The Sephora gal who caught me snapping these pics was totally into the glam brow look, and she tried to get me on board, haha. No dice! (To be fair, I realize that my arm hair is sort of weirdly glimmery in this shot, but let’s agree to pretend it’s not. We all know how weird their lighting can be, especially when taking covert cell phone pics to avoid Browfrontations.)

Here’s a closer look at the swatches. I’m OK with slightly shimmery eyelash mascara (but not full-on glitter mascara; that seems both tacky and painful), like the YSL gray stuff I tried before. But not brows. It’s just not OK, people! Noticeably made-up brows remind me of that terrible harsh grandma look where they’re totally plucked out and then drawn (or worse, tattooed) on, ya know? So even if it’s glimmer instead of thick black brow-polygons, I still don’t ever want to call attention to my eyebrows being made up. To me it’s kind of like those horrible and thankfully short-lived blingy clear bra straps that were meant to be displayed. Ew. It looks trashy and sticky and juvenile and fleeting and silly and incorrect.

God, I can’t get over how dumb these look to me. (The two Perfekt, or I guess Per-fekt [sic] swatches look the same and less sparkly, but you have to trust me that they’re a) different and b) totes sparkly.) These sorta reminds me of Sephora’s gag cat-brow spoof of 2010. If I try it just to amuse myself one of these days, I’ll post a picture (probably just on Twitter) but I won’t be shelling out my hard-earned VIB points to pick up an actual blingy brow gel product. I’ll fake it with hair spray and sparkly eye shadow, like a gentlewoman.

What sticks in my craw is that neither of these product lines has a non-shimmery alternative in the tinted brow mascara category. Nope, they assume that IF you are interested in pigmented brow groomitude via spooly brush, then you MUST also be interested in glamming up those brows. Which is a shame, because I literally cannot find any good solid neutral-looking brow mascara anymore. I used to have an amazing one by Chanel called “Le Forme Soucils” in Taupe and it was so subtle and lovely, I was so sad when I ran out right after they had discontinued it. Every brow mascara I’ve tried since then has either had the Shimmer of Death, or has been a weirdly reddish shade that doesn’t match my coloring. That Taupe was so perfect because it really was taupe, like  a sort of ashy dark blonde that was just a hint of color to help define my brows. Le sigh, Chanel. Le sigh.

The lighter half of Anastasia’s ash blonde brow powder duo (above right) mixed with hairspray is the closest thing I can pull off, which is a pain in the ass/brow, so I never bother even though I look way more polished when I do. So Anastasia, if you can make perfectly matte and taupe shades of brow powder that are appropriately conservative and subtle, why the hell can’t you make that same concept in another less powdery product? Please? I’ll stop publicly mocking your sparklebrows line if you do, promise. xoxo

Cosmetics case MIA :(

I’ve been using the same Coach black leather makeup bag since like 2003, and I LOVED that thing. I got it for a decent price at the factory outlet, and it’s held up well and was the perfect size and dimensions to cram into even my smaller purses. I didn’t love how skinny items like pencils could slip out of the gap above the zipper closure, but it clearly wasn’t *that* destructive an issues since I’ve stuck by that same bag for so long. And now I have to bid it adieu!

I lost both it and an earring somewhere on Amazon’s campus Monday, and security found my earring but has no word on the makeup bag. It contained all my MOST IMPORTANT staples — mascara, concealer, *discontinued* lip balm, *also discontinued* mineral powder concealer, lip stain x2, my favorite comb, an adorable mini of Chanel No. 5 whose bottle I wanted to keep forever… sigh. But let’s focus on the positive — this means I have an excuse to upgrade and overhaul, right? Right!

For a couple years now I’ve been wanting a Stephanie Johnson cosmetics case. I spotted her stuff at a now-closed Bainbridge Island shi-shi spa/boutique, and I was in love because of the zipper pulls. No, seriously, take a close look: they’re two-tone and nicely woven, and the bag is elegantly piped, and — the details are just so clearly high quality. For several years now I’d been thinking I would splurge and get myself one of these, but I could never quite justify the purchase since I always receive so many crappy but free cases from various cosmetics promos.

No longer! Now I think I’m ready to take the plunge. (I will, however, wait until after Christmas just in case, since it’s totally on my list.) The Gidget case seems like a usefulness boost, too — the extra pockets might mean it’s harder to grab something in a hurry, but I think overall I’ll appreciate the ability to organize and perhaps hold a larger amount more efficiently. (God, is that Amazon talking? MUST… OPTIMIZE… LIFE…) Anyway. Gidget’s the bomb, it would seem. Here’s an inside view of the case so you can see what I mean.

However! I totally thought SJ had the “upscale makeup bag” market locked down, when Amazon’s recommendations helpfully directed me to the Apple & Bee line. Adorable and seemingly efficient, and in even better materials than the Stephanie Johnson line. Decisions, decisions. I’ll probably eventually wind up owning at least one of each, but for now I will wait and see what Santa thinks. Perhaps he can poll Mrs. Claus as to which item better holds her array of on-the-go cosmetics selections.

Either way, I’m using this as an opportunity to overhaul some stuff. I think I’m switching back to mineral powder concealers for a while, after using a combo of the above-mentioned PF plus Smashbox HD for a couple years now. They just break me out more, and I’m less and less patient with that, plus I’m wanting to shift back to more natural ingredients. And I’m trying Diorshow Waterproof for my next mascara — I had a *horrid* experience with Blackout, but this seems better and I’ll review either way soon. And I guess I finally have an excuse to dig up the beet powder and rose petal powder I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs years ago, and look into making my own naturally pigmented lip stains… I will DEFINITELY update about that, regardless of whether it’s a success or failure (& I’m kinda anticipating the latter). Either way, I’m hoping I can continue to look at this as a silver lining for a new beginning, even though I’m still bummed to have lost all my fave staples. Watch my old case turn up after I shell out $100 for a new arsenal!