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!)

Magic marker stylings

I LOVE this Jolinean (ooh, new beauty term!) look, but I’ve long been intimidated by liquid eye liner, because I simply suck at applying it. My hand is shaky, I guess, and many formulations are unforgiving if you have to go over the same area twice, and being extremely fair means that mistakes show up even more on my complexion. So it’s no wonder this particular makeup type has historically freaked me out!

While I did have more success with gel liners, I’ve recently been more willing to give the liquid stuff a try — thanks entirely to a newer genre of liquid liner applicators. Back in middle school I first discovered some cheap but great stylo-type liquid liners from L’OrĂ©al and Cover Girl, but they got discontinued — so I had to just wait it out until makeup companies put these awesome flexy soft-tip markers for the eye back on the market. But my cat-eye prayers have been heard, and answered!

Smashbox, MAC, NARS and Hourglass all have pen-like liquid liners out now. The only one I’ve tried so far is Smashbox, because it seemed like the most water-resistant formulation when I tried them all out (sans MAC) at a Sephora.

Foundation woes

Ages ago, I had tracked down the Smashbox Complexion Perfection Kit at Nordstrom, which contained an HD-happy foundation in “fair”. Silly, silly me — I never really tried the stuff out, like, full-on foundation style, until this past weekend. And shockingly, like EVERY OTHER FOUNDATION OUT THERE*, it looks hideous and orange and dark on me.

…Shit.

So after applying pancake “Fair” colored orange over my primer on Saturday, I decided to swing by Sephora for an upgrade. Guess what? Too effing busy to help me. Awesome. (Normally I can help myself in a store like that, but this is the ONE area of makeup where I really need someone else’s expertise!) So the gal told me to schedule an official consultation so they would have time set aside for me. But since they were too busy to even do THAT, and since there are other store locations that would be more convenient anyway, I figured I’d hit the Downtown shop for said assistance.

Side note: did you know they’ve now made it completely impossible to actually call any retail Sephora location? Yeah, you can leave a voicemail for the store manager and pray s/he’ll get back to you, but that’s it. Nice CS, guys!

Anywho — I *think* I’ll wind up going with Make Up For Ever’s Invisible Coverage HD foundation. There appear to be a zillion shades, reviews plus product description suggest it looks good in pics, and it seems widely available. But DAMN if it isn’t expensive! I hope it’s worth the dough. And I hope the negative reviews are wrong, yikes!

I’m off to Sephora on my lunch break today to hopefully get some hands-on help, or at the very least schedule a consultation time. Since my trial run with Carina is this Saturday, I really wanted to have the shade picked out so I could bring it along, since I’d rather use stuff I’ve tried out. Guess I’ll a) return to the office with a rainbow of beige streaks along my jawline, heh, and b) wear foundation every day this week to work so I can try the stuff out. This will be interesting, to say the least!

* All foundation shades look orange and dark on me, except the ones that err in a vastly different overkill direction. My very first ever foundation that my mom got me was a MAC heavy coverage one in a color called Alabaster, which was FREAKY pale and made me look scary dead which is hard to do. And my first concealer, from this crappy shop no longer in existence at Southcenter Mall, was pink-toned like my skin but way too dark for me, so it just made me look hung over when I wore it under my eyes. At twelve years old. Why is it SO HARD to find a good shade for pale pink-toned skin? Ack!

It’s not just the canvas

I recently became interested in cream and gel eyeliner formulas, after reading some EDS raves about how long-lasting and smudge-proof MAC Fluidline is. And I wound up doing a couple of MUA swaps in which I inherited a MAC Fluidline pot and a Smashbox Cream Eyeliner, so suddenly I had a cheap and easy way to test these babies out. But I was TERRIBLE at applying them! I just couldn’t figure out how to make them go on nicely, even though I consider myself a relatively savvy makeup user.

So I did a little research. The Smashbox description of my newly-received swap item recommended using their #21 Arced Liner Brush, so I checked out that product on their site.

I’d actually never seen a bent brush like this — probably because I’ve never used cream/gel eyeliner before. I picked up a slightly cheaper (but still very high-quality and super-soft) Sephora version, their Professional Platinum Angled Eyeliner Brush #23. It also looks like you can get Bare Escentuals or Benefit versions for cheaper, but I don’t trust those brushes as much as I trust Sephora’s Professional line. (I strongly prefer dense, synthetic brushes that never shed a hair, and Too Faced and Sephora are my go-to brush companies.)

This cracks me up, because I should’ve known the right brush would make all the difference. I could never master those artfully deep-set slightly-smoky triangles you can do on your eyelid, until I got my Too Faced Angled Eye Shadow Brush. And applying mineral powder concealer to blemishes became infinitely easier with my Sephora Professional Concealer Brush #46 and my Everyday Minerals Oval Concealer brush (I alternate them so they have time to dry between applications). I may be a makeup savant, but I’m only beginning to call myself a tool savant. Once I can fully master an eyelash curler without getting that horrible crimp line, I’ll be ready for my certificate.

I’m just loving how my new eyeliners look. They create great definition, without disappearing like a normal eyeliner pencil, and without creating as sharp a line as a liquid liner. (They’re much more forgiving during the application process than liquid liners, too.) I find it a bit more awkward to do my left eye than my right, but I manage okay — the bent shaft of the brush really makes it a lot easier. Now, if only they could make ALL beauty tools so ergonomic — I might never burn myself with my straightening iron again!