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!)

Tools don’t ALWAYS get the job done.

Don’t get me wrong — I learned that the right brush is dang important for certain makeup jobs, especially eye-related tasks.  But give me a break!

I subscribe to Nordstrom’s marketing emails, and they recently sent out a blast about all the Nordstrom beauty exclusives they had coming up in their sale.  Being the beauty junkie that I am, I glanced and spotted this baby — the Smokey Eye Brush.

Now, what gal isn’t gonna be drawn by that title?  I mean, smokey eyes are a) hot, and b) difficult to pull off.  (Creating them, I mean — pulling them off looks-wise is just a matter of confidence and perhaps candlelight.  And, uh, context.)

I’ve always struggled with smokier shades, because the super-dark, super-pigmented shadows I use like Cargo Qatar are tricky since they show every mistake.  So I thought Trish here might be helping me out, and I sucked it up and paid the steep $52 for just one brush — after all, I needed to qualify for free shipping with another purchase.

Well guess what, ladies?  This brush is BULL.  It a) doesn’t fit the size of my eye (too short), b) doesn’t fit the shape of my eye (too symmetrical), and c) doesn’t feel all that great or retain powder properly in order to help achieve that elusively easy smokey look the ad copy boasts.

Thank goodness Nordstrom has a great return policy.

DuWop Gray Eyes

I purchased DuWop’s Gray Eyes kit at Sephora on impulse. It’s a fabulous idea — I often want to touch up my eye makeup at work or just before heading out to happy hour, but I never want to actually carry four or five different shades plus the required brushes.  So this tiny streamlined kit with real brushes in it caught my attention immediately.

Each kit comes with four shades of eye shadow plus a coordinating cream liner and a double-ended brush with decent bristles, all housed nicely in a tiny mirrored compact.  And gray is my go-to palette, so that was easy. In the end, I was both enamored of and irritated by this little kit — I wish the actual formulations were higher in quality, but otherwise it’s a great idea that just needs fine-tuning.

Let’s start with the positive!  The cream liner included is surprisingly impressive.  It goes on easily and gives good coverage as long as you apply plenty.  It doesn’t seem to smudge or flake too readily, and the brush they included isn’t the worst possible one.  (I personally prefer angled or bent liner brushes for cream liner, but the flat one they provided is surprisingly usable, and appears to be made of soft Taklon instead of scratchy cheap animal hair.)

However, the four shadows definitely disappoint.  I can’t tell if it’s because they’re weak on pigment or not finely milled enough or what, but they just don’t seem to grip onto the brush or your lids very easily, even with my Holy Grail of Eye Shadow Primers.  I find that I have to cake a TON of shadow on in order to get the look I’m going for, and I don’t generally go for a particularly smoky-eyed image!

I thought using one of my regular makeup brushes instead of the small one provided would help, but alas — even my super-awesome Too Faced Teddy Bear Hair brushes couldn’t make these shadows shine.  Maybe they only work when you use them in conjunction with DuWop’s Payoff shadow intensifier… but at $32 for this mediocre little kit alone, I’m not interested in spending extra on coordinating lacquer.  I’ll still cart it around in my on-the-go makeup bag, don’t get me wrong — I’d just only ever use it to add 5 o’clock oomph to my normal grey shadow job, courtesy of Stila, Too Faced and sometimes Tarte.  Good effort, though, DuWop.

B Minus.