After reading Nora Ephron’s “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” I should know better than to write this post. She pokes fun at the extreme measures and ridiculous fads that women will go to and follow in order to preserve their youthfulness and boost their beauty, even mentioning by name Strivectin SD, an anti-aging “agent” for which I shelled out nearly $100 and from which I saw no material results. And yet…the minute Molly Sims or Alexa Chung claim that they “live by” a particular product or brand, I can’t get to my computer fast enough. And I have the embarrassing title of “VIB” at Sephora to prove it, meaning that I’ve spent over $1,000 on beauty products in the last year. (Shame.on.me.)
The preamble notwithstanding, I want to share a handful of my favorite beauty items for your consideration. As indicated above: take with a grain of salt.
I can’t remember where I first read about Exfolikate ($85, but you can get a smaller trial size for $22 to try it on for size), but this exfoliant seriously works. Anytime I’m feeling like my skin looks a little dull, I use this miracle treatment and look instantly brighter, more renewed…dare I say glowing?
I have worn eye cream since I was about 17 years old. I am proud of this fact now, as I am convinced this will shave years off my appearance as I head into middle aged-dom. (When does this start?) I have used Shiseido’s White Lucent Anti-Dark Circles Eye Cream ($55) for a few years now. Whether or not it actually treats dark circles is up for debate. (I have dark, dark, dark under eyes. Like, it sometimes looks like I was punched in both eyes.) BUT – it is the perfect consistency: thick, quenching, and yet non-greasy — and a little goes a long way. I also use Shiseido’s Brightening Protective Cream ($54) on the rest of my face for the same reasons: good consistency, and a little goes a long way. I love this stuff.
I mentioned my problematic dark undereyes above. Enter the best thing since sliced bread for my fellow dark-under-eyed sistahs: Cle de Peau Beaute concealer ($70). Yes, it’s expensive as $%*&. In the words of Cosmo Casterini from one of my all-time favorite movies, Moonstruck: “Yes, it costs money. It costs money because it saves money.” OK, so maybe that quote doesn’t truly apply here, but this stuff is pure gold. I was intrigued after a high school classmate of mine wrote to me that she didn’t even know she needed concealer until she used this. Well, I know I need concealer, and this stuff blew my mind.
My Mom has taught me many things, and one of the most important has been that one must always have multiple tubes of Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream ($21) in one’s home, car, and purse. I just discovered that there is a “fragrance-free” version of the original cream, which is kind of a sacrilege. The original has a really nasty bandaid-y smell that I used to dread as a child. (My mom puts this on everything. A burn, a cut, chapped lips, rough skin, a bruise. You name it, 8-Hour cream fixes it.) When I first married Mr. Magpie, I would occasionally force him into putting this cream on whatever cut/abrasion du jour he was facing. (Maybe this is true of all men, but Mr. Magpie constantly has a new wound from the backyard, from picking up trash, from…whatever men do.) He resisted me for a long time, saying that it smelled bad, but now I hear him going into my medicine cabinet for it whenever he has brutally chapped lips from the wicked Chiberian winters or a new scar or whatever the case may be.
Trust me: you will become a convert soon enough.
If I were on a desert island, mascara would be in my top 10 must-have items. And I’ve never found a better mascara than DiorShow ($25). My sister and I are addicted to this inky, goopy brand — the thicker the lash, the better. We learned this from our beauty pageant cousin, who we pretty much worshiped as children. She was beautiful, tan, and had the longest lashes we’d ever seen. She told us: “Wear lots of mascara. As goopy as it can get.” We followed her instructions to the letter, even now, 15 years later. In fact, my sister will occasionally send me selfies zoomed in on her eyes with one word to accompany the picture: “Goopy.”
Mascara can really pull you together on a bad day. It can make you look awake after a sleepless night. And it just feels like the most womanly thing in the world.
Related: Almay oil-free makeup remover pads ($5). I use these every single day — they are great at taking off eye makeup, and don’t involve a cotton ball and grease. I.love.these.
I’ve gotten into playing around with bold lip colors over the past few years. I love to throw my hair up into a bun and wear a bright pink lip with what I call my “Denim Dan” look: dark wash J. Brands, chambray shirt, and a huge bulky statement necklace. And for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why my lipstick would last for about one glass of wine and then all but disappear. Enter the Mac Prep + Primer ($16).
This stuff really keeps your lipstick in place all night long, especially when you supplement your lipstick with lipliner. I know this because I went to the MAC store on New Year’s Eve to have them affix faux lashes and they ended up doing a dramatic red lip for me at the same time. They used this stuff and my red lip stayed from around 11 am until after midnight. Mmmmmagic. BTW, a few of my favorite lip colors: Nars’ Roman Holiday (pastel pink, $26); Nars’ Barabarella (peachy, $26); YSL’s Le Fuchsia (hot pink, $35); and MAC’s Dangerous (orange-red, $16).
Fresh’s Hesperides body lotion ($22.50) is a true staple. I continue to think I’ll try something new after my next bottle is dunzo, and I get to the bottom, and I instantly reorder a new one. The grapefruit scent is perfection, the consistency TDF, and it really moisturizes well.
I’m a sucker for all things DryBar, but I particularly love their hair clips ($16) — so well designed for blow-drying your own hair in sections. I also die over the scent of their shampoo and conditioner ($23 each) even though my hair is often tangly as a result.
…but tangly hair won’t get me down, thanks to a little widget-of-a-toy my mom gave me in my stocking a few years ago: the Goody TangleFix ($8).
This brush thing works miracles. I swear by it. Once I’ve worked my knots out, I use a Mason Pearson brush, which I also cherish. But it’s not as good at getting the tangles worked out.I just love the Fresh lip treatments ($22.50). They aren’t sticky, they add a little color, and they taste great. I have a few of these scattered throughout my bags, and they are always a welcome little discovery for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Not mentioned above but probably just as important in my personal grooming repertoire:
+Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer ($43). I could order this by the case. You just throw a little on and your skin looks evened out without appearing as though it’s wearing anything at all.
+Nars bronzer ($38). Super natural-looking. I can’t switch to any other brand. Ever.
+Bobbi Brown Jet eye pencil ($25). This stuff lasts. Actually, it’s a little tough to get off, which is a good sign.
+Tweezerman tweezers ($14). I’m pretty sure every girl has a pair, and once you have a good pair, you hang on to them for several decades.
+Neutrogena face cleansing pads ($7). For those nights where I can’t be bothered to wash my face, these are genius. Also great for traveling.