Sweethearts! You may remember me excitedly harping on about how I was once the Beauty Correspondent at The Toast. It was an absolute blast and I loved every minute. I’ve decided to share my previous beauty columns with you lovely people- so get yours! Huge shout out to the legendary Mallory Ortberg, Co-editor of Awesomeness, for the title: “Putting Your Face On With Adjpants.” This was my very first column.
This is the story of how an awkward, funny-looking teenager became an awkward (funny-looking but working it) woman who loves make-up, nail art and all things sparkly.
Now darlings when I say I was awkward, I feel like you don’t yet understand the severity of the situation. Please see conclusive evidence below:
Is that clearer now? May I direct your attention to the glasses which covered approximately 99% of my face? The half-up-half-down side pony? And I presume you SEE that scrunchie?
So growing up I just accepted that I was never going to be pretty. Instead I concentrated on quietly blending into the background. But you know how sometimes a person comes crashing into your life and shakes things up? When I was in my early 20s I became friends with an absolute glamazon. I was intimidated by her swishy-shiny hair and immaculate make-up, but she turned out to be lovely and warm. She took me under her wing, and one day she asked if she could try some make-up on me. Just this once. When she finally handed me the mirror afterwards I sat there in disbelief. It was me- but the best possible version of me. Defined. Glowing. I suddenly sat up straighter and lifted my chin. From that day on I stopped trying to blend in and started learning how to stand out.
I started asking for advice at beauty counters, and voraciously watching YouTube videos to teach myself tricks. As I gained confidence, I incorporated the tips into my everyday routine. Make-up is an art form, and your (gorgeous) face is the canvas.
But before painting your face, you gotta take care of that base (poetry y’all)! I am a huge advocate of natural skincare, having grown up in a household where aloe vera gel was the answer to everything. Insect bite? Get the aloe. Rash? GET. IT. Leg fell off? Child, what did I tell you about getting that damn aloe?
These are my natural skincare faves:
Aloe vera gel: Incredible for skin irritation. Aloe gel is to pimples what Chuck Norris is to bad guys. Always look for the purest gel possible- most wholefoods stores sell a 99% organic aloe gel. I use it every night as a sort of face mask. Avoiding the eye area, smear on a thin layer and let it dry before bedtime.
Tea tree oil: This antibacterial oil is also fab for skin irritations or minor infections. Because I’m hardcore I get the 100% pure essential oil and use it neat. If you have more sensitive skin, look out for it as a blended oil. When I get those epic chin pimples I just dab this on directly, and the spot usually disappears by the next day. Quick note- this stuff is STRONG yo! Wash your hands after using it or you’ll forget, touch your eyes, and shriek in tingly burny agony.
Witch hazel and Rosewater: These are my favorite natural toners. The former is a glorious astringent skin cleanser. It removes excess oils and whatever grime may be lurking in your pores, waiting to cause trouble right before a hot date. The latter is pure vintage- you may remember seeing a bottle of Glycerine & Rosewater on your mum’s dressing table as a kid. I don’t need to tell you that mums are ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING, including this toner. It gently refreshes and cleanses your skin without over-drying, and you’ll smell like an exotic rose garden. I recommend the witch hazel for oilier skin, and rosewater for the more sensitive gals. Remember- as always look for these two in their purest forms! In fact just take up residence at your local wholefoods store. The staff are usually nice, knowledgeable, and likely to feed you free almonds.
Coconut oil: I cannot possibly overstate this. Coconut oil is everything you have ever needed. Frizzy hair? Gone. Dry skin? BANISHED. This miracle oil is a beauty all-rounder. Go and buy some, I beseech you. Ask for organic extra virgin coconut oil; it’s cold-pressed to maintain the nutrients. Not only can you baste yourself in it daily, you can also cook with it or eat it straight from the jar. The oil is solid at room temperature, so just pop the bottle in some hot water before use.
I actually make most of my hair and skin products out of these few ingredients. Making your own concoctions is fun, easy and cheap! Otherwise look out for great natural skincare ranges and use this simple tip: Always read the ingredients. Remember they’re listed in order of greatest quantity first. So if you’re buying “pure aloe vera shampoo” and aloe is listed near the end of the ingredients, you have been caught in a web of DECEIT. Don’t stand for it honey.
Now on to my two favourite looks!
The Girl Next Door
This is my standard everyday look. The idea is to look fresh, glowing and effortlessly fabulous. So much so that people will exclaim “Gosh you’re looking well!” And you can nonchalantly flick your hair and say “Oh, these old rags?” The key to this look is luminous skin, flushed cheeks, and a nude lip. I’m usually a MAC gal but you can easily recreate this look using any of your fave cosmetics! Products used:
MAC Pro-longwear concealer in NW50: I start by using this darker concealer shade to cover any blemishes on the darker parts of my face, like under my chin
MAC Studio Fix Foundation fluid in MW47: I then use this lighter foundation shade to conceal any other blemishes
Bare Minerals Loose powder in Golden Deep: Set the concealer with a mineral powder and fluffy powder brush. Mineral powders give light coverage with a natural glow
MAC Mineralize Blush in Love Thing: This is a pinky shade with subtle gold shimmer. Swirl on the apples of your cheeks and then arc upwards along your cheekbones for a sculpted finish
Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil in Black/Brown: Use tiny strokes and follow your natural arch. Start from the outer ends first and work your way inwards, lightening the strokes for a natural gradient effect
Maybelline Volum’Express Cat-Eyes mascara: Concentrate on the outer top lashes for a wide-eyed effect
Maybelline lipstick in Pink Sizzle: A very subtle nude/pink with a tiny bit of shimmer- just slick this on over some lip balm
You’re done! Go on with your bad self!
The Pin-Up Girl
When I want to crank up the glamour, I go for a vintage bombshell look. This look is all about immaculate skin, big defined eyes, bold brows and a perfectly lined red lip. Products used:
MAC Pro-longwear concealer in NW50: As above darlings.
MAC Studio Fix Foundation fluid in MW47: Again, as above.
MAC Studio Fix powder in N9: For a sophisticated look like this one, go for a powder foundation, which will have more coverage than a sheer powder
MAC Sheertone Blush in Ambering Rose: Use a warm neutral toned blush for this look, as the focus should be on the eyes and lips.
Benefit BrowZings kit in Dark: Define those brows girl- I love this kit because it comes with a dark wax to shape, and a matching powder to set!
Rimmel Masterliner in Black: You want a winged eyeliner with this look. Subtle or bold, it’s up to you! Gently pull your closed eyelid taut with your finger while you apply
Benefit Bad Gal Lash mascara: Use the lushest, most voluminous mascara you have, or opt for a set of thick falsies
MAC lipliner in Cherry and Maybelline lipstick in Red Revival: Roll up your sleeves and sharpen your lipliner- it just got REAL in here. Start by carefully lining your cupids bow. If you want to exaggerate it for a more pouty look, why not? Outline the rest of your lip shape, using small strokes. Tip: Fill in your lips completely with the pencil, focusing on the inner corners, because these are the areas that wear off first. Then follow with your lipstick. Blot on a tissue and reapply your lipstick for maximum staying power.
Done! Now go and stand on a conveniently placed air vent in a flowy white dress.
Now let’s talk about my love for nail art. I was always an art geek and it was a natural progression to start experimenting with colour on my nails. My mum (who is one of the most incredible and glamorous women I know) used to have this huge tub chock-full of nail polish. I always had my hot little hands in there, and would re-do my nails several times a day. I would paint each nail a different colour, dust them with glitter, glue on gems. I then started using trimmed paintbrushes to add patterns and shapes.
I feel like nail art is just another mode of self-expression, another way of saying “HEY WORLD, I’m here and this is what I’m about.” And it’s really not as hard as it looks! Here are a few of my favourite designs so far:
For me, make-up has never been a mask to hide behind. On the contrary, experimenting with it can actually teach you to make the very best of what you’ve been blessed with. In my case, it helped a painfully shy girl come out of her shell.