Lips, Maintenance

Lip Prep School

I was 15 or 16 the first time I wore bright red lipstick out in public. I felt really ostentatious and awkward, like I might be doing something dumb, and I felt like for sure everyone was looking at me. It was the same sort of scary feeling I’d experienced the day I debuted my rhinestoned cat eyed white sunglasses into the world.

Scary, but SO RIGHT.

I’ve been in love with bright lip colors ever since then. There is no better way to insure that I will spend lots of time pouting at myself in the mirror than to hand me a tube of red lipstick. I will stand there, making erotic mouths at myself, all day.

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(Photo of my own sexymouth that was already on my phone.)

(I should be embarrassed.)

I like to wear bright lipstick as often as I can. Unfortunately, I also like to sometimes gnaw my lips into a shredded disaster area. Luckily, these two hobbies of mine CAN coexist thanks to my ultra effective lip repair regimen. I do these steps almost every time I decide to wear a bright or creamy lipstick.

STEP ONE – We can have lots of fun. Moisturizing.

For day to day wear, not all lip balms are created equal. But for this, you can use anything that will moisturize your lips. The goal is to get all that dead skin and gross crud really soft and ready to be sloughed. Get that Chapstick, butter, or whatever and apply a generous amount – really pile it on. Now, go do something else for at least ten minutes.

STEP TWO – There’s so much we can do…to exfoliate your lips.

OK. We let our mouths get a good soak in all that grease. It’s time to scrub it all off! You can use a wet, warm washcloth, your toothbrush, or one of the many available lip exfoliants. I prefer to use LUSH’s Mint Julips Sugar Lip Scrub; it’s good and scrubby, it doesn’t dissolve right away, and it’s zero Weight Watchers points. I mean, probably, right? That’s what I tell myself when I’m eating it off my own mouth anyways.

Take your exfoliator, a little bit of warm water, and gently scrub your lips in circular motions. Scrub them until they feel nice and smooth. Sometimes, if my lips are especially chewed up, I’ll apply more lip balm and come back and exfoliate again a few hours later.

STEP THREE – It’s just you and me. (Me, in this case, is your chapstick.)

After you’ve given your lips a rough, but loving exfoliation, you need to apply more moisturizer. They’ll be super soft and pillowy, so now is when you want to use something good, and not something that dries out your lips. My very favorite lip moisturizer is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It’s a little higher priced, but since I started using it, my lips have never been so consistently soft, even when I’m not wearing it. Smith’s Rosebud Salve is also a really great product. It’s only $6, and you can use it on your cuticles too. Whatever you use, slather it on those smooth kissy lips!

STEP FOUR – I can give you more…opportunities to wear dramatic lip colors!

I do this moisturize/exfoliate thing about once a week. Sometimes, in the shower, I’ll just run whatever face exfoliator I’m using over my lips while they’re soft from the warm water. The trick is to make it a part of your regular routine. The couple of minutes of hands on time is worth it for how good it makes your lips feel, and for the joy of putting on a hot lip color and having it not look like shit.

STEP FIVE – Don’t you know that the time has arrived.

FOR ME TO STOP WITH THIS TERRIBLE NEW KIDS THING I STARTED.

HUHHH!

NKOTB

(L to R: my boyfriend, Jordan, Monkeyface, poor Jonathan, Ugh. Donnie)

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BODY-ODY-ODY, Maintenance

Trader Joe’s Prenatal Vitamins

I am not pregnant. In fact, I’m drunk right now!

Just kidding!

I’m high.

On life.

And drugs.

And these vitamins*!

I learned about them from Mindy Kaling. My good, personal, imaginary friend, Mindy Kaling.

Mindy says:

“Not only will they scare the shit out of your boyfriend if he visits your house, it will make your hair grow faster, thicker, and keep your skin glow-y and smooth.”

Beautiful hair AND a funny prank all in one bottle? Yes, please!

Before I started taking these, I had never finished a bottle of vitamins in my life. After I started taking them, and found out she was right on all counts, plus they do great things for your nails, AND they helped with my chronic anemia (I’m so precious and delicate, like an antique Taylor Swift doll), I gulped them down and bought more!

Thanks, my so-close-we’re-actually-more-like-sisters friend, Mindy! See you at brunch on Sunday with our other best friends; Tina Fey, Poehlcat, Julie Klausner, RuPaul and Adele.

 

*These vitamins won’t actually get you high. Sorry.

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Maintenance, Nails

Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids

I wasn’t joking about showing you the Band-Aids I use to cover my poor fingers. The one with the gold chains is my favorite! I wish I could get a whole box of just those.

When I was a kid, my mom made a deal with me that if I quit chewing my nails, she’d take me to get them professionally done. So, I moved on from gnawing on my nails and started picking at my cuticles instead. My fingies have hurt a lot over these last 20-something years, but I got my manicure, dammit. Neon green. Because it was the muthafuckin’ 80s, and I was 8, and I was RAD.

P.S. Please resist the urge to photoshop dicks into my hands.

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Maintenance

Faster Beauty School

Beauty School Dorm

“Hazel. Your hair isn’t big enough and you know it. This is beauty school, not nursing school, dammit!”

I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

I’ve been careless with your delicate faces.

In my frenzy to share the good news about the Sephora Pore Cleansing Pad, I failed to warn all of you about the dangers of over exfoliating. Thankfully, it’s only been a few days, so there shouldn’t be too much damage done.

Please forgive me. You know I gets excited!

To make amends, let’s go over some basic skincare. We’ll put that esthetics license* to work!

Hey, man. I didn’t spend all those months locked in a room with bad teenagers** for nothing.

Cleanse

Before you can choose an effective cleanser, you have to be realistic with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your skin. Not your perceived weaknesses. The actual weaknesses. Just because you always had oily skin while you were a teenager, that doesn’t mean you’ll still have oily skin in your 20s, or 30s. You can’t keep using the same types of cleansers forever. I learned that lesson the hard way. I legit blame my own inability to follow this rule for the nearly two year struggle I’ve had with my skin.

A couple years ago, I was in the market for a new face wash. I’d always heard good things about Kiehl’s, and since we were living in LA, there was a Kiehl’s counter in a Bloomingdale’s close by. Practically fate, right?! Wrong. WRONG.

I went over there and had a whole conversation with the girl at the counter about their cleansers and masks. Purposely letting it drop that I was a licensed beauty professional, and not so purposely letting it drop that I was a huge asshole. I just really hate sitting through the whole fancy spiel about products. I don’t need to be sold to that way, it’s better for everyone if we don’t go through it, and I start to get bitchy immediately if we do.

Ugh. I’m totally just excusing my rampant self-importance right now. SOMEBODY HELP/STOP ME.

Anyways (GOOD LORD), when she asked what my skin was like, I told her the usual story: I’m pretty oily, I don’t get a lot of zits, but I battle with dullness. False. True. True. At this point, I was already most of the way through my 30th year, and I had been doing the same old routine for so long, I hadn’t realized that my skin had changed as I got older. I wasn’t that oily anymore. I think I was confusing “oily” with “sweaty.”

That’s so fucking gross. You’ll have to excuse me, I’m feeling particularly candid this morning.

Our skin tends to get drier as we age. Your skin changes a lot from your 20s to your 30s, I was out of my 20s, and not noticing the real reason why my skin care products had stopped working. This is the exact reason why, once a year or so, it’s so important to take stock of where your skin actually is. I think we sometimes get so hung up on what we’ve always thought our problems were, that we don’t see anything else. If you keep using products that address problems you don’t actually have anymore, your skin will only get worse. Cleansers for oily skin can over dry and cause oil production to increase. Acne cleansers can do the same thing, if you don’t need them anymore, leading to more acne. What a fucked up cycle, right?

I should have stopped using clarifying products, and started using combination or normal products. Instead, I bought another oil fighting cleanser and a fucking clay mask. Like an idiot. Horrifyingly, the combination of those two products totally demolished my skin. Both of my cheeks became giant, scaly surfaces. I mean, cheeks so dry and rough, they felt like scar tissue. It’s taken me nearly all of the time since then to repair the damage.

Find a good cleanser that will suit your specific skin care problems, and you have a good foundation.

Get that good cleanser and wash that face! Every day! It completely boggles my mind when people tell me they don’t have a face wash. Like, what the fuck are you doing with your life?! How do you take off your makeup? How do you clean away all the sweat and grime that lands on your face while you’re out being a person in the world? What else don’t you have?! Toothpaste?! Conventional wisdom says you should wash your face twice a day, in the morning and the evening. Personally, I usually only wash my face with cleanser in the evenings. In the mornings, if I’m not showering, I just use water.

Exfoliation

I woke up in the middle of the night, last night, and had a near meltdown when I realized I had condoned daily exfoliation to literally dozens of people. DOZENS! That was totally irresponsible of me. Especially since one of the first things I usually tell people is to stop exfoliating every day. Those cleansers with exfoliating beads in them bug the shit out of me. They’re usually too harsh and abrasive for daily use, and to make matters worse, they’re frequently used in acne cleansers. Exfoliating acne prone skin every day can cause an overproduction in oil, more irritation to the skin, and it can spread bacteria all around. If you have acne prone skin, you can gently exfoliate maybe once or twice a week.

That’s a good place to start for everyone.

If you want to get into an exfoliation routine, start out slowly, with a gentle exfoliating tool or scrub, once or twice a week. Then, if you feel like your skin can take more, increase the frequency. If your skin starts to feel tight, or tender, or bumpier than usual, you’re exfoliating too much. If you start getting more zits, you might be exfoliating too much. It’s really, really important that you don’t overwork your skin. Scale it back, and you’ll see good results. Cleaner, smoother, brighter skin.

Moisturize

Everyone should be moisturizing. EVERYONE. A lot of oily skinned people think they don’t need to, or shouldn’t moisturize. Not true! Moisturizing can help to balance out the oil production, and calm your skin. And most importantly, daily moisturizing is one of the most effective ways to combat aging.

Who wants dry, wrinkly old lady skin? Not fucking me. That’s for sure.

aubrey

In my experience, simple moisturizers work best. Things with too much perfume can be drying and irritating and that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do here. Apply your moisturizer after you wash your face. Every time. WATER can be drying too. Especially if you have crazy hard water, or you love hot showers. Those hot showers feel good, but they’ll dry your skin out soooooo bad. Worth it? The answer should be “no,” but I’m going to say “sometimes.” I’m not going to begrudge anyone the occasional super hot shower. Use a moisturizer with an SPF 15 for day to day, and one without for evenings, or any time you’ll be photographed with flash. SPFs show up white under flash. Eww! Don’t get caught looking busted like you can’t match your face to your neck.

*****

So, my skin care basics come in at over 1,000 words. You’re welcome? Sorry? I don’t know. I’m just so passionate about all of us being as good looking as possible!

*License only valid in CA

**Not all of those teenagers were bad. Some were completely adorable.

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Maintenance, Masks

Origins Drink Up Mask

originsdrinkup

Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask, $23

I am thrilled to announce that I have not lost my streak for spontaneity in my old age. Where ten years ago, I was getting into cars with strange dudes in unfamiliar cities; today, I am pushing back my nap because I randomly found a mask sample in a Sephora bag.

Unfortunately, the mask experiment didn’t end as well as the rides with strange dudes.

I’m not saying every ride with every stranger ended well. But, at least none of them ended up with burning and redness like this ride with an unknown mask did.

The consistency was cool and creamy, like a very thick fluid moisturizer. I had such high hopes while I was smoothing it onto my poor, dry cheeks. I was imagining the moment I would rinse off the remaining product to reveal my dewy, hydrated skin. Then, I was going to take my beautiful visage out into the world, so everyone at Von’s could be blessed by the otherworldly glow emanating from my face. I was really going to do a lot of good for a lot of people….

Instead, immediately after I finished congratulating my future self on her beautiful skin, I started to feel a burning under the mask. Moisturizers, in any form, should feel soothing! They shouldn’t hurt. This hurt! I kept at it though, because, shit, I don’t know, I always do. After all, one of my beauty mantras is, “If it burns, it’s working.” That’s patently misguided, ok for hair dye and peels, and absurd for a moisturizing mask. Not ok.

The instructions said to rinse off any remaining product after 10 minutes. I made it about 7. I’m stubborn, but not to the point that I’d burn off my own face.

After I rinsed my face, I did a thorough inspection. My dry patches were slightly less rough, but now my entire face felt raw and tender. I did not have a beautiful glow, and I did not look like I had been photoshopped by baby angels. I looked exactly the same, but pinker.

What the fuck, Origins?! This is the third time you’ve done me dirty. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I’m a big idiot, I guess.

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Maintenance, Masks, Upcoming

Testing Origins Drink Up Mask

Now under analysis in the laboratory…

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Origins Drink Up Mask

This was the best picture I had! I look like a crazy person.

Serving up Church Lady Realness, honey!

churchlady

 Review coming soon!

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Maintenance

Eyebrow Beat

Threading

BAM! EYEBROWS!

When I was in beauty school, our poor, old, overwhelmed instructor, Miss Lupe, told us that you can’t give someone an arch in their eyebrows that they don’t have.

Miss Lupe never met Amani.

Amani is totally beautiful, sort of quiet, and a fucking eyebrow threading artist. Every 2 weeks to a month, depending on how lazy I am and what my social calendar looks like, I go to Amani. I get in her chair, follow her instructions, and for $10, she takes her spool of thread and shows my caterpillar eyebrows and shameful mustache no mercy. As long as I don’t have to wait for her to finish someone else, I can be out of there in under ten minutes with a smooth upper lip, and two beautifully arched eyebrows. Eyebrows so fucking on point, they could only have been crafted by a gifted expert. She’s so good, she’s made an evangelist out of me.

Giving up waxing for threading is one of the smartest beauty decisions I’ve ever made.

Like, it maybe even ranks in my Top Five Best Life Decisions:

  1. Anytime I ever said, “I think I’m gonna stop drinking tonight.”
  2. When I decided to quit my telemarketing job. It was actually crushing my soul.
  3. Threading.
  4. Letting Jason touch my boobs on our first date. NAILED IT.
  5. Cymbalta!

Going to beauty school, and working in salons, I’ve seen layers of skin ripped off, burns of all sizes and severities, eyebrows almost completely taken off, and I was once witness to a very unfortunately ended men’s brazilian. I’VE HAD HOT WAX DROPPED IN MY EYE. Who among us hasn’t had a hole put in their eyebrow by an overzealous friend, or inexperienced salon employee? It’s dangerous out there for your face!

It’s really nice to take that possibility of getting maimed off the table.

Obviously, there are varying levels of talent and expertise to be found in threading salons (salons? parlors? what?). But, every rando thread job I’ve had was met with far less anxiety than my trips to an unknown wax provider.

I still fuck with waxing when it’s winter time, and I can let my leg hair really get wild. Of course, waxing my underarms is a year round fave. But, it would literally be idiotic for me to go back to waxing for my face.

It’s like the old saying goes, “Once you go thread, you’ll always be in bed. Because you’ll be so hot, everyone will want to do it with you.” Right? Yes? Yes.

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