I find makeup to be mostly completely baffling. It wasn’t until Instagram and my recent, reluctant watching of The Bachelor that I realized how little I know about it. Everyone looks so airbrushed—matte lips, contoured cheeks, and massive, soft-focused brows. I could attempt it, but I usually ended up exiting the bathroom looking like I’d just been down to Clown Town.
Which is why I was pretty floored to get a full tutorial and makeover from the resident Bobbi Brown expert at Saks Fifth Avenue here in Richmond for Spring Beauty Week (2/16-2/26). Despite being roughly SEVENTEEN years older than the lovely girl doing my makeup, I felt like a kindergartener sitting in on an advanced calculus class.
Speaking of Instagram, I swear that men are (peripherally? subconsciously?) more informed about makeup these days and less horrified by a turned out face than they used to be. I’m looking at you, Jenner weirdos. I think it’s set a scary new standard, but one I’m happy my man isn’t totally on board with. But it is intimidating.
If you haven’t read this hysterical, satirical piece from McSweeney’s called “What Heterosexual Men Think During Sex,” it’s pretty funny.
I’m really enjoying the shape of her eyebrows. She doesn’t over-pluck like Marlene Dietrich or go too bushy like Keira Knightly. Just the perfect amount of eyebrow pencil and not too much of an arch either — she’s made it look so natural even though she’s clearly applied some gel and used a spoolie to even out the color. This is just really turning me on.
Somehow, I don’t feel like this is even that far-fetched, especially given it was written in 2015 and things have progressed a bit since then. Depilatory focus aside, it’s a funny commentary on men wanting effortless perfection while consciously ignoring the inhumane amount of actual effort (and pain, and danger) that goes into it all.
And I didn’t even know what a spoolie was until Monday night—but now I do!
Below: my before, the Bobbi Brown temptation station, my lovely Beauty Week gift, and my after.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about makeup, having just turned 36. Just the right amount can work wonders. A hair over too much, and I look like a painted corpse. But over the last year, rediscovering femininity and bodacious hair and cleavage and lingerie and stuff, I’ve wanted to push the envelope a little with my makeup. Why not? Which is why an invite to come get my makeup done at Saks Fifth Avenue for Beauty Week came at the perfect time—and hours before Monday’s episode of the Bachelor, aka matte lip madness.
So let’s talk about what I learned real quick.
- Spoolies are your brows’ best friend. Man! She doubled down on my brows and went for a little more drama than an everyday look, just for fun. But I watched as she drew around the outline of my brows with an angled pencil, then worked it all in with that spoolie, and poof: I was ready to take a selfie on a chairlift in Aspen with only those babies peeking out between my helmet and goggles.
- E’s and 3’s. I’d never heard this before. Did you know this is the proper way to apply bronzer around the outside of your face to lightly contour? Around your brows, cutting in at your cheeks, then back out along your jawline. A capital E on one side, a 3 on the other. I tried it this a.m. and it left my center face and cheek bones dewy and reflecting light.
- A shimmery highlighter down the center of your nose! The one product I wish I’d bought was the Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder. I sort of wanted to eat the powder out of the compact it looked so luscious. Tip: Rub it on your fingertip then run it down the bridge of your nose.
- Cool-toned bronzer is your friend. When you think bronzer, you’re probably always thinking super golden, orangey brown. But I learned that a more taupe, mauve-ish bronzer is more subtle, elegant, and natural—especially on my skin tone. It seems more modern too, somehow.
- Milk does a body good. I loved everything in the Extra Repair line—because without moisture, I look like a made-up mummy. But I can’t get too greasy or I start to melt. The nourishing milk was pretty money—slightly tacky at first, then just left me soft and plump.
Above, some sweet freebies to go into my Machu Picchu bag—really just a shoebox full of samples I’m hoarding for the day I go backpacking in Chile and need to keep my load light while also being able to apply high-end scrubs and serums in the morning around the smoldering remains of a campfire.
Below, the Extra line, plus my little tin of lip balm that came home with me, far left.
Below, the finished product—minus a little brow, which Chad noticed I had deposited onto my cheek by accident on the drive home.
Really, the highlighter on the cheek and the brows sealed the whole deal for me—they make my eyes pop out of my skull and gave me the cheek bones I’ve never had. (I know this because a coworker once told me, “You’d be so beautiful if you only had some cheek bones.” Thanks, dude!)
Thanks so much to Saks and Bobbi Brown and the team for having me in and being so sweet—and be sure to go by or shop beauty online until Feb 26 and jazz up your Machu Picchu bag.