Monthly Archives: August 2017

One Model, 41 Beauty Looks

In the past month, the American model Cara Taylor walked 41 runways across the four fashion capitals — each with a different hair-and-makeup look. “This time, there was more of an emphasis on natural beauty,” she noted, instead of the “no-makeup” look that actually requires gobs of products. “At some shows, they put on a tiny bit of foundation, and that’s all.” Backstage, she learned that to keep lips moisturized, “you should use lip conditioner and not Chapstick, because Chapstick is mostly a protector,” she shared, a tip worth keeping in mind year-round. Here, Taylor’s season of beauty looks, in pictures.

Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon

A couple of years ago I had a light bulb moment. So many women color their hair to cover the gray. Many resent the effort and expense, and it’s a major way in which we make ourselves invisible as older women. When a group is invisible, so are the issues that affect it. Suppose the world saw how many we are, and how beautiful, I mused. Suppose we morphed together, in solidarity: the Year of Letting Our Hair Go Gray! It would be transformative!

I posted the idea on my This Chair Rocks Facebook page. I got a ton of blowback. I deserved it. “You go first,” was one notable comment, so I did, bleaching my whole head. (I keep part of it white, partly as an age-solidarity dye job and partly because I figure no one believes the brown is real.) Mainly I learned an important lesson: Who was I to be telling women how they should look or what they should do? To each her own. We each have to age in our own way on whatever terms work for us.

One thing we can all agree on, though? Aging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked.

These can be very effective strategies, and I completely understand why so many of us engage in them. No judgment, I swear. But trying to pass for younger is like a gay person trying to pass for straight or a person of color for white. These behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary.ession with the way women look is less about beauty than about obedience to a punishing external standard — and power. When women compete to “stay young,” we collude in our own disempowerment. When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy. What else we can we all agree on? This is one bad bargain. It sets us up to fail. It pits us against one another. It’s why the poorest of the poor, around the world, are old women of color.

We’re Living in the Golden Age of Contouring

With light and shadow, it’s possible not just to accentuate your features — but to reshape them.

Makeup lovers are a flighty species, enthralled by millennial pink one day and grungy black-plum the next. Look more closely, though, and two tidy camps emerge: One consists of peacocks who treat their faces as Technicolor canvases; the other of faux naturalists. But they are united in one respect — both share an obsession with the architecture of the face.

Contouring — using darker shades of concealer or foundation to create dimension and a more defined facial structure — had long been employed by makeup artists, but five years ago, the technique went mainstream, and was soon followed by the rise of the complementary practices of strobing (applying light, often shimmery shades on the higher planes of the face) and baking (applying a thick coat of powder on the cheeks to set makeup and neutralize harsh angles). This isn’t so much the season as it is the era of face architecture. On the runway, it was most recently found at the summer couture shows — at Dior, there was no makeup at all but for the slightest hints of highlighter, while at Margiela, the models wore multiple layers of highlighter, their skin glistening with an otherworldly sheen.

Achieving this sort of chiaroscuro can seem an artful and even artistic pursuit, one that transcends mere vanity. But the real reason contouring has become the essential makeup language for our age is that the process was born for the screen, and what is our current era but one lived through, and on, the screen? Think of Marlene Dietrich, an early beneficiary of contouring as a tuxedo-clad cabaret singer in the 1930 film “Morocco,” her cheekbones announcing themselves beneath the tilted brim of her top hat. Without high definition or color, Hollywood’s early makeup artists didn’t need to worry whether their work might appear clownish offscreen. Even so, Max Factor sold a version of the look to the masses with his full coverage Pan-Cake line and contouring tutorials. (Today’s equivalents include brands like Becca, known for its highlighters, and Anastasia Beverly Hills, whose contour palettes are best sellers at Sephora.)

Contouring fell out of fashion in favor of a more self-consciously “natural” look, but in the ’80s and ’90s, the trend was revived by drag queens, who used professional stage makeup brands like Ben Nye, Kryolan and Mehron to both soften masculine features (strong jaws, pronounced brow bones), and create feminine ones through copious strobing, which can have a plumping effect. Elements of drag culture have since trickled down into the broader culture: Along with false lashes’ popularity and the sequined packaging of star makeup artist Pat McGrath’s line of coveted pigments, the most significant development is how profoundly we’ve succumbed to the promise of transformation. No longer do you have to do the hard work of accepting the face you’ve been given — now you can just reshape it. On her website, the British makeup artist and cosmetics company founder Charlotte Tilbury offers a video tutorial on just that. She recommends applying a pale line of concealer down the center of the face and then patting sculpting powder along either side, describing the effect as “a little bit like virtual surgery.”

Of course, the ability to become someone other than oneself has always been both makeup’s appeal and its threat. Witnessing Asian women use contouring to whittle down their noses, for example, inevitably leads to questions about what was wrong with their noses in the first place. The aim, crushingly, can be to look white. Or not: In June, Kim Kardashian West promoted her new Crème Contour and Highlight Kit with pictures of herself looking especially contoured and extremely tan. Accusations of blackface ensued. Among other things, the case was a reminder that with architecture comes architectural integrity — however skilled the renovator, the bones of the structure must be respected.

Multidimensional Lip Looks Inspired by Our Favorite Metals

Fact: Multidimensional lips are in. With muted neutrals and natural nudes taking a back seat to disco-worthy glitter and megawatt metallics, we’re game to put just about any color or finish on our lips—the bolder, the better.

Here’s another fact: Jouer Cosmetics just released a limited edition collection, and if you’re into mesmerizing metallic lips, it should be right up your alley. Along with highlighters and an eye shadow palette, the Skinny Dip Collection includes warm, luminous shades of the brand’s cult-favorite Long-Wear Lip Crème and Lip Topper. Lip Toppers are especially useful when whipping up unique lip looks—they layer easily over other colors, adding a hint of shimmer and a comfortable, glossy finish.

Considering our love for a good molten-metallic lip, we had to take these shades for a test drive. Keep reading to see how we designed three multidimensional lip looks, inspired by our favorite metals.

You’ll need:

  • Long-Wear Lip Crème in Pamplemousse (warm gold with a metallic finish)
  • Lip Topper in St. Tropez, (limited edition peachy pink with a shimmer finish)
  • Lip Topper in Skinny Dip, (sheer golden nude with a shimmer finish)
  • Lip Topper in Tanlines, (metallic bronze with a shimmer finish)