Monday, November 21, 2011


Beauty Q&A: Makeup Brushes and the Pains of Being Appropriately Layered

I'm trying to be more of a grown-up lady about makeup application, and was wondering if you could provide an overview of the types of brushes I should be using? I have a fluffy one for blush, and one for applying eyeshadow as eyeliner (thanks to your tutorial!), but other than that I pretty much just use the applicator that comes with the makeup. How much should I expect to spend? And how often do you need to clean them?

Whoa, maybe you need to give us a makeup tutorial. You can use those applicators? Impossible. I refuse to believe it. But pretending it is true, one option is to stick with your current method. It's free and there is no rule saying you must use fancy brushes.

That said, I don't know what I would do without my five favorite, most often used brushes. Die? Unfortunately, this will not be a one-stop-shopping tidy list because it's taken years of trial and error to figure out what brushes work best for me and they are from all over the place. But, this should give you a general rule-of-thumb to work from. They are:

Honestly, you don't have to spend that much. These are my very favorites of all time, but I think the bottom-of-the-line lines from Sephora or MAC are wonderful, and they'll run you maybe $10-20 a pop. If you take care of your brushes, they can literally last for years. Years! About that: I wash mine whenever it occurs to me, which is maybe once every few weeks, or anytime I dirty them with some dramatically different color than I usually wear. Wet the brush and pump a little liquid hand soap into your palm, swirl the brush around for a minute until the soap is totally disgusting and murky, then rinse. Smooth the bristles back into place and lay flat to dry overnight.

I live in Alaska. It is so cold, and I realized that I hate this cold not so much because it's cold, but because in order to stay warm I always feel... well, like, a Macy's Day parade balloon. I  wear all of these layers and I wear pants over leggings over tights with snow pants and wool socks and blah blah blah SO MANY LAYERS. I have an office job, but I have to leave it and run errands often, and would prefer not to  spend a jillion hours suiting up for the cold. I know! I know! I should be able to dress myself for the cold. And I can, but I always feel like that kid in the snowsuit who can't  put her arms down because there's too much coat between her arm and her body. How do I stay warm, not feel like a weeble and not spend an extra 20 minutes  putting on pants?

Alaska! WHY!?!

Okay, I'm over it. Have you heard of this new HEATTECH heat-generating clothing from Uniqlo? I saw an ad for it on the subway and just looking at that word made me feel all humid. You don't have Uniqlo up there, so maybe one of our wonderful readers in a city that does will pick up a piece or two for you in exchange for cold, hard, cash. There are leggings and body warmers and and camis and long sleeve tops and so on. Wonderful.

Aside from that, I have always been a fan, ever since waaay back in the '70s when my mom sewed her own with a kit that came from some weird company, of the super long puffy down-filled coat. It's a classic for ladies in ridiculously cold places. And don't forget about leg warmers! They are the cute alternative to an extra pair of pants.

Or you could just move? You should probably just move.

I've been a CVS makeup kind of gal all my life — not even Revlon, more like Wet 'n' Wild. I asked a friend of mine what mascara she uses, and blah blah blah I ended up at Sephora where I actaully bought fancy mascara, and it has totally changed my life. It's amazing. Totally worth $16.50.

So, what's next? I have very little money, but am slowly coming around to grownuphood, or, to the concept of spending more money on a thing once that will last, rather than buying cheap things that are shitty and I have to replace. Maybe a good shampoo? I have kind of oily hair. I've been using Herbal Essences, which is fine, but boring. This is an entirely separate question, isn't it?

At first I thought, no, not shampoo because that's quite an investment seeing as how you go through it so quickly, but then you said Herbal Essences and *RECORD SCRATCH.* (Are you old enough to know what a record scratch is?) Throw it all away or give it to a teenager. I also suspect you have a Victoria's Secret body spray laying around. Goodbye!

Then, yes, upgrade your shampoo, not just because I'm being a snob and a bully about it, but because a salon formula will just be better for your hair and you can afford to be better to yourself now. Isn't being a grown up awesome? I don't pretend to know the science of it, but there are detergents in cheaper shampoos that strip your hair of moisture and color and can even break down the proteins in your hair. Once I went to a salon to have my hair lightened and the lady sent me home first with an unmarked mystery bottle of shampoo and told me to use it on my hair for 20 minutes a day for a week and come back. I did and it took the black out of my hair. I asked my hairstylist aunt what it probably was because the hairdresser was too fancy to tell me and she said, "Pantene. I don't think Pantene will admit to it though." So, just sayin'.

As for what brand to switch to? Pick a price first and decide from there. You can go ultra lux with Frederic Fekkai, one of my faves, though I usually can only afford travel sized items to indulge in on vacation. Also, most drugstores carry a limited selection of salon brands nowadays, and many, like Rusk, Biolage, and Redken, have shampoos for your hair type. If you're still confused and overwhelmed, and this will sound stupid and materialistic but whatever, just pick a bottle you think conveys the kind of woman you are. Like, if a lover stepped into your shower and saw it, they'd be like "____" (fill in the blank with whatever you want them to be like).

Other answers to your question: department store eyeshadows, in my opinion, kick the ass of drug store ones as far as texture and pigment. Try out a new palette. Also, Dior Addict is your new bff. And if you wear foundation, get ye to a Makeup Forever counter forthwith!

I am, for Hairpin purposes, an older lady (in my 40s). Whenever I run into distant relatives/old acquaintances from high school, the reaction is always: "You look EXACTLY the same!"

I appreciate that this is meant as a compliment — I've always looked young for my age (even when that was not a good thing). But it's true in less fortunate respects, too. I have basically the same preppy/nerd style I've had since my later teens, and I've also had the same hairstyle (shoulder-length/layers/bangs) for most of that time. I have mostly the same kinds of clothes I had a couple of decades ago, and in some cases the same ACTUAL clothes. I am rarely required to look presentable:  I'm married (no kids) so I don't date, and I'm a freelancer who works from home most of the time. I live in the city and get around mostly on foot/bike/public transport, which complicates my occasional efforts at stylishness, as does the fact that I am only 5'2" tall, so I have a terrible time finding clothes that fit me. Is it too late?!

Too late for what? To go shopping? To try a new hairstyle? Never! Sure, change is scary and requires a lot of effort, but it's really the only thing that makes yesterday different from tomorrow, and unless you are already The Most Contented Woman on Earth, it's the only path to happiness. Go down the path and see what's there. And try to have fun; being "required to look presentable" shouldn't be the only reason to look presentable. Look presentable for the good feeling it gives you.

You remind me a lot of my bestie Lisa, except for one part: she's stylish. She's your age and short-ish like you and fun and young looking and a city dweller and busy, and yet somehow she manages to dress well and keep up with trends. How does Lisa do it?

Before we get to that, allow me to take a left turn and address something you mentioned in passing. I'm going to declare my stance on bikes: if the choice is between riding a bike and looking/smelling/tasting good, I always choose looking/smelling/tasting good. You can get a workout at the gym or dance class, but showing up to work/dates/a meeting all sweaty and in "sensible" bike-ridable clothes has just never been an option for me. Just say no to bikes! Haha, JK. But only sorta JK.

Alright, back to your conundrum, first, get a new hairstyle. There is no more immediate and dramatic way to update your style and it will inspire you to give the rest of your look an overhaul. Why not try highlights or grow out your bangs or go short? Bobs are very hip and ageless, too. Just pick something new, commit to it, and don't be afraid. Say it with me: "Hair! Grows! Back! (Usually?)"

Now pick a style inspiration or signature piece. You've done this before, when you chose "preppy/nerdy" all those years ago. For Lisa, and I'm putting words in her brain here, her "thing" is black boots. She has practically every kind of black boot and, most importantly, every winter she picks up a new pair of the latest, trendiest style. From there, her wardrobe is pretty simple: skinny jeans or a skirt with tights, some kind of feminine top with details, and a cardigan or blazer. Very hip! In the summer, it's black high-heeled sandals. What is a piece that you see on other people that you'd like to emulate? Is your thing oversized tunics? Maybe wrap dresses? Maybe you like embellishments like rhinestones or sequins, but done tastefully? Are you secretly longing to be The Red Shoe Lady? If nothing comes to mind, read the third question here where I discuss finding a style inspiration. All you need is a starting point, and you should be able to build a new look around it pretty easily by browsing The OutnetIn Style, or Lucky. I'm not kidding, they are pretty thorough in their coverage of All Possible Outfits.

Finally, do not dismiss the petites section. I know they're usually only found in stuffy, business-attire type shops, but if you want tailored items like that perfect pencil skirt or fitted blazer, petites sections exist solely to satisfy women like you.

Photo by Aleksey Patsyuk, via Shutterstock.

290 Comments / Post A Comment


pro-tip: uniqlo has a phone number in NY that you can call to order products from them, and then you pay $7-8 shipping. I live in California and I love uniqlo and they're super helpful when you call them.

Jane Marie

@Roxy@twitter thanks roxy! 1-877-486-4756


@Roxy@twitter Oooohhhhh thank you.


Has anyone tried this service? They claim to deliver Uniqlo to the hinterlands: http://www.suddenlee.com/


Can I just say I love you, Jane? That's not weird, right? Okay, cool.

Jane Marie

@Lillian it feels great :)


@Lillian Who doesn't love Jane? Her columns have made me so much more confident--I have a grown up face now. Jane! Thanks.

sarah girl

@Lillian Can I piggyback on this and say that Jane is awesome, but ALSO I was browsing OkCupid the other day and found a dude's profile where "Jane Feltes [sic]" was listed as one of his celebrity crushes?!?!?!! The rest of the profile was solidly meh so I didn't message him, but I definitely had an "omg WHAT" moment.


@Jane Marie Although you do drive me crazy with all the comments your posts generate, this 200 + stuff is outta control!
Being able to read everyone's comments and know that mine are actually being seen is one of the reasons I love this place!

I still totally read everything though. I just feel a little more guilty about doing it at work.


I can use those applicators too! Did for years to great effect until I got my first angle brush. Brushes are definitely better and easier. But in a pinch, I HAVE THE POWER.


I use the sponge applicators in eyeshadows when I need a heavy look, like dancing on stage (apply heavily with sponge, blend with fingers). Brushes are my weapon of choice for a softer, subtler, everyday look.

But those crappy "brushes" that come with Cover Girl blush? No thank you!


@Dancersize I think it was/is? easier for me because I have very "open" eyes. What I mean by this is that my browbone is not very defined, and when my eyes are open you cannot see my eyelid at all except for basically the lashline.

(Translation: Everybody always thinks I'm Asian or half-Asian, but I feel weird saying I have Asian eyes! Because I am not in any way Asian.)

Moving on! So what I'm saying is, I can go pretty heavy right around the lashline and it's not that intense looking. (I still prefer a brush, just cause it's easier/feels nicer.) Plus, due to how much my eyes crinkle up when I smile, half of it ends up coming off anyway.


@miwome I am an art major and use art brushes (not the same ones I paint with! Short stiff, white nylon ones are AWESOME for eyeliner and filling in your brows, while good quality horsehair are awesome for eyeshadow, blush and bronzer. I do also use my fingers a lot. I know you aren't supposed to, but I do.


@The Kendragon Ooh! Possibly a more affordable alternative! I muse.

And I do use the fingers too. It's like finger painting! I just don't seem to have as much subtle control with any implement as I do with my ring and middle fingers. SUE ME.


@The Kendragon The very first makeup brushes I bought were art brushes from Frank's! I think I read the tip in a magazine I was probably too young for. (In fact in retrospect I think I may have shoplifted them? Oops.)

Still have one I use for eyeshadow though. And recently got a fan brush from JoAnne Fabrics.

Sarah Fine@facebook

C'mon Jane. Truly bad bitches bike in heels.


@Sarah Fine@facebook Word! And you don't have to ride like a maniac! Figure out how fast you have to ride before you start sweating and then ride a hair slower than that. You're still getting in a tiny bit of exercise plus everyone will think you're adorable when you roll up on your bike. Except Jane I guess, sigh.


@Monkey I want to be that girl SO BAD but I have this stupid crippling fear of riding in traffic, combined with laziness. Like I'm sure if I just did it a couple times I would get over my hangups, but I use said hangups as an excuse to be lazy. Also I for real am scared of dying in Boston traffic.


@miwome No, traffic is legit terrifying at first but you do get used to it, promise! And Boston actually is totally beefing (beefing, ew, sorry) up its cycling infrastructure with protected bike lanes and such! Here, check out these awesome Boston bike ladies: http://bikinginheels-cycler.blogspot.com/ http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/


@Sarah Fine@facebook so true! biking in heels is just as easy as biking in flats, and people definitely think you are adorable AND also a badass. and i always like people to think my style is effortless, so the alternatives to getting around via bike make me feel high-maintenance. (also i have been photographed for style blogs a few times and it feels like it's always when i'm hopping off my bike.) jane's already been in LA too long.

@miwome are there any group cycling outings you can go on, or can you go out for a ride with a few friends? that's what helped me get over my initial fear of riding in traffic and now i ride my bike every day.


@suzabellajones I have mad friends who bike and also we have a shiny new bikeshare program! Maybe what I need to do is rent a bike and take it somewhere secluded to Remember How To Ride before doing it in front of people (it's been like five or six years), and then make my homies lead me through Cambridge.


@Sarah Fine@facebook And skirts! Not pencil skirts unless they're stretchy, but you can wear shorts while you bike and then change when you get there. But loose flowy skirts or a-lines are great for biking!

Heels are no problem! It is actually more fun than biking in flats/sneakers because you feel all fancy and ladylike.


Oh, it is ON, Jane, in re biking. Biking is great for fashion. It makes you make choices, good lean choices for what to wear and carry. I am also a grown up biking lady and it is the best. A few things:

Check out Copenhagen Cycle Chic for inspiration (see what I mean about the heels?).

Leave yourself plenty of time so you don't have to ride hard and get all sweaty. If you do get a little flush, hit the restroom before a meeting, etc., to blot your face, reapply your lipstick and shake out your helmet hair. If you carry your helmet, everyone you meet with will be all, aww, you rode here? You look so great, blah blah blah. If you lock it to your bike, they will never know you rode.

You don't have to wear biking gear except for helmet, sunglasses and biking gloves.

Get a step-through/mixte/girl's frame so you can wear a skirt. There is nothing cuter than a girl on a bike in a skirt. Nothing.

Yes, you absolutely can wear heels and boots to ride in. I like a boot with a mid-height heel; wedges are great and the rubberier soles are preferable.

Skinny pants and (stretchy) pencil skirts.

Get yourself a thin, lightweight, water resistant windbreaker, preferably one that nips in at the waist a little and has a hood (put the hood up under your helmet if it's cold. You can ride anywhere anytime as long as your hands and ears are covered). Buy it a little big so you can wear it over a suit jacket if necessary. Stuff it in your adorable messenger bag when you're not using it.

Sam Franklin

@Sarah Fine@facebook Yeah, and sweat is okay, too. But you know me, I'm into the kind of girl who puts the breathless freedom of riding a bike above the off chance that she might need to impress someone who doesn't like that kind of girl.


@laurel How do you do wedges? I find they make my bike feel too small for me - my knees come up too high!


@phlox Are your wedges platformy? I find platforms give me that grasshopper knees feeling, in which case I raise my seat a little (I have one of those quick release deelies so I can do it easily). I have totally ridden in platform wedges with four inch heels.

I'm also careful to only put the ball of my foot on the pedal. With that, It doesn't matter what height heel I'm wearing.


@laurel They've got about an inch on the front of the foot - I am so not a shoe person, I thought all wedges were like that? I don't even know. And my bike is a little small for me to start with and the seat is at the top already.


@phlox There is literally nothing, NOTHING, that makes me happier at the moment than seeing a pretty girl in a pretty dress on a pretty bike.

When I rode to work in the summers, I would find that if I changed my top and socks, I didn't smell at all. But I also don't mind body-smell (I prefer it to gross cheap perfume) as long as it's fresh. I mean, day-old sweat funk is not good, but smelling like a human person who has a body is no issue for me, while it definitely is for some people. So, that might be a dealbreaker for some.


@phlox Hee, yep, you've got platforms there. Wedges have the space between the heel and the ball of the foot filled in. A shoe can be both a platform and a wedge too.


@laurel Yeah, that is what mine look like, with about one inch in the front going up to three or so in the back. I really just need a bigger bike.


@phlox I will tell you what, the best thing I ever did was get myself a bike that actually fits my insanely long legs. I'm still secretly a little sad that it's a "boy's" bike but it fits and I'm happy riding it and I can totally ride it heels or wedges or whatever so YAY. In short, get a bigger bike :)


@Sam Franklin: there is something downright lyrical about your comment and I dig it the most.


@Craftastrophies A), excellent description of exactly how I feel about body smells. Everyone else: Fuck yes, biking. All summer I biked to work in skirts every day in Boston traffic, and my older, matronly coworker who shows off her biking habit for attention would act utterly appalled. After a while, it turned into open jealousy that she was always head-to-toe EMS. And as I told her, you don't have to look the part that hard as long as you've got a helmet. I love bikes for the midday workout/adrenaline rush that sometimes I really need in the mornings/before meetings/before meeting up with people.


@Monkey That is my plan for the spring! My current bike is a $100 beater and I am dreaming about this one.


@itiresias God, this is making me miss riding to work so much. I live much further away now, and I'd have to ride on scary industrial roads. But I hate organised exercising (I get bored) and the biking endorphins were the greatest. Best start to the day.

@phlox my bike is a hybrid, which means it's not good for roads OR off road. I dream about dutch bikes. Maybe if I get a new job that I can ride to?


@phlox AAHHHH SUPER-LOVE! You will be the most adorable on that in your platform wedges, maybe with a basket in front for a tiny dog?


@Monkey The problem for me, in addition to a crippling fear of riding in traffic, is that I start sweating when I look at the bike. If I actually biked all 5 miles to work, I'd have to shower and start over.

This is likely due to the fact that I have a crappy single-speed bike with chronically flat tires, but also the BUSES oh god no.

Tragically Ludicrous

@Sarah Fine@facebook Dutch people are so good at that! They just ride off in whatever they happen to be wearing, no matter what it is and/or how old they are. I've seen Dutch girls in stilettos and cocktail dresses out on their bikes. It's just what you do. (Also there are separate bike lanes and traffic knows there are bicycles around which makes a huge difference.)


@phlox Get it, girl! I splurged on a Linus when I got my first grown-up job, and it is a Dream Bike.


@Sarah Fine@facebook As you get used to biking regularly and build up some more strength, you will definitely sweat A LOT less. I think spring/fall are good times to start (obviously much less sweat than in crippling summer heat).

I am another recent biking convert. I got over The Fear by riding with more experienced cyclist friends for a while, then doing test rides to my office in the evening, when traffic was much lighter. Now I am clinging to my last few cycling days...not sure I am hardcore enough for winter cycling.


@miwome Biking in Boston is totally not that bad. I bike everywhere. My friends and I actually have a little unofficial bike gang and we go on longish rides around town in warmer months... usually followed by pints. Join us! bostonbicyclebelles.tumblr.com. And also, hell yes to biking in heels and skirts. I love my Dutch-style upright to pieces, and I bike regularly in dresses, boots, heels, etc. There is no reason to wear fancy REI biking gear. Wool coats are the best: super breathable and warm. If you can walk briskly in it without sweating, you can bike in it.


@Sarah Fine@facebook yes, yes, yes. i am not a hard-core bike everywhere cyclist - but I bike in all the same clothes and shoes i would wear almost anywhere else. And are you joking - biking to the bar - it is the best way to pick up all the babes standing outside smoking. Then you are dating a smoker, but whatev.

If I am going somewhere where I need to smell like a peach, which is everywhere except the gym, I give myself plenty of time to take a more leisurely ride and keep a second makeup bag in my bike "purse" that has a travel deodorant, my fav roll-on perfume and some baby wipes. I rarely need to use it, but just in case I dash in the bathroom and freshen up there. I am convinced that the wind in my hair from the ride, usually make it look better, or at least bigger. Which, is essentially the same to me.

Katie Wilson@facebook

@Sarah Fine@facebook agree with all above - I'm one of those annoying cycle-everywhere people, and so is my man-friend. However, show a little love please: I live in LA. WE LIKE BIKES HERE TOO, GUYS. It's not too hilly and the weather is fiiiiiine.

The Lady of Shalott

I wash my makeup brushes with a little tiny bit of shampoo in my palm and it gives me much delight to see all the gunk and wildly-coloured dirt running out of them. I make my own fun.


@The Lady of Shalott -Lisa Eldridge, who does my second favorite makeup tutorials (Jane is #1, obviously), does this too. She uses a cheap 2-in-one shampoo/conditioner. She also does this every day, which, no.


@The Lady of Shalott "I make my own fun." Is my new motto. Not to worry, I'll follow it with "says the Lady of Shalott."

@sox Tennyson knew it.


I'm the cheapest cheapskate to ever cheap out, but drug store eyeshadow is like chalk and not worth the $3. A few weeks I ran out of a color in one of my Smashbox trios and needed something to get me by so I bought some Covergirl that was almost the exact same color. Buh. Never again. It has almost no pigment going on, and so it took a TON to get the same effect that I would get from a single sweep of my Smashbox.

High end eye shadow is WORTH EVERY PENNY.

Also, I completely concur on the bike thing, Jane. I live in Texas where it is boiling-sun hot for nine months out of the year so bike riders are literallysmelly hippies down here.

oh, disaster

@RosemaryF Seconding you on the eyeshadow. The cheapie stuff always ends up all over my eyelashes and cheeks and ahhh, aggravating.


@RosemaryF @andrea disaster Every now and then I will still buy some cheap Maybelline eyeshadow, but yes. The more expensive stuff just gives you more bang for your buck. Less scraping on layer after layer.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Polina OH JEBUS I think you ladies just changed my life.
I mean, L'Oreal isn't the cheapest shit out there, but... yeah, I have major eyeshadow problems.


@Rookie Yeah, even the "drugstore" stuff isn't so cheap. But I'd say some of the more expensive brands are really worth the dough, and it's easier to use less.


@RosemaryF. I biked to work all summer in Austin and I wasn't smelly. If you don't shower, ever, you'll be smelly after a bike ride. But a quick spritz with Rocket Shower and a change of clothes at work on a generally clean person takes care of potential smelliness all day.


@meaux Admittedly I have a lot at home for medical reasons, but an individually wrapped alcohol wipe, swiped over the pits will solve any odor issues handily!
They're worth having around for all sorts of reasons.


@RosemaryF granted, i take pretty leisurely rides on flat roads, and I rarely do it when it during the summer - but I bike in Dallas in heels, with perfume and carry extra smell nice things and no one, and I mean, no one has ever mistaken me for a hippie. (#vain) with some advanced planning, it is totally possible!


I too have a wide range of brands of brushes, and aside from the "fancy" ones, I really like the Sonia Kashuk ones from Targét. Not the sets though, those are chintzy. The ones you buy individually. I've had some of them for at least five years, and just this week one of them started to shed.

Also, I recently fell in love with Fekkai shampoo by accident.

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

@punkahontas ooh seconded on the Sonia Kashuk brushes AND accidentally falling in love with overpriced shampoo that SMELLS SO DELICIOUS.


@Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse That smell is what made my husband tell me I should keep buying it even though it's expensive! Twist my arm.... haha.

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

@punkahontas it just smells....luxurious. and expensive. it made me feel like a Fancy Lady.


@punkahontas ooh brushes! and makeups!

i haven't tried the sonia ones, but i've got a bunch from eco-tools and i love them. and they are so cheap. i actually like them better than all the other higher end brushes i have! get the eye set and the five piece set and you are set for less than $20 for everything. only other brushes you will need are a slanted eyeliner brush and maybe a foundation brush (the one from makeup geek is vurrry nice but sadly out of stock).

also, can i also just say that i really wish i had NOT splashed out on expensive eye shadow at the beginning of my makeup bender, when i was getting into playing with different looks -- it means i have some really good quality shadow that i almost never use lying around. wasteful!

eventually i bought a cheapy palette to play around with and it would have sufficed for some of the stuff i wanted to try. ah well, live and learn. this shany palette is like $12 and it's not as awesome as the best eyeshadows i've ever used, but it is much better than drugstore level. use a primer (the $1 one from elf is ace) and it works great.

elf is good for some things, but their eyeshadows are like pale colored sand. stay far away, traveler.

so much to say about makeup! ARG!


Makeup Forever HD Foundation changed my life. I'm not even kidding. Thank you, Jane.


@thundertheft I am apparently the only lady on the planet for whom MUF HD Foundation sucks. I am obsessed with their other products (I never leave the house without their UV primer on). It just sticks to my peach fuzz and looks weird. And I don't have that problem with any other liquid foundation. I wanted so much to love that stuff :/


@Polina I am the other lady. It doesn't come in a color that matches my skin. None of them match!

:Cinnamon Girl:

@Polina You are not alone. I was NOT a fan of the MUF HD. It didn't provide the coverage I wanted where I needed it (zits) and seemed to cling to everything else (peach fuzz, caking on top of clear skin, etc) creating this look that screams "I AM WEARING FOUNDATION."

Anyone find anything they like better??


@Polina I wasn't crazy about it either, it didn't provide enough coverage for me yet I always looked like I had foundation on (I want the coverage without looking like I'm wearing makeup, I'm impossible). I love the concealer though!

:Cinnamon Girl:

@likethestore JINX!!

And I'm impossible too! I want a foundation that you can't see but that isn't see through, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!


@.Lauren. Buy me a Coke!! I'm using Studio Fix Fluid from MAC right now. I quite like it but it's still not perfect. I find using a foundation brush instead of a sponge really helps though. I want to try other brands but jfc, foundation is really expensive.

:Cinnamon Girl:

@likethestore Yeah, thank god for Sephora's liberal return policy. They are supporting my foundation ADD.

Hmmmm wonder if there are any other return policies I should be taking advantage of...


@likethestore i hear you on that -- i bought a bottle of laura mercier, but now that i get it home, i do not love the finish, even with my foundation brush. boots tinted moisturizer with the foundation brush works pretty well, though -- evens things out a bit but doesn't feel or look like "foundation."


@everyone Okay, glad I wasn't the only one! It really must just work well with certain skin (and amount of peach fuzz) types. I was just shocked at how obvious it was, when that was sort of the selling point!

ample pie

@thundertheft: Studio Fix Fluid is pretty good but sometimes I think it oxidizes on my skin and turns a bit orange (oh, but the matte finish it gives is to die for).

I hear really good things about MAC's new foundation Matchmaster. Also for everyday use I am a big fan of Bobbi Brown's stick foundation.


@thundertheft Clinique Perfectly Real is really doing the trick for me, but I don't get a ton of really red zits and I like really light coverage - it's kind of just a few steps above tinted moisturizer. You might want to try their Superbalanced makeup, which has slightly heavier coverage. I find Clinique to be really forgiving when it comes to peach fuzz and really good for combination skin.


@ample pie I've never used Bobbi Brown stuff before but I really want to try it because Kate Middleton does (guess who's a little bit obsessed with the royals?).


@thundertheft I have felt the same for the HD, like the nice lady at Sephora gave me a generous sample and the first time I applied it I was like WHOA THAT IS MY SKIN. But I've had a couple instances where it felt like it would easily rub off on, say my sleeve if I touched my face just so, or worse, A Dude's shirt if I ever had the chance to get so close to A Dude.

Any tips? Aside from topping with powder, that might be one step more of Being A Girl than I can do...


@likethestore I absolutely love my Bobbi Brown foundation (I don't think it's obvious at all) so I'd give it a go if I were you :)

:Cinnamon Girl:

@timesnewroman What kind do you use??? I love my Bobbi Brown pot rouge, so I'd be interested in trying their foundation.

I used to use Bare Minerals and I like the barely there look, but the coverage isn't that great. Does anyone know of powder foundations that they enjoy??


@.Lauren. I've been using Silk Naturals (http://host.silknaturals.com) for several years now. At first I was put off by the idea of mixing my own powder foundation, and the website/packaging ain't fancy, but it is so good and so cheap. It takes some experimenting to get the right color, but again, super cheap so it's not a big investment. It's also really easy to darken or lighten the foundation as your skin changes throughout the year. Shipping is fast and reasonably priced, the ingredients are very skin-and-earth friendly. Plus the lip glosses are fabulous, and the blushes are gorgeous... and did I mention it's cheapcheapcheap?


LW3, are you my future self? I know you can't say anything, cos, like, it'll destroy the time/space continuum or something. But you have to admit, posting a question on my favourite ladyblog where I could see it is so us. I'm glad you're living our dream of freelance city-living and looking exactly the same. High five, future self.


@rayray Younger self, it will soon be time to stop using our fingers to apply our make-up. Don't worry too much though, cos in the future you just look at a computer screen of the face you want and the make-up materialises onto you. We can't believe it.


@rayray But older self, how did we learn to ride a bike without dying? Remember that accident we had? We swore we'd never cycle again! Wait, come back! I have so many questions about the future!

Caitlin Podiak

@rayray I had almost exactly these thoughts in response to LW3. Except I do sometimes use brushes to apply my makeup, when I wear makeup, which is almost never, and I stopped riding a bike (because I'm scared of traffic/dying/helmets) before ever having had an accident.


Re: the chick upgrading to nicer products. First, kudos. I too have been doing that and it's been going well so far. Except, I bought some fancy shmancy Shu Uemura compact powder and it's HORRIBLE. So so chalky and dense and my poor old Maybelliene stuff is just so much better.

Can I try a different brush or sponge or something?

Carrot Cake

@lafleur I like to use a kabuki brush to apply my compact powder. It might make the powder go on a bit less dense that way.

Otherwise, I'd stick with the Maybelliene if it makes you happy.

Lily Rowan

OK, this is kind of a weird question, related to that last lady's question. I look young, too, but I swear my hair and clothes are for grownups, and I can act like a Seasoned Professional (which I am) at work, and people are STILL stunned at my age. I think it means they don't take me seriously. So what then??


@Lily Rowan I hate that. I got carded at an R movie the other day. R U SRS CARD-MAN?


@Lily Rowan I have no advice for you, because I got told a few weeks ago that I did not look old enough to vote WHILE I was voting :/

Lily Rowan

What is the answer?? More makeup?? I currently wear foundation and blush.

I can usually shame people out of carding me by looking them straight in the face, but I am 37 years old, ffs.


@Lily Rowan How are your eyebrows? I feel like a nicely groomed, defined brow says a lot for maturity. "Natural" brows are just a little less sophisticated.

Also, mascara and maybe a little smudge of eyeliner?

I had a similar problem at one of my old jobs and blamed it on my long hair, which I cut off, and then regretted. At least you can wash off your makeup.

Lily Rowan

@punkahontas Today my eyebrows are fantastic, if I do say so myself. Thanks to the lady at the nail place who I saw on Saturday. I don't know if eye makeup would help, but mayyybeeee. I think sadly it's really more about my presentation and I should be less ridiculous, but whatever.


@Lily Rowan At least eye makeup is low commitment! Glad you've got good brows going, they really make such a difference.

It's hard to judge on the rest of the stuff, but good luck!

Lily Rowan

@punkahontas Thanks! And, whatever -- I looked like a grownup starting at like 13, and I guess in 10 years I'll be glad to look young?

Caitlin Podiak

@Lily Rowan The night before last, Reese Witherspoon sat next to me at a bar and teased my best friend and me for looking underage. We told her we are actually 26 and 27 and she was like, oh, well you're both so petite and we were like, oh, well you're so petite, too, Reese Witherspoon! So sometimes looking eternally childlike pays off in terms of fun celebrity interactions, is all I'm saying.

acid burn

@Lily Rowan Ugh, I don't know what the answer is but this drives me insane. I'm 26 and I have lost count of times I've been mistaken for a high school (or JUNIOR HIGH) student. Whenever I complain about it people tell me I should appreciate it, but being mistaken for a 13 year old is not a compliment.

But I groom myself! I wear skirts and cardigans and shoes that aren't sneakers and I have medium length hair and I wear eye makeup! What is the deal, for real. Maybe somebody should ask Jane? Jane knows everything.

Lily Rowan

@Caitlin Podiak Ooh, good story! I would like to hang out with Reese Witherspoon.


@Lily Rowan I have the same problem, and more eye makeup is DEFINITELY the answer for me. I start with light brown shadow over my whole eyelid, with a darker shadow blended in my crease (I like a deep rose). Then, I smudge a soft line of dark brown shadow along the outer edges of each eyelid, and finish off with black eyeliner and mascara. A slight (SLIGHT!) cat eye effect with the liner only helps matters.


@Lily Rowan I had this same problem forever. I'm tall and fairly curvy and have a deep voice, AND I wear makeup and dress in a relatively adult style, so I guess it's just my face.

A couple years ago at age 43 I did a possibly crazy thing to end it; I had a job at the time that required an hour commute each way facing straight into the sun. So I stopped wearing sunglasses while driving. I achieved my objective - I got some cute crow's feet happening AND I haven't been mistaken for a fetus since.

Not that I'm recommending anyone else do this - I'll probably end up with cancer of the forehead crinkle or something - I'm just saying, being addressed as a child or teenager is MADDENING.

Lily Rowan

@elizabee I kind of love that. And those corner-of-the eye crinkles are the best!

sarah girl

@Lily Rowan Ugh, I ran out to lunch without makeup on last Saturday - pulled out my keys in a parking garage, and a guy walking by exclaimed that he was surprised I was old enough to drive!

I'm 27.



@elizabee How did you see to drive? I would die of blindness. When I'm driving into the sun and it's really bad I literally put on two pairs of sunglasses at one time.


I picked up a whole bunch of the Heattech Uniqlo undergear whilst visiting China last year and it is incredible stuff! I refer to it as my 'secret heat' layer. Super thin, dries/wicks quickly and it certainly keeps you toasty. Point of reference: last winter I lived in Saskatoon where it was -50 C most to all of the time.



Let me be the one to bring the Good Word to you, dear Pinner. One the Seventh Day, God got too lazy to apply makeup with some shitty-ass sponge, so God created the Lancôme Foundation Brush #2 so that God's face would be radiant and even toned and blemish free, and God looked up The Visage in a mirror and saw that it was Good.

This brush will last you for the rest of your life, it will extend the life of your expensive foundation by months because you only have to use half of what you normally do so you save money in the long run, and it will make your moderate acne disappear into a soft porcelain skin. It's no Deciding To Drink More Water but it's really really close.

@Diana And it was Good.


@Diana i have this one from makeup geek and i LOVE it. LOVE. i put the tinted moisturizer on my face with my fingers in dots, and just stipple it on. it's so nice!

anyhow i can never picture how the lancome kind works!? like, how do you do it? edumacate me!

oh, disaster

It's okay, LW3, I upgraded my shampoo this summer after crashing at several friend's apartments and realizing that if they saw I was still using the same stuff since college, I'd be embarrassed.


So, I recently bought a nice Laura Mercier "flawless face" (gross) kit that contains some nice brushes. But I find it easier to just use my fingers! Is this a horrible mistake? Also, there's this sponge device for putting on the "tinted moisturizer" and it looks so dirty and unwashable now. Ugh.

Basically: why not fingers? What is eyeshadow "for," and/or how do I know when it's appropriate?

Jane Marie

@dham fingers are fine for foundation and creme blush, but unless you're talking creme eyeshadow, i think it's really hard to get enough powder shadow to go in the right places using just your fingers. here's a video about eyeshadow!


Great advice on cleaning your brushes! I honestly think most people forget to do this. Lately I've gotten into a good brush cleaning habit once a week after I'm done with applying. It has really helped my skin. And don't worry ladies, I don't say that in a "See, this is why you people have acne!" way. I still have acne. But it has improved since I started taking better care of my super dense powder brush especially, which I would imagine hides all sorts of germy business. My BF bought me a nice Sephora brush set a few years back, but at this point I've also mixed in some cheaper Target stuff as well.


@Polina One of my favorite eyeshadow brushes is a Sonya Kashuk (I think) one from Target


Oh man, it's so important to clean your brushes. When I first went to see a dermatologist to complain about intermittent acne (I'm 30! I shouldn't have fine lines--which is the term I use when I can't quite admit to having wrinkles yet--and acne at the same time), her first recommendation was to be hyper-vigilant about keeping brushes clean. I started washing all my brushes once a week (and the brushes I use wet/damp, like eyeliner and concealer, every day), as well as using washcloths only once before laundering them, and my skin cleared right the hell up. Now it kind of makes me gag to think about putting a dirty brush on my face.

Also, agreed with you both that I like a good mix of Sephora and Sonia Kashuk brushes. The nicer ones are nice and all, but I just can't justify spending $30 when a $10 brush will do almost as good a job.


@silly*goose Crap. I only launder my washcloth once a week. I had no idea I was dirting myself up! Thanks for passing that along!


Bacteria! Growing on your washcloth! Now in your pores!

#TheMoreYouKnow #HeartUBleachie


hey Alaska girl! that coat Jane linked to is nice and all, but unless you live in Southeast (where you'll need a rain coat more often then a down coat) get thee a Canada Goose ankle length down coat. Swathe yourself in down. Then you don't need to worry about all those crazy layers. Offset the bulkiness of the down (and also, get some serious boots, like Baffin boots, because they are so toasty warm) with softer touches, like a brightly colored silk scarf knotted around your neck, and a cute wool beanie, and maybe some really fun mittens.

OR! Get one of these: http://www.skhoop.us/ If you don't feel like dropping a ton of money on a long down coat, you can buy one of these insulated skirts for $100 and keep your cute Alaskan hiney warm. I generally rock the Skhoop with my boots and a down coat most days, and it keeps me so warm, even on long windy walks with my kiddo.


@heyits For boots, get some Sorels! They have the fuzzy stuff inside like Uggs that keep your feet so warm but are actually well-made footwear that has support and grippy soles and all that good stuff.


@phlox Sorels are great too! I guess it depends on where this LW lives in Alaska, because when it's -40*, Sorels don't cut it. But they're fine for the more temperate regions, like Southcentral. They have some really cute styles this year, too.


@heyits Yeah, I lived in -40* (Alberta Rockies) and they were just fine - almost too hot, sometimes.


@heyits i want an insulated skirt!

cold lady: american apparel makes a light windbreaker out of tyvek (like house wrap) that i like to call my emergency warm layer. it's super warm and thin so it wouldn't make you feel all poofy. i just leave it in my bag, size of a pair of socks rolled up, in case i need it. plus it looks kind of cool layered with a soft sweater and a wool coat.


@phlox as with all recommendations in life, boots or otherwise, YMMV. I have worn Sorels in the past to go snowshoeing when it was quite cold out and my feet were little popsicles by the end of the hike. With my Baffins, I don't have the problem. So, it just depends on the foot/person/circulation. I suspect for me the fact that the Sorels were a little narrower meant my feet weren't getting as much circulation. Also, why haven't we mentioned bunny boots yet? Bunny boots are great! They make your feet look enormous but they're ridiculously warm.


@heyits Mine were a little big, so I got lots of circulation and friction when I walked.

What are bunny boots? I am imagining those stupid fake fur boots with the pom-poms but with ears sticking out the top instead.


@phlox Gag. No, definitely not fake fur boots. Gross. Bunny boots were developed by the military to withstand seriously extreme winter temperatures, like -65*F. They are made from rubber, and have a layer of rubber, then air, then wool, then more air, then the actual boot. They aren't lined but they keep your feet so toasty. The trick is to have your feet be warm already when you put them on. Also, they have to be loose-fitting.

I could go on about this all day. I'm a gear nerd. http://www.bunnyboots.com/

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@phlox Sorels are great! I got a pair last year and love them.
I have a Kanuk coat, which doesn't have the same urban cool or whatever as a Canada Goose, but maybe costs a little less? I love it. It keeps me warm during the cold-ass temperatures and I can wear whatever I want under it in regular winter temperatures (sleeveless dress and a 3/4 sleeve sweater, what what)


@heyits I live in Chicago, did you hear about our snowpocalypse? it gets WAY crazy here in the winter. I invested (i love how people, myself included, use this as an excuse to pay lots of money for something...but hey...it's ALMOST like investing, right?) in a long Patagonia down coat, which doesn't make you look THAT much like the kid from a christmas story, along with a pair of la canadienne snow boots and was totally never cold except for my hands and ears! :) slash :/


@depaysee Uh, in Chicago it's totally an investment. My second winter I bought a wicked stylish wool coat with a giant hood and a hem to my knees, and leather boots that nearly reach the bottom of the coat. Add wool socks or double tights and I'm good to go.


@heyits I like to save a few bucks on heating/gear and just freeze. A few brisk morning walks in just my wool sweater and I'm set for the season.

Terror of the 416

Aw HELL NO. I can't believe Jane is hating on the city bikers. I'm a little too miffed to even really break down what is/isn't good cycling style, so I'll come back to the cold girl and say:

- a great pair of Sorel boots never did anyone any harm, and trust me, I've hiked in a miniskirt and those bad boys and stayed toasty. Wear 'em with wool workman socks, tights, and skirts and it looks way cute; trade in flats (no wool socks!) for the office and you're fine.

- double up on the tights: it adds warmth without bulk and you can do some weird layering effects that are kind of funky or totally unnoticeable depending on how you do it.

- make sure your skirts are lined, or wear a slip. For pants, I dunno. I don't wear pants in the winter.

- Get the following: a cute warm hat, a great pair of sunglasses, mittens/gloves, fingerless gloves (those can be layered over the mittens/gloves if it's really cold or you get cold hands), several pair of wool socks, some opaque tights, and big, wide scarf.

- for going in and out of places, wear a paper-thin tank top or camisole under your civvies, keep a hoodie as the liner of your coat, and don't wear puffers - there are so many hot winter coats out there that you don't have to wear Patagonia and feel like an ass.

Love, the Canadian girl who will occasionally wear upwards of thirty articles of clothing in February.


@Terror of the 416 "I don't wear pants in the winter."

I'm too wonderstruck by this sentence to even begin to ask how.

Terror of the 416

@miwome The business with the miniskirts and the high boots and the double-tights keeps things warmer than you'd think. Plus, pants waistbands digging into my Christmas belly? No.


@miwome Yeah, skirts can be way warmer. Long coat, two pairs of tights (or one wool or fleece pair), Sorels, long underwear or thigh-high socks (to be removed when you reach your destination) and you're set.

If you wear the too many layers under pants, you have to take off your normal pants to remove them so you don't overheat inside or look stupid. It is much easier in skirts!

tea tray in the sky.

@Terror of the 416 Does 416 refer to the highway?! I drive on that highway! Canada!

:Cinnamon Girl:

@Terror of the 416 Or you could all just move to California.... But bring jobs with you! (This makes me cold just reading all your directions, but I support you bad ass chicks anyway!)


@Terror of the 416 Can we just talk about how its been -38 for a week and I broke down and wore pants for the first time. I hate wearing pants. always. I am however wearing 15 articles of clothing. guuuuuuuuuuuuuh I'm jealous of your skill of getting out of wearing pants.

ample pie

@Terror of the 416: When it got to subzero temperatures when I lived in the Great Plains, I would wear a pair of nylons under my pants. If they are thin (not tights), it doesn't feel bulky, and keeps you warm. And free of the dreaded cold-jeans effect when you go outside and then sit down in your car.

Also for camisoles, slips and the like: buy real silk, it keeps you incredibly warm and is very light so it layers easily.

I now live in the tropics and use these stories to horrify the sort of people who gush over how they just looooove the winter (because their idea of cold is 60F).

Hot mayonnaise

@ample pie: I'm a dude and I have a set of silk long underwear that is so thin you can see through it (like nylons) and so WARMMMM.

Terror of the 416

@Twinkle Little Bat Toronto's area code. I'm like Godzilla in this place.

tea tray in the sky.

@Terror of the 416 Ah. Well, I take the 416 to get to Toronto, so. 416 to the 416!

The Widow Muspratt

Synthetic fiber make-up brushes!
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics makes great ones (but they're a little pricey)
For cheaper options try Everyday Cosmetics or Eco Tools.


Lady #3 sounds like me + 10-15 years (and a desk job with a low-key dress code). This is super helpful, since I too am secretly longing to be stylish. Except I also want to get a bike (though I live in pretty ideal biking weather, so maybe possibly I can swing both goals at once).


@arrr starr You totally can do both! Getting a gorgeous bike actually made me up my game on the fashion front. You can google image search "bicycle fashion" and get plenty of inspiration. (Also the "ridesabike" tumblr for vintage looks.) Skinny pants with boots or heels is an easy place to start.


@suzabellajones oh, awesome! a friend has actually offered me her old bike if it fits me, so that may not help with the style much, but a lot of the pictures I'm finding fit in with my idea of what's comfortable and wearable but a lot more put together than my usual look.


Once I had a customer in my business and with his teenage daughter. She said she'd be in the drugstore a few doors down. She came back later asking if she could buy some makeup. He gave her $20 and commented to me that he didn't understand why makeup was so expensive and that at least it wasn't the department store brands she was buying at that moment.

I took that opportunity to impart some knowledge (appealing to the logical side of his brain) by explaining that since they more expensive brands use better/more/darker pigments in their cosmetics, they do cost more but last a lot longer thereby making cost-per-use less.

I compared it to house paint--cheap brand, use a lot more paint to get the same coverage. Buy a pricier but better brand, use a lot less and it requires less work. It's all in the pigments and quality ingredients. He looked rather impressed and said "wow, I never thought of that!".

I'd like to think that because of me, there is one less straight man out there cursing about the "high maintenance" of women's makeup choices.



My mom doesn't wear makeup but she once had this flash of realization that I, her precious daughter, only gets one skin in this lifetime, and that skin is a functioning organ covering her whole body and should be treated with respect and not slathered with asbestos and plutonium garbage from Cover Girl. My skin does a lot for me and in return I try to take care of it.

:Cinnamon Girl:

@Diana So does this mean you don't wear makeup??? Color me impressed.



I'm trying to cut down on my makeup, restricting it to a few days a week or special occasions. I also started investing in high quality makeup which I could now do, since I wasn't using so much to begin with. The main thing was getting good foundation from Makeup Forever and then combining that with a foundation brush (see above) to stretch it out.


re: makeup brushes, I have a bunch of MAC and Bobbi Brown ones I love but seriously? never underestimate how well your fingers work. JUST SAYING.

Cat named Virtute

OH MAN, I was JUST sitting in class today thinking about how I needed to ask question number 2 (THANKS, Canada) because as soon as the temperature dips below freezing I turn from a stylish lady in dresses and cute shoes to a shlub in jeans, cardigans, and scarves. Anyone have good ideas on layering to be warm inside too? I'm so tired of giant sweaters from November to April.


@Marika Pea@twitter Layer under a normal shirt or dress with Jockey camisoles, available cheap in the long underwear section at C21 and other fine discount stores/dept store sales near you. They add warmth without bulk, tuck into tights or jeans, stretch nicely over a chest if you happen to have one.

Two-Headed Girl

@Marika Pea@twitter Wool tights! I live in Alberta, they help massively when you're outdoors and don't get too hot inside. Doubling up on tights, too, or layering tights under leggings. (I don't really own pants. I am very familar with this concept.)

Also, finding warm dresses/skirts is usually pretty easy at places like H&M and Aritizia. I promise, you don't have to look like a slob.


@Two-Headed Girl I do not live somewhere with below zero temps. However, do not underestimate the difference that the fibre your clothing is made out of makes. Wool or silk, etc means you can wear a thin undergarment and get bigger benefit than an acrylic coat. And make air pockets - that's what keeps you warm. So, doubling up on tights, but not having skin tight stuff, etc. I tend to find that if my core is warm, I don't mind colder extremities as much. So I wear lots of super warm camis and/or long sleeved under tops.

Cat named Virtute

@hedgehog Oh this is perfect, thanks! I am, in fact, a busty lady, so stretchy-chest underthings are good. @Two-Headed Girl I used to do that double-tights things with patterned tights over opaque, but of course it would work for warmth with regular tights! And I finally live in a city with an H&M, so I can be warm and stylish on a grad student budget. Thanks, all!


Is Pantene really that bad?? I thought it made your hair all flippy and shiny like in the commercials... and I just bought a big bottle of the volumizing kind :-(


@cuminafterall I don't think it's the end of the world bad (have used same one, wasn't amazing but wasn't terrible) but I am given colossal pause by that color-stripping story! I knew that about Prell, but I thought it was just Prell. I have Nature's Gate hippie sulfate-free shampoo, but have been using Aveeno conditioner because the NG conditioner doesn't work and the Aveeno does. Now I don't know. I will say I am right out of love with Fekkai though. It flattens my fine hair like crazy. This whole drugstore phase I'm in is basically a rebellion against Fekkai.

one cow.

@cuminafterall I remember hearing/reading that one of the ingredients is some sort of wax they use to make cars shiny, which it does to your hair, but in the process it coats it in wax. My mom still buys White Rain for 88 cents a bottle, though (which we used all growing up). I can't even wash my hair when I visit them if I haven't brought my own stuff D:


@one cow. @cuminafterall That wax stuff is absolutely legit. My mom is a hairstylist and she and all of her friends (one was her teacher at school) have confirmed this. They actually say the very best non-salon line of styling products is Suave. It's cheap (cheaper than Pantene, I think), smells good, and works just the same. I love their volumizing spray and their dry shampoos.

She is Me

@ one cow, meganmaria et al: Lordy, so topical -- I just had this VERY conversation with my new hairstylist, who I love, after many hairstylist mismatches... we were chatting about hair products (my distaste for same, mainly) and the differences between the cheapies and the salon products, yada yada; I told her how I always use Pantene conditioner and my hair looks great (it does!)and she agreed, but said "let me show you something" and she took a small section of my medium length hair and GENTLY dragged her scissors down the cuticle, perpendicularly, and showed me this GREY-BLACK CRUD that came off along the blade!!!! Off my freshly salon-washed hair!! It was so fucking gross! I said "Ack! What do I do?!? Get it off get-it-off!" and she kindly gave me a small sample bottle of the special shampoo that salons use to strip this gunk, and said to use it til it's gone and turf the Pantene. She says Thermasilk is the worst for the waxes, closely followed by Pantene and Garnier Fructis. She said if I don't want to invest in salon products (a testament to her integrity, as she could have sold me anything in the shop at that point) then to use Dove or St Ives, which don't have the waxy shit in them. Sorry for the long post, but jeezuz, count me among the converted!


@cuminafterall I use the Pantene Naturefusion. Not sure about the wax in it, but it's the only thing ONLY THING I've found that controls my frizzy curls. Meh. If I ever can afford to start coloring it, I'll upgrade to a better shampoo. But till then...Naturefusion. PS, I get compliments on my hair alllll the time :) Just sayin.

Blousey Brown

@hedgehog "I am given colossal pause." <3

Cory #2

@hedgehog Yes, Prell! That stuff will eat through color like nothing else, especially when you need to go from poorly thought out Manic Panic to something decently professional and bleach does nothing but take the fire engine red to an alarming shade of atomic pink. (Yay, chemistry! On my head! Inches from my brain and eyes!)


I've just switched all my hair stuff to Paul Mitchell (I live near one of their beauty schools and with a student-rate 12 dollar haircut, I could afford a new suite of hair stuff) and my hair has never been so soft and shiny. People literally stare, and one guy next to me in line at a Trader Joe's said it looked like I had an aura.


@Myrtle -Which PM products?!? I want an aura!


@curryspice @Myrtle I cannot live without Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. It changed my life!


@Myrtle Do you have a naturally overly oily scalp? What I mean is, do the PM products make your hair too oily with all the shine?

Cory #2

@Myrtle My hair stylist boyfriend works in a salon which carries mostly Paul Mitchell products, so he's used pretty much all of it (and as a result of him working there, I have as well) and the Super Skinny is really their only product that he absolutely likes.

The Thicken Up is also good, but I feel slightly weird about first using that and then using the Super Skinny.


for the last lady: the paparazzi are your friend in terms of building your look. I too am 5'2" and i like looking at photos of drew barrymore and salma hayek, basically short ladies who aren't stick thin, for inspiration for what looks good on our bodies.

my current thing is the full skirt. you wouldn't think it would work but it does.


Alaska! I just saw fleece-lined tights at Bloomingdale's last week. I think they were like $25 but I can't find them online.

Also, Uniqlo of course, like Jane said. I think they even make HEATTECH tights, and they definitely make long underwear, which I have. It's not thermal-looking, it's thin and silky, like Cuddle Duds (Which is the best name ever for long underwear. You should get some of those too if you haven't already.)

Lily Rowan

@punkahontas Also, I got some fleece-lined tights at Target last year, and they are the bizz-omb.

apples and oranges

@punkahontas Cuddle Duds would be such a good band name


@Lily Rowan Ooh! I have a $25 Target "apology" gift card from when they didn't send me my Missoni stuff. I'll have to look for them.

@kayarr It would be a band of old men in matching sweatsuits with at least one accordion.


@punkahontas WHAT?! I need you to buy some and tell me if they would fit some 5'10 size 12 girl with thighs that mean business.

Lily Rowan

@Janeyvonslainy I'm going to give a big fat maybe on the Target ones -- I'm 5'9", size 12, and they pretty much fit, but I don't know that there's an extra inch in length in there.


@Lily Rowan do you think they'd stay up if I put hotpants over them?

Lily Rowan

@Janeyvonslainy So, I was going to make some comment about how they are only $X, so even if they don't work it's not the biggest deal, but a quick search of Target.com makes it seem like they don't exist there anymore! Sorry....

acid burn

@Lily Rowan Oh mah gah I read this thread earlier and then I went to the grocery store and LIKE MAGIC there was a giant bin of various hosiery on sale so I got some fleece lined tights for ten bucks and I'm wearing them right now and I love them so much already. Google is failing me but they're Legale brand and I'm thinking that either they run a little small or I've gained 20 pounds in the last week because the size that should fit me no problem is pretty darn snug. But still very comfortable.

Faintly Macabre

@Lily Rowan I got Ann Klein fleece-lined tights at TJMaxx for $7 or $8. They're super-soft, but for bigger readers, they are not at all onesize. I'm 5'10" and a bit pear-shaped, and they were at least 6" too short. I'm not even sure if they'd have fit if I were skinny.

Lily Rowan

@Faintly Macabre I have decided not to buy hosiery that doesn't come in at least three sizes anymore -- even in two sizes, they are never long enough!


arggghhh, I KNOW I should be switching away from Pantene, but I have so, so little money right now, I just can't justify it. Stupid lack of ready cash.

Lily Rowan

@area@twitter Do you have a Trader Joe's? Their shampoos are cheap, but I think good.

:Cinnamon Girl:

@Lily Rowan Agree, LOVE TJ's shampoo and conditioner!


@area@twitter There are lots of other cheap brands that aren't as terrible as Pantene. Seriously, they are the worst.


@likethestore Yeah, I second this. Dove works really well for me.

Cat named Virtute

@likethestore Where does Fructus fit on this scale? It is the most expensive I can justify these days.


@Lily Rowan I DO have a TJ's! I will go check them out! And @likethestore and @Polina, thanks for the heads-up on Dove! I want to treat myself to good shampoo (mmm, Paul Mitchell and Bumble and bumble) but it's way down on the list right now beneath "pay off credit card" and "pay off car". C'mon, promotion.
Thank you fellow Hairpinners, you all are the best.


@area@twitter I use Tresemme and maybe it's shitty, I don't know, but it's also cheap and my hair LOVES it. My hair is the boss.

Faintly Macabre

@area@twitter I don't know what your hair's like, so ymmv. I have very curly, very tangly, rather dry hair and pretty sensitive skin. I used to use Garnier almost exclusively ($3 on sale - $1 coupon is hard to beat!) but my skin is so screwy that I was getting sores/cysts on my scalp and decided to switch to super-natural products to see if it helped. I started using Nature's Gate Organic (their non-organic has totally different ingredients) and Avalon conditioner. It's a fair amount more expensive, but whereas I had to use gobs and gobs of Garnier before, a big pump bottle of Avalon has lasted me since April, and my skin got a little less irritated.

TL;DR: I don't think Garnier's bad as far as cheap products go, but if you're thinking of upgrading, it costs the same/barely more in the long run.


@Faintly Macabre Speaking of Avalon . . . I used their lavender shampoo for a while . . . and my scalp started to bleed. Bleed. It would itch really badly and bleed. What is wrong with my head? Anyone else have this problem?

:Cinnamon Girl:

@gladfanny I don't know but if you figure it out will you let me know? Because I had the same thing with the whole foods shampoo! My guess is some sort of scalp infection? Fungal? Hmmm....


@area@twitter Looking at the ingredients list via this fun website: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. Maybe it's the alcohol? Effing up the pH of our scalp? I use the Trader Joe's Nourish shampoo, which I believe has no alcohol, and I've never had any problems. Hmmmm!


Why you gotta hate on Alaska? Damn.

apples and oranges

@Loz I have been planning my dream vacation to Fairbanks to see the Northern Lights since July. (Note - this "dream vacation" is not taking place ANYTIME in the foreseeable future.)


@kayarr I LIVE THERE. September or March. The northern lights were thrashing way hard in September this year, but if you want to go to Chena Hot Springs, come in March. YOUR HAIRZ WILL FREEZE. (looks neat, probably not good for it)


@Janeyvonslainy I'm from Kodiak. I have to go back to the 907 (haha one area code!) for a lot of weddings this year. Un petit pinup?

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

I use Tresemme, and it works well for a bargain brand shampoo. But I still have dreams* about a sample of Frederic Fekkai shea butter shampoo which I was foolish enough to use and fall in love with.

*Wet dreams. It smells that good.


Upgrading lady - only sort of related, and won't help you with whatever you found and love at Sephora, but if you find yourself loving department store makeup like Clinique or Estee Lauder, you can stock up on awesome extras at free gift time. Aside from a few drugstore impulse buys, I have literally never purchased eyeshadow, and I also quite literally throw eyeshadows and lipsticks away because I am SWIMMING in them. And you always get something else too, like lovely face powders and blushes and bronzers and wheeee! I would pay $16 for my Clinique mascara on its own because it is wonderful, so all of this stuff is just a super amazing bonus that I can't believe I'm getting for free.

And on the topic of eyeshadows - there's a drugstore shadow called HIP that comes in a circle container, split down the middle with two colors in it. And it's awesome! For everyone who hates drugstore eyeshadow because it's not pigmented enough, try that!

Brushes lady - one thing I personally cannot do without that Jane didn't mention is an eyebrow brush. After I use pencil I brush my eyebrows because 1) it softens out my pencil so it looks more natural and 2) Combed eyebrows look so much nicer than uncombed eyebrows. Even without pencil. I can't leave the house without brushing my brows now.

Cat named Virtute

@KeLynn The idea of brushing my eyebrows is STAGGERING. But I also have literally never plucked my eyebrows, so.


@Marika Pea@twitter It would have never occurred to me until I bought an eyebrow pencil once that had the brush attached, and I gave it a whirl, and now I can't live without it and bought a dedicated brow brush. I can't even use the brushes that are attached to the pencils anymore, I must use my fancy stand-alone brow brush.

I can't believe I'm admitting this on the internet where anyone can see.


@KeLynn Yep. Can't live without my eyebrow brush. I have really long eyebrow hairs. And it separates the hairs and makes them look reallllly well groomed.


Related to Canada's question, sort of: I want to go hiking and not get shot bc someone thinks I'm a deer in an area where a person has been mistaken for a deer before. Advice on how to find a cute, feminine (as in, cut to take join curve into account and nip at the waist) fleece/Henley/jacket/vest in hunter Orange that isn't ridic heavy or stiff since I'll be, well, hiking, not sitting in a deer blind?


@lovelettersinhell Carhart has been making advances in making clothes that make women look like women that don't drive subarus. They also have SO MUCH fluorescent. I used to have this really great neon orange carhart hoodie that was pretty warm and very visible.


I feel like I'm late, maybe I'm not, buuuuut for makeup brushes I don't like to use animal hair so I go with synthetics. I REALLY like Ecotools, which you can buy at Target: the foundation brush, retractable kabuki brush, and bronzer brush are so good. I read a lot of good reviews for the suuuuper cheap e.l.f brushes, also at Target, but I have a few and they are only ok. Get a whole bunch of Ecotools brushes! Much cheaper than MAC or whatever, no animal hairs, and really do the job.

Hot Doom

@chirdia Seconded! The Ecotools powder brush is great and I've been using it (and cleaning it too!) for years.

Fancy Mustard

Seems to me that, at its core, all beauty is really about is having pretty hair, skin and teeth. So that's what I splurge on - shampoo (Aveda), foundation (Lancome), whitening toothpaste (Crest 3D), etc.

Then I buy less expensive mascara (Almay) so I don't feel bad throwing it out after three months even if there's still "perfectly good" gunk in the tube (plus, it looks the same as higher-end brands for an every-day look). And since I just wear one of three different shades of tinted lip balm (Burt's Bees), I tend to save a bit there, too.

Dry products - eyeshadow, blush and setting powder - are where I go cheapest. If I wore dramatic colors, I'm sure the difference between Maybelline and MAC would be discernible - but as it is, taupe is pretty much taupe. (Ugh, "taupe is taupe"? That's pitiful. Please go do the exact opposite of whatever I just said.)

ample pie

@vealgirl: I feel like you don't have to use expensive powder unless you are only using powder and no foundation (in which case: Benefit's Hello Flawless! powder is amazing).

Plus I think some drugstore eyeshadows are really, really good quality. All the girls on Makeup Alley rave about Wet'n'Wild shadows being nearly comparable in color and payoff to some much more expensive formulas.

Alice Prin

This might be inflammatory... but you know who makes a really great mascara? OH HEY, NOT CHANEL. Picked one up on a whim a couple years back when I upgraded to adult-y makeup and found that it was clumpy, not very remarkable at all, and it also dried up way faster than other brands. And I paid $30 for this mistake. I mean, I guess that's what I get for trusting a company known for oldlady perfume. (*ducks*) Sorry.


@Alice Prin I gotta tell you, I have been blown away by Maybelline mascara quality across the board.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Alice Prin I'll take this as a sign that you're turning the breakup bunker into the makeup bunker? Go for it! Ignore my terrible pun and go for it!


@Alice Prin This is my story with Lancome Hypnose Drama. NEVER AGAIN. How is it so expensive AND so clumpy? Not for nothing though, the Sephora brand mascara is $10-$12 depending on the formula, and it works just as well as the more expensive brands I've tried.


@Alice Prin Honestly, if I didn't develop my smudging problem very suddenly and randomly that sent me on a search for my current favorite, I never would have strayed from CoverGirl Lash Blast. That shit is awesome.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Alice Prin Oh, and mascaras: I'm that girl who swears by Great Lash like a best friend. Other mascaras are too sticky or too clumpy or make my eyes itch.


@hedgehog I've stuck by Maybelline mascara since I was 16! The only high end mascara I've tried is Lancome because it was a free sample, and while I liked the brush better, it was thin chunky and smudgy. Un-fun.

Tid bit that may or may not change your life: For eyeliner, Revlon Colorstay is seriously the best. Ever.

Alice Prin

@Rookie I missed a pun? Hold, please.

...... Breakup Bunker is now the punitentiary.


@Alice Prin I don't usually wear makeup so maybe not the best to be giving advice but! if you're going to do drugstore mascara and you have ITCHY eyes like I always do (regardless of makeuppage), don't bother with the Almay "hypoallergenic" whatever nonsense. The only mascara I've ever used that doesn't make me itch even more is L'Oreal Featherlash. It's nice and fluffy and non-itchy and great. I want to get everyone buying it so it won't go away because I use it maybe 2x a year and so if I want it I have to buy new ones and I'm afraid it'll get taken away in favor of that horrible Maybelline Great Lash itchiness.


@Alice Prin Agreed! I have tried just about all of them, and have found no mascara that is worth more than drugstore price. After an hour, it will look just as clumpy and flat as the drugstore stuff does, so I save the $40 for products that will make more of a difference.

Daisy Razor

Alaska lady: LL Bean can help you.

Their silk underwear is lightweight and keeps you super warm: http://www.llbean.com/llb/search?init=1&freeText=silk+long+johns

And I have walked to work in sub-zero temperatures in this coat and been comfortable (except for my uncovered nose and lower legs): http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/42359?feat=610-GN1&attrValue_0=Blue%20Periwinkle


I was whateversville about shampoo until I got a sample of this Kiehl's "olive fruit oil" stuff then used it and had two people tell me how good my hair looked that day - the shampoo change being the only thing different about my long brown regular hair which had up to that point elicited exactly zero comments in perhaps 3 years? - and then I realized I hda to upgrade. Yes, it is $30, and I have to live with that. But since I am super lazy about washing my hair (twice a week max) that bottle lasts me sixish months.


To Ms. Wet 'n Wild: Check out Birchbox. The Hairpin posted about it last spring and I'm starting to look like a grown up lady thanks to Birchbox. The samples are usually generous enough that you can get by on them for a long while and build your collection slowly since the good stuff can be expensive. Warning: this shit is addictive.


jane, id just like to let you know that i ride a bike to work as much as i can (5ish miles, 25ish minutes each way). i also ride to bars, etc, and i frequently ride in skirts and ridiculous clothes. i also wear a helmet. if i need to i bring extra clothes to change into once i reach my destination.



LADIES, now is a really good time to buy brushes, because you can get the holiday gift sets of 5 brushes + case for $50 from MAC. The handles are a little shorter than if you were to just buy the normal brush, but seriously, do you care? It's < $10 a brush, and they will last you FOREVER.


@contrary Just logged in to say this. Although some claim that these brushes aren't as good as the regular size, but I notice no difference.


@ Upgrade lady, go to Sephora and then look doubtful. You can get samples of basically anything and then give it a good hard road test before you spend your hard-earned $.

Also Urban Decay eyeliners and shadows stay on for your whole life. I have oily awful skin and rub my eyes all the time due to allergies (HOT), and it stays on until I wash it off. Amazing. Like fun crayons for your eyes, and in similar colors.

Emma Peel

OK, I'm going to dissent a bit from Upgrade-lady and say: some drugstore products are really awesome. I went through a happy Sephora phase, but am now in a "I am poor" phase, and have discovered that there isn't that much difference for many things.

It's important to buy foundation and things that are pigmented (eyeshadow, blush) high-end if you can. But the best eyeliner I've ever used is drugstore (Milani Liquif'Eye pencils). I've never found a perfect undereye concealer, but I don't think there's much difference between the $12 Neutrogena and the $25 everything else. Rimmel makes a $4 setting powder that works great. And if you live somewhere with a Target, Sonia Kashuk and Boots make really nice tinted moisturizers.

Obviously this is out the window for foundation heavier than a TM. But I look at my $40 makeup kit and think "I wanted to spend $150 on this WHY?"

Emma Peel

@julieta To clarify, Sephora is SO fun and if I had the $$ I'd probably buy all high-end. But it's not necessarily an "upgrade" to anything other than prettier packaging and a better retail experience.


@julieta Thank you! I feel like a lot of this is trading out the lower class brand and trading in some fancy-packaged brand with many of the same chemicals. I get a vibe like, you're not a real adult woman unless you spend this much money and buy only from this arbitrary list of brands.


@charizard I really think it's all about your priorities. You don't have to use what other people say they like just to feel like you are sophisticated. Just make your choices based on what makes you happy. I watch lots of beauty tutorials and read lots of blogs on the subject but I pick and choose what I like.


@everyone Yeah, I think you guys have a point. I allocate my "splurge" money on pricier makeup rather than clothes because I just fucking. love. makeup. But I think you can mix and match a lot of drugstore products and get great results. Plus I don't live anywhere near a Sephora, so if I have a hankering to try something without waiting for shipping I will usually go to Target. Plus expensive makeup will do nothing for you if you suck at applying it.


@Polina Your last sentence = story of my face :(


I'm glad other people are defending the ability to bike and look great! I'm pretty disappointed that you brushed off her question in your reply instead of stepping up to the challenge!

I wear skirts, heels, the works. I do exclude some dresses without a lot of stretch, like my favorite vintage ones, but most of my clothes are fair game. The big thing is you don't have to push yourself like you're working out! When I work out, I sweat a lot (so gross) but if I ride at a relaxed pace it's no problem.

One of my best tricks is to braid my hair before riding. Hair blowing in the breeze equals frizz for me.

http://letsgorideabike.com/ is awesome for cycling style. http://momentumplanet.com/ is the website for Momentum Magazine which frequently has bike style articles. There's a whole world of blogs devoted to looking chic while biking! Don't write us off!!!


@dandylions Thanks for the links, Momentum's article on rain fashion just changed my life, I had been looking for an awesome cape that would cover my legs but not finding anything that had the right shape AND was waterproof, and lo and behold they linked to a cape that looks cool and is specifically designed for keeping legs dry while cycling!


I'm... still contemplating the makeup brush thing. I only just stopped using Herbal Essences and shopping at Forever 21... baby steps...


@MalPal Still shopping at F21. Need to stop.


MAC eyeshadows are the best, hands down, and the price of a custom palette is really pretty reasonable. NARS is also pretty good, but MAC eyeshadow will have my loyalty forever.
Also, I love how Herbal Essences smells, and even though I realize it's not great, I'm jealous on people who can use it on their hair. Mine quickly turns into a strawlike mess with a greasy top and parched ends that break off. So for me, fancy shampoo/conditioner isn't really a choice. A good way to make it last longer (save $$) is to wash your hair less often though! I only shampoo about 2x/wk.


To Ms. Former Wet 'n Wild: check out Birchbox. It's the reason I'm starting to look like a grown up lady. Most of the samples last weeks, if not months.

(not so) wise owl

Here are a few things I would add to Jane's tips, culled from a lifetime of trial and error and wasting money on women's magazines.

Make-up brushes: Definitely worth the investment, but I'm surprised Jane didn't mention two important things about washing them. 1) When you are swirling them in your soapy palm, be gentle. You don't want to work soap/water too deep into the ferrule--the metal bit holding the hairs--of the brush. Water will dissolve the glue, making the brush shed hairs, and it will also take a long time to dry out. This brings me to 2). Blot your brushes dry with a paper towel and then lay them flat on a counter/table/dresser with the brush hairs hanging over the side. You want to air to circulate and dry them as quickly as possible, otherwise they will start to smell nasty and become hospitable to bacteria.

Shampoo: A lot of "salon brand" shampoos still contain sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate and its slightly weaker cousin sodium laureth sulfate), which are the strong surfactants responsible for the bad rep of drugstore shampoos. The jury is out on how bad sulfates are for your hair. People like them because they provide a rich lather, and in doing so they strip away the oils on your hair and scalp; this gives the "squeaky clean" feeling. However, they are harsh and quite drying, which can in turn cause your scalp to step up oil production and give you the horrible combo of greasy roots and straw-like ends. Personally, I prefer using shampoos without sulfates. Upscale brands like Aveda are sulfate-free, but I've also been pleased with brands like Burt's Bees (approx. $8) that are available at many drugstores. It's worth checking the ingredients of any shampoo you buy, as you might be paying a premium for a fancy bottle and more sophisticated fragrance rather than the contents of the shampoo itself. I'd also caution against using shampoos and conditioners that contain silicone (many high-end "glossing" brands use them). They make hair greasy very quickly.

Finally, the most important tools in a "grown-up" makeup bag are a good foundation and primer. I swear by Giorgio Armani's Lasting Silk Foundation. I bought it after a lot of research: I needed it when I was a bridesmaid in a Labor Day wedding in humid Pennsylvania. That shit looked great and Did. Not. Budge. for 16 hours. It's expensive (and even counterintuitive that Giorgio Armani would sell good makeup), but get them to put it on you and you'll be blown away. Laura Mercier makes great foundation primers, but she also makes a Mattifying Gel/Creme that you can use underneath foundation, on top of it, or alone. For casual make-up, I use that under her oil-free tinted moisturizer.

The bottom line is: Do your research. Read reviews online, check ingredients, try out products by getting samples or going to the counter.


@(not so) wise owl I'm going to use you as a hair therapist and ask for your advice if you don't mind: I have a naturally very oily scalp. I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner daily. I generally use a shampoo with sulfates although I do use a sulfate-free Nature's Gate shampoo on occasion but because it doesn't have the sulfates it tends to leave my hair feeling unclean and prone to getting oily sooner. I do experience the oily roots, dry ends that you mentioned and I find it incredibly frustrating! Do you think if I began using a sulfate-free shampoo everyday for a few weeks I will begin to notice less oil production at the roots and less dryness at the ends? I am trying to grow my hair to about elbow length (sadly, that is not me in that pic lol) but I keep having to get it cut every 3 months because of split ends. Do you have any comments/critiques?

(not so) wise owl

@marybella I don't mind! I'm at home with a cold, and nights like this are what The Hairpin is for.

Here's what I would say, again culled from personal experience and many, many issues of magazines:

If you wash your hair every day (I do, for the record), I really recommend trying a shampoo without sulfates. I understand what you mean about the "unclean" feeling, but in my experience you just need a bit more elbow grease to compensate for the gentler cleansing agents. (What follows might seem intense for something as simple as washing your hair, but try it for a couple of weeks and see if it makes any difference...)

I let my hair get REALLY wet (think about how thoroughly they wet your hair in the salon) and then use a small amount--maybe a nickel?--of shampoo for the first wash. Put it in your palm, and then rub your palms together to lather it a little; remember that it won't foam up in the way that sulfate shampoos will. Then put your hands on your head and start working the shampoo into your scalp with your fingertips. Do this for about 30 seconds, ignoring the ends, then rinse. Then use another nickel-sized dollop, rubbing your palms together and then working it into you scalp as before. I GUARANTEE you that it will "suds up" much more the second time! (I'm not 100% sure why this is, although I can make an educated guess...but I digress). You really don't need to work it into the ends, as the run-off of shampoo when you rinse will clean them well enough.*

Then use a bit of conditioner (without silicone) and rub it into the ends of your hair. I actually don't use conditioner every day now, as without the harsh detergents of regular shampoo my ends aren't that dry and it can just weigh them down. If they need "taming" a light styling cream (Aveda makes a really good one) works better.

Give it a couple of weeks before reaching a final verdict, as it will take a while for your hair to readjust. As you go, you can figure out how often you need to condition; with longer hair, you might need to do it every day. You can also adjust how much shampoo you use (I recently chopped off 7" to chin length, and the care required is quite different...)

I've also recently become a convert to dry shampoo. Psychologically I like to face every day with clean hair (I have an oily scalp), but I do think that it's good to take a break if I don't have anything special to do that day. If I need to go out, I shake that stuff on the roots, rub it in, and then brush out the excess. It works weirdly well.

*The one time sulfate shampoo comes in useful is after you've used a lot of styling products (gels, hairspray, wax) for a special event. If you have have a lot of crap in your hair, sometimes you need those super-strong detergents to get it out. Just rinse really well and condition afterwards.

Here are some non-sulfate shampoos I've tried and liked (I switch up because I get bored...):

Burt's Bees ($), Aveda ($$), Neal's Yard ($$), Kiehl's ($$$). Most of them will say on the label that they are sulfate/paraben-free, but worth checking!


@(not so) wise owl I also have heard that you should use shampoo, and not soap, when cleaning brushes. organic/natural shampoo is best.

And I swear by organic shampoos. Suflates made my hair overproduce oil and be very unhappy for many years!


@marybella If I may - our hair troubles sound similar. I too have very oily hair naturally, and fine hair that damages easily. Simple steps I have taken that have transformed my hair:

-sulfate free shampoo and conditioner (LOVE TIGI Superstar, also Giovanni Root 66, which is organic)
-brush only when hair is dry and cool
-use thermal protectant before heat styling
-use a damage repair product daily on ends
-get haircuts as frequently as possible
-my fave pre-blowdry product: Bed Head Queen for a Day

hope this helps! :-)


@(not so) wise owl Thank you SO much for the thorough and SUPER helpful advice! I really appreciate it!!

I am willing to take any pains in order to get my hair to the way I want it to be so I definitely do not see your hair washing regimen as intense! :)

One question: on the days that you do not use conditioner (after washing with sulfate-free shampoo) is your hair at all knotty and hard to comb through? Since you've mentioned that your hair is now at chin-length I guess that isn't such an issue but when your hair was longer was it ever an issue? Also, you say that you have an oily scalp too; how soon after washing your hair does it become oily at the roots? I just feel like sometimes I have the oiliest, nastiest scalp around lol and I just want to know how others who have oily scalps deal with it.

Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to help me!! :)


@MalPal It's a relief to know that others have the super oily hair (well, I'll speak for myself that my hair can get SUPER oily) problem!

Thank you for the helpful and thoughtful suggestions!

(not so) wise owl

@MalPal I have heard that baby shampoo is good for makeup brushes! Also liquid Ivory soap. Personally, I use unscented Dr. Bronner's; I put a bit in my palm and rub up the bubbles with some water before starting to clean them. I imagine that as long as whatever one uses is organic and free of harsh detergents and fragrances, it's fine!

(not so) wise owl


If you have problems with knotty and tangled ends, I would ask you: how you dry your hair? Do you blot/squeeze it dry, or do you rub it and then twist it up in a towel? I found that doing the former actually makes a difference; it's how they dry your hair at the salon, which I didn't think about for a long time. When I had long hair I would finger-comb it, then squeeze it out in the shower and finger-comb it again. Then I would put a towel over it, blotting up top and then gently squeezing down to the ends. If you don't like the feel of wet hair/water on your back, put the towel round your shoulders after to lift the hair up... you'll get fewer "rivulets" running down that way! This method avoids roughing up the hair cuticle.

It takes an extra minute, but it made my ends much less of a mess. If I didn't use conditioner, I would usually use some styling cream on the ends (I'm a fan of Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream: it does contain dimethicone, a silicone derivative, but in small quantities it can really soften and smooth ends).

My hair is oily enough that I like to wash it every day; it begins to look greasy after anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, and 48 hours is the longest I usually go without washing it. I have noticed that if I blow-dry it, it takes longer for it to look oily, and also that the amount I play/fiddle with it affects how quickly it gets greasy. In addition to eliminating sulfates, check your conditioners and any styling creams for silicone-derived ingredients. If they have them, keep that shit away from your hair or use it really sparingly on the ends.

Again, it's intense to think about washing hair this much, but it makes a surprising difference.


@(not so) wise owl You know what, now that you mention it, I'm realizing that the way I wring my hair out with a towel in order to dry it is probably causing it to tangle. And "wringing" it out is probably not the best way to dry hair that you want to grow long, lol. I am going to try your method since it seems to be the most gentle on hair. And thank you for the styling cream suggestion, I will look into that!

Ok, so you seem to deal with the same oily dilemma that I deal with too. I rarely blow-dry because I like the feel of wet hair for some reason and I know that heat is not good for hair but I agree with you that when I do blow dry the oiliness is less. I am currently using Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Conditioner and L'Oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Conditioner (I switch between the two) and neither have the silicone-derived ingredients that you mentioned. I've noticed that the L'Oreal one makes my hair noticeably more oily and the HE one does not and I'm actually pretty satisfied with it. I don't know what your opinions are on drugstore hair products though...

Thank you again for all your input!


@marybella You're welcome! :-) I've found it to be tricky figuring out how to care for and style our kind of hair because not a lot of people have had tried and true success (and shared it on the internet!). However, this girl has fine oil-prone hair and her hairstyling and product tips are really helpful for me: http://www.youtube.com/user/RachhLoves#p/u/22/-yXYYsDy6DM


@(not so) wise owl @marybella I have started brushing my hair before I shower. It started because my drain was getting clogged with hair, and every time I go to Target the only drain protector they have says "CONTAINS MATERIALS THAT MAY CAUSE CAUSE CANCER" on the package (obviously need to go somewhere else to buy one of these things. But now I do it because I'm not ripping knots out of my wet hair . . . it's a win-win!

tiny dancer

Shampoo tip! I'm a grad student without an income but I just have to use nicer shampoo and conditioner. LW3 (was it 3?), you said you don't have a lot of money so what I do to maximize is buy the huge bottles (33 oz?). I definitely save money that way and have maximum impact. I've been using Aveda for some time and shampure is a bit less expensive than some of their others, like the color protect line and such. You'll have to see what works with your hair of course, but check out the bigger bottles once you try it and like it. Also, Aveda usually has free shipping when you spend a certain amount and that usually covers the big bottles. And the big bottles might save on waste too?


@tiny dancer One thing that I have discovered is the shelf full of hair supplies at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx... you can get amazing deals


This post is stressing me out! I'm a drug store beauty queen and shampoo girl. I think I look okay? Will my life be changed if I switch to more expensive brands? Is there like a make-up version of Tim Gunn that could come to my apartment to tell me what to buy?

Don't even get me started on how to update clothes. I'm hitting that age where I probably need to stop wearing jeans and Chucks to work even though it's a casual environment. But I walk a lot and am short and heavy! What to do!?

(not so) wise owl


When it comes to makeup, you tend to get what you pay for with products like foundation. The available shade ranges of upmarket foundation tend to be more numerous, with more nuanced undertones and subtle pigments, which increases your chance of finding a good match for your skin. Cheaper brands often contain ingredients like mineral oil, a low-cost way to give a foundation a richer, smoother texture (this doesn't equate to smoother, deeper coverage).

You'll also see a benefit from investing in good-quality powdered makeup (e.g. eyeshadows, face powders, blushes and bronzers). Again, the pigments will be better and the shades richer, and the powder will be more finely textured; it will go on smoother and softer, and crease less.

High-end lipsticks are also worth it because they contain stronger pigments (as above, richer shades), so you use less, and often their consistency is smoother and less drying.

Don't bother spending lots of money on mascara, pencil eye- and lip- liners, and gloss. With mascara, the end result is probably affected just as much by the brush type and the number of coats you use as it is by the brand. Curved brushes will give you longer, more noticeable individual lashes, but small brushes can get onto every lash and make your eyelashes appear lusher and thicker (more natural).

Lip glosses don't really contain that much pigment, and honestly most don't last that long, so you can get away with reapplying cheaper brands more often.

With eye and lip pencils, it's as broad as it's long: there are only a few factories in the world that make them, so there's not much difference between all the brands. This doesn't apply to gel and cake liners.

For hair, skin, and body products, I do believe it depends more on the ingredients than the brand. More expensive brands have nicer packaging and usually nicer fragrances, but they can still contain the same stuff as cheaper ones. It is worth it, in my view, to spend a bit more for products that have more natural ingredients in lieu of traditional synthetic ones. Ingredients are listed in decreasing volume, so the ones that come first make up a larger percentage of the product (ever notice how water, or "aqua", often leads the list?). Products often advertise their "natural" ingredients, but when you look at their ingredient list the "extract of whatever is often last--this usually means that it is present in a negligible amount, and is unlikely to yield any benefit.

Definitely compare the percentage of listed "effective" ingredients when you are looking at skincare products. More expensive products often have higher concentrations of them (particularly the case with AHAs and BHAs).


@(not so) wise owl @Kris10 I pretty much agree that with many beauty products you do get what you pay for. But I do have to disagree a little on the foundation thing for instance. There are many really amazing high end foundations, but Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse is still my go to. It won out over MUF HD Foundation for me (besides being almost $35 cheaper). It covers everything and I don't need a concealer. Lasts all day because I use a high end primer. Really nice texture. So, I just wanted to say that you can still look beautiful with drug store products, and I bet you do! It's nice to have better products, but if you actually know how to apply the makeup well that is huge.


Plush tights!! They are like very fitted sweatpants that you don't have to wear socks with. Also, good for wearing underneath pants if your pants are kind of baggy (somebody solve my urgent need for inexpensive, short, odd-sized jeans) and thus cold.


re makeup: google crown brush and sigma brush. they manufacture lots of private label brushes. huge assortment at great prices.

many makeup bloggers report that multi-brush kits from mac, etc, are usually of lesser quality than their regular brushes.

my fave mascara that i keep returning to after trying many others is loreal voluminous. $5.84 at target


FYI- Fekkai shows up at TJ MAxx, Marshalls, etc on occassion in the "beauty" section! about 1/2 price from the normal store/salon! Check it!
In addition, Tj MAxx has loads of designer perfumes if you can't stomach splurging $80 -$120 on perfume.
Finally, despite it's sad name, the Cosmetics Company Store (in outlet malls across America) - is all Estee Lauder products - (including MAC!), and the makeup is about 30% off from the "normal" store. I thought it was a janky cheapo perfume store, but I walked in and was like WHAT IS ALL THIS MAC MAKEUP DOING HERE?? Call ahead, b/c I have heard they don't all have Mac, but they do have Estee line products. + Bumble and Bumble!!!! They are NOT online anywhere - kinda weird, but worth it if you find one.


@workerbee Just came on to second that TJMaxx, Marshalls thing-- if you want cheap beauty things that are actually expensive, go there!


Ok, I know this is about to sound insane, and trust me, I am not usually one for hippy alternatives to beauty products, but I've been washing my hair with a mild (very mild) shampoo bar and rinsing with vinegar for a year now and it's amazing. Seriously, I used to use Redkin because it was the only thing that would make my super dry hair behave, but a friend of mine begged me to try the soap and vinegar method and it works wonders. AND it's crazy cheap, especially since I was in the habit of spending 50 dollars on a bottle of shampoo before.


Oh, and I have a question (though I think I'm a little late to this? maybe?)

Dry shampoo as a sometimes-alternative to actual shampoo? Is it less damaging/drying to your hair? (I've been using it, but just want to see if I should continue)


@fabel Ooh yes, I'd like to get an answer to that question too. I use Tresseme Dry Shampoo on days where I don't have to go anywhere, or on yucky hair ruining weather days. So I'd be curious to know if it's helping my hair damage wise, or what.


I wholeheartedly agree with you on the shampoo front Jane. I'll be the first to admit I'm crazy cheap and only recently weaned off the Walgreen's makeup section. The last time I went to get my hair did, I was complaining about how my hair can't hold style and doesn't do much but be lazy. She asked me what shampoo I use and when I told her (it was Dove. Dove!) She showed me a couple options. Christ on a bicycle, my hair has never looked (or smelled) or felt this good.

Adding to the other ladies comments, you can also find good makeup brushes at the Nordstrom Rack stores in addition to great haircare products(there's one in Manhattan in Union Square).

Sally Bette Newman@facebook

WHOAH i am obsessed with Uniqlo and go whenever I visit nyc now that I moved away. I had no idea they'd mail stuff to you, I will now do that all the time. They have this cashmere trench coat right now that's amazing.

For the lady in Alaska, they also have down coats of like... every shape and size and color and thickness (although they're not all listed on the website, which is sad). My favorite is this lightweight one that comes with a tiny stuffsack (http://www.uniqlo.com/us/CPaGoods/itemcode=069160) - it's still really warm but you can wear it out to a bar and then put it in your purse! It's incredible! If I lived in Alaska (and I'm from Montana, so I know cold, I spent my childhood staticky and struggling with my parents over wool sweaters and ugly down coats) I would have a few down coats/vests to combine and layer, and a huge fluffy circular scarf, because those always look elegant but add a lot of warmth and don't get in the way of your arms or flatten your hair. And leg warmers. And boots made in Canada that are roomy enough for nice wool socks and the wool leg warmers, they know their boots.


@Sally Bette Newman@facebook That Uniqlo coat is the coat of my dreams come to life! You can put it in your purse- whaaaat?!? Amazing. That is going on my Christmas list right now. Thank you!


LW #1- This brand makes inexpensive brushes and brush sets, and I have been pleased with the quality. I have the set in the purple case, and it has covered most of my needs nicely.


WTHBS, if you just want to start with a few good brushes, these are in heaviest rotation at my house:


This is the best foundation brush OF ALL TIME. The foundation goes on super light, gives good coverage and an airbrushed-looking finish. If you use cream blush, this can help you get good coverage without clumping or looking weird.


If you use powder blush, you must get one of these. It distributes a really light wash of color, so you can get a natural look and avoid overdoing it. If you overdo it anyway, this brush will help you tone it down.



I like these two for eyeliner.

LW#2-If you want to try out higher end stuff but don't want to spend a lot of money, I have two pieces of advise for you: 1) Go to Makeupalley.com. They have product reviews for just about everything. You can check out the brand you want and see how it has worked for other people. I have saved so much money and aggravation by following their advice. #2-shop online. It is so much cheaper. You may have to do some digging, but you can almost always find it cheaper than retail. #3-Buy sample sizes to try before you commit to a full-size bottle. You will save so much money and bathroom clutter by making sure it works for you first.


@Hooplehead Urgh, sorry-LW2 should be LW3.


AHHHH make-up is so overwhelming. I'm going back to bed.


ELF brushes, y'all!

Can i ask you guys something? When I wear mascara (i wear glasses), it always makes my eyes feel tired and gluey and like, weighed down? Advice?


@smack What kind are you using?


@Polina I'm using the Maybelline Full & Soft but it happens with all kinds of mascara - I'm not glunking it on, either, just like a coat.


@smack YES! ELF!

I'm at that "I'm a big girl and can make investments" stage too, but rarely can I bring myself to do it with makeup (It expires, I wash it off everyday...).

ELF brushes are pretty great, especially if you're new to using them and aren't sure what you need. Check out MakeUp Alley for proof. A good reference site all around, too.

Also, go get their Holiday eye shadow palettes! They're awesome for drug store and $5. I have the 32 color palettes in neutral and colorful shades, and for $10 I have all the shadow I need for years. Not chalky at all.

sarah girl

@smack Have you tried curling your eyelashes before applying mascara? It only takes a few seconds, I promise! My eyelashes have no natural curl and just stick straight out, and putting mascara on directly feels weird and heavy; if I curl them up, the ends are turned away from my eyes and things feel less claustrophobic. Worth a try, at least!


@smack I agree that curling your eyelashes first could be helpful. But I think the real problem is probably that you are using mascara that is on the chunky side. I like Maybelline Define-a-lash for a mascara and brush that goes on more delicately than any other I have tried. You could always go to the Mac counter or something and get a more expensive one. If you do, let me know how it goes! Also, try getting one of those little eyebrow/eyelash combs. I like it to help comb out any chunks. And be sure to replace mascara every few months. Seriously, mine have always chunked out after three months or so and there is no going back.

Jennifer Udden@twitter

I was in a Sephora once and learned something that legit CHANGED MY LIFE: I use a blush brush to apply my foundation. Like this one http://www.ecotools.com/shop-collection/best-sellers (the one in the middle). It goes on really evenly and doesn't inflame my skin and I actually don't have to use as much as I used to.

Natasha Simons@facebook

Oh my gosh, no, makeup brushes DO matter. I agree that even the bottom-of-the-line ones at Sephora are fine, but adult lady makeup people need real brushes. I love my Shu Uemera foundation brush and there is simply no better face brush than Mac's Duo Fibre brush. Everyone should own one. And PLEASE wash them with baby shampoo, not just any liquid soap.


@Natasha Simons@facebook And real animal hair makes a difference. I'm sorry, animals who had to die for my vanity.


A lot of the brushes that I use on a daily basis are not all high end. I've found that eco tools and real techniques (pixiwoo on youtube - can be bought at Ulta) are really good. But, if I were to choose two brushes that I can use for my whole entire eye it would be the MAC 239 (to pat on a good amount of eyeshadow to your lid) and the MAC 217 to blend everything out. MAC 217 is seriously like a dream in brush form.

bouncy castle

DAMN I wish I had the time/energy to read all these comments but I skimmed and I think I'm not being repetitive: Firstly, insulated coveralls. I know, so dorky, but it's like ZIP ZOOP YOU'RE WARM!! Worth it. And now I know I am in fact being repetitive but it is absolutely possible to look cute on a bicycle, if you get creative with ways of keeping skirts in control and wide-legged pants out of the gears. Sometimes considerations must be made for hair (because we all wear helmets, correct ladies?) and shoes but that's what saddlebags and getting to the place a little early to fix yourself up in the bathroom are for.


I think once a year, MAC has a special offer and you can get a set of really nice brushes and a case for a reasonable price. No more than 50 dollars if I remember correctly. My mom bought me a set and they were my first brushes. They're great as a starting point.


This is actually a good time to find some higher end shampoo and conditioner on god deals. Target is selling a set of shampoo/conditioner for about the price of the shampoo alone. I bought the moisturizing ones from Fekkai and I really love it, but there were other brands, too. Obviously not everyone loves the same brands. I was a fan of Bumble & Bumble for a while, but I'm taking a break from it so my hair doesn't rebel.


Kenra Clarifying Shampoo. Has gotten me through the dreaded teenage period of Super Oily Hair, and somewhat beyond. It's lovely, but expensive >.O Worth it? I generally think so.


Ok, can I just say that it is totally possible to bike and be cute? As long as you aren't biking like 10 miles, in which case wear the damn spandex. But I bike a mile to school every day, sometimes more than once, and I look cute all the time. Get a chain guard! Wear skinny jeans and tights and shoes that aren't all over the place! I bike in dresses -- year round, and I live in Minnesota so no "ohhh but I can't" nonsense -- and it's totally doable if you get a bike with a low stepthrough. Wear the spands under the dress if you just totally can't handle a little flashing on the road. Although frankly, I tend to assume that most drivers aren't paying attention to my granny panties if they get a peek here and there. Maybe I need better underwear? Whatever. The point is, you can totally bike and wear fashionable things.


@starsdied Er, I have about a 10-mile commute to work one way, and I still dress in normal civilian clothes along the way (granted, I have a super casual office). I kind of don't mind being mildly gross for the first few minutes after I get to work, but two items of apparel help this lifestyle work: first, when it's really repulsively hot I'll just bike in a light tank top or undershirt, then toss my "real" shirt on right after I get off my bike to look presentable in the elevator, then head to the bathroom and remove the sweaty shirt first thing. Second, in order to maintain some illusion of modesty while biking in a skirt and never worry about getting on/off, I also slip on a pair of cheapo stretchy shorts underneath; you don't even need to take them off later unless you want to. Granted, I also have short hair (which, for me, is actually improved by the helmet effect) and don't wear makeup, which may be atypical for the readership of this particular column.



Aunty Christ

I live in Minneapolis and take the bus. (I'm always prepared for at least 30 minutes of waiting in sub-zero weather and wind). I have a long-ish down puffy coat (which actually looks really cute) and WINTER LEGGINGS from American Apparel. They go under jeans or other leggings or alone, whatever. They're just a little thermally without looking at all like thermals. Also, nude or black figure skating tights to wear under normal tights is an undetectable secret for going-out nights or whatever. I also wear my Sorels around the office and no one notices.

Robin Rubbermaid

Gee, maybe equating being a "grown-up" with having disposable income for high-end beauty products is kind of...oh I don't know...elitist as fuck?


I'd like to bike, but a friend was in a terrible bike accident last summer. Weeks in the hospital, broken leg and arm, facial reconstruction with skin grafts and while everything has healed, he's left with a ridiculous amount of scarring. I couldn't pull off the rakish good looks. (also there's this fear of dying?)
How do you get past a HUGE fear of accidents?

Oh and fellow petite girl!
Tip 1: Hem EVERYTHING. There's a bunch of youtube videos that show how to hem things (it's easy I swear) or look up a local tailor ($5-15). Nothing says young! like a ratty hem dragging on the ground.
Tip 2: When you're looking around for style inspiration also check out some petite specific style blogs? alterationsneeded is a good starting place. She's short and super TINY but her blog roll is really extensive. (semi-creepy? tip #3: find someone with your body type and height and stalk their clothing brands) Ann Taylor and LOFT are favorites. Gap and Lands End have petite sections too. I got some long sleeve shirts from LOFT that fit AND had the perfect sleeve length.


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