How does one introduce a post like this? I have a theory that you really shouldn’t even try, so I’ll just go with this- the following consists of my favorite and most significant beauty moments of 2013. Some involve me, some don’t. But this is what made the year fun, exciting, and especially peaceful when it came to beauty and all that it involves. Enioy!
#1 Hitting my hair stride.
Last year, as regular readers know, I cut my hair into a blunt long-ish bob and colored it a deep, ashier shade of brown. I did it as an inaugural celebration of autumn, but the problem is … autumn ends. And having dark, ashy hair during winter just did not suit my mood. In fact, I’m not entirely sure when it will suit me. I came to the conclusion in 2013 that I am a brunette with spackles of light, and my hair, at this point in my life, is meant to be long.
Growing it out has been a fun, exciting exercise in patience. There has been many a “good hair selfie” (at least according to my taste), but it’s just been too fun documenting the growth of it. I’ve used my favorite hydrating and restorative conditioners by Davines and Sachajuan along with my trusty Rahua shampoo just twice a week for extra health insurance. Little scalp massages, just enough protein, and plenty of moisture have allowed me to avoid the dreaded in-between phase of uncertainty, accompanied by a desperation to just cut it. It’s been a long journey, and I’m gunning for one to two more inches, but whew … I think we’re just about there. And you have to understand, I know the hair fixation has probably been a bit much for you readers, but this has been a long process of really choosing to like my own hair. I’ve always been okay with my skin, and I’m decently handy when it comes to makeup, but when it has come to hair, I had always wanted anyone’s but my own. I feel that within the past year or so, I can finally say that’s no longer the case (even if I’m crazy about everyone else’s hair, still).
#2 This person existing
I don’t know where this person came from, what she was doing before 2013, or how she managed to fly under the radar for this long, but Lupita Nyong’O is Thee. New. Thing. Her role in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave managed to catapult her into the spotlight literally overnight, and once I laid eyes on her, all I could say was OHHHH MYYY GAWWWDDDD THE MAKEUPZZZZZZ!!! Whatever makeup artist that took hold of this girl before her first appearance (or who knows … maybe she did it all on her own?) seriously put their foot down and must’ve said, “GO BRIGHT OR GO HOME.” Lupita’s makeup has been nothing short of showstopping in nearly every picture I’ve seen of her (and I seriously pee my pants just thinking about awards season). You know those ridiculously obnoxious, acidic shades of NARS eyeshadow or MakeUpForEver lipsticks or Illamasqua blush that have made you wonder who could wear this and why is this here? Lupita Nyong’O, ladies and gentlemen. That’s who, and that’s why.
#3 Finally making peace with this haircut
You may recall that last year, I was somewhat traumatized by the amount of hair-choppage that had been occurring among celebrities. I felt frustration over seeing girls with long locks deciding to go the way of the pixie. Of course, this had much to do with the fact that I felt I could no longer identify with them, as I so strongly identify with longer hair. However, this year presented me with a few challenges involving liking and enjoying people that aren’t like me. What a bloody novel idea, right? So anyhow, the lessons and growth within these challenges trickled down to even the most seemingly meaningless things, like the acceptance of short haircuts on celebrities. So when Jennifer Lawrence chopped her locks this past November, I made the conscious decision to like it. Get over the fact that you’ll probably never do it yourself; a damned haircut on someone else doesn’t have anything to do with you. Lessening one’s focus on oneself enables you to actually enjoy others, to actually be happy for them. And so this is why I like Jennifer’s haircut. Because honestly, it looks good and I just need to shut up.
#4 Going luxe with these babies
This year was a year in which I chose to invest. It probably wasn’t always necessary, but Sephora gift cards and some celebrity makeup inspiration will do that to you. And honestly … I just love makeup. It’s fun. I’ll save on clothes, use the same laptop that I’ve had since 2007, but when it comes to beauty, I’m a sucker. So what’ll happen is this- I’m an introvert in the sense that I tend to recharge with alone time. On an afternoon where I’ll be feeling especially antsy, I’ll head off to Bloomingdale’s or some place like that and I’ll just wander through the beauty department (NK Space is particularly dangerous for me). I’ll mess around with the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, play around with the Kevyn Aucoin, put some Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Foundation at the YSL counter, and try on the most expensive moisturizer I can find. The SK-II “Try me” jars are especially exciting (at $250 per jar of “everyday” moisturizer). Of course, I buy very, very little of it, but sometimes I’ll splurge. These Dior 5-Couleurs Palettes are a couple of those splurges. For the record, “Earth Reflection” is my favorite. And they’re all seriously more fun than a box of kittens. And if you know me, you know how I feel about boxes of kittens.
#5 Discovering this picture
With all things being said about the acceptance of others’ hair, it’s still an admittedly good thing to find some true inspiration for your own. For the longest time, all I could think about in terms of hair was Olivia Palermo, Olivia Palermo, and more Olivia Palermo. Something about her hair seemed so wholly unattainable though, almost surreal. I imagine that she gets blowouts every week, as many New York socialites do, and that kind of thing is just discouraging to us layfolk. Comparing oneself with the privileged (or anyone, for that matter) can truly wreak havoc on your appreciation for what you have. And so, I tried for a good while to give up my Palermo obsession. I had to really fight to love my own hair, you know? And while on the road to recovery, I discovered this shot of Italian-French-Egyptian actress and model Elisa Sednaoui. What struck me was the fact that I didn’t want her hair, but instead I felt that I sort of already had it. Hers was just a little longer, but the texture, color, and thickness of it just seemed right on the spot. Suddenly, I didn’t want someone else’s hair, but instead I was even more excited for my own. Instead of comparison, this felt more like encouragement.
#6 Finally finding a home for my Hobbit feet
Fact: Mani-pedis give me anxiety. I’m not kidding. I can’t say I understand fully why, but there’s this- I have a fear of language barriers. Real talk. I get anxious when I fear that I won’t be able to understand someone, that the aesthetician won’t understand me, and that we’ll ultimately just have a shared, awkward experience full of silence and clinched teeth. This has happened before during a nail service experience (or at least, it’s what I perceived to be happening, but it may just have been in my head which is so frequently the case). When it comes to beauty services, be it massages, pedicures, or blowouts, I want the professional and I to feel comfortable. Coming from the service industry, I get that the most fun, worthwhile interactions with customers are ones where you feel like you’re both human. So consequently, I’ve avoided mani-pedis for fear of the awkward and for fear of looking like an idiot.
The problem, however, is that my feet get kind of, um, janky. See those remnants of polish? This photo was taken in December, and that polish is from … the beginning of August. Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. And I know I could take care of it myself, but honestly, I let it get to the point where my feet literally need to be left to the hands of trained professionals. It’s bad. And that right big toenail is really as jagged as it looks. Like, Matterhorn kinds of jagged. I mean, it’s easy to let your feet go in the autumn seasons because you’re wearing close-toed shoes and all, but sometimes, around late November, I worry that I’ll take my boots off and my feet will have sprouted bushes or something. But the only place I’ve ever gone to have my nails taken care of is the place out by my parents’ home, just out of sheer fear of trying a new place. However, on the day I took this photo, I decided something needed to happen now.
So where did I take my little Hobbit feet? Oh, just the place right outside my apartment complex that’s literally steps away from my front door and that has awesome Yelp reviews. Hi-Tek Nails, folks. If I could slap a sticker on that place’s window that says “THE BRIGHT BLUSH SEAL OF APPROVAL!”, I would! But that sticker would probably look more like a piece of masking tape with my writing on it. Anyhow, the pro that helped me out that day is Christy (not sure how she spells it, so we’ll go with this). She was amazing. She was a human. And I acted like a human. We talked. We laughed. Like humans do. I saw so many regulars coming in and out of the place with Christmas gifts for all the ladies working there; you can tell Hi-Tek has a loyal clientele. And they were playing The Andy Griffith Show and Flipper on their TV! I mean, can you imagine watching an episode of The Twilight Zone and getting a pedicure at the same time?! That’s like, my heaven.
Thanks, Hi-Tek! I’ll be back, now that my Hobbit feet are out of their hole and on off on an extremely unexpected journey in some Birkenstocks. And properly painted a glittery black.
#7 Teal eyeliner EVERYWHERE
Talk about a fast and easy way to change up your look. I don’t know about you, but I saw teal eyeliner in every magazine, of seemingly every month, on almost every celebrity this past year. We were adding it to our upper lids, our lower lids, or all around our eyes. We were wearing it on more formal occasions, and on casual Saturdays. We wore it as an edgy statement, or as a haphazard, last-minute add-on to spice up an everyday look. And I loved it.
I especially love that this shade seems to work well on everyone. It’s so flattering, and it’s so unexpected. There’s a girl that I work with who wears teal eyeliner almost every day, and I love that it’s the first thing I notice about her. It’s like this extra little punch of personality in your look that feels so free-spirited.
Even just the slightest touch of a darker shade of blue can work magic. I love that the teal eyeliner is almost unnoticeable on Marion here, until you get a closeup look. It’s like a hidden secret that just adds that extra half-inch to the whole package. I can’t encourage you enough to give it a try, especially the next time you’re about to step out the door but still feeling blah.
#8 Reaching the end of my face makeup journey
This is it. This is the stuff. I don’t really care about finding anything else. I don’t wear all of this at once (obvi), and sometimes I only wear that little guy over there to the left (sunscreen/moisturizer), but mostly, I’m just happy with what you see here. When I want to go the extra mile and give myself a little brightening mask, I reach for Clarins Beauty Flash Balm for a tightening and cooling effect. I then immediately apply my loose BareMinerals if I’m going out and need a bit of coverage. Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit dry or want an extra glow-y look, I’ll mix Weleda’s Skin Food with Boscia’s B.B. Cream and forget the Aubrey moisturizer altogether (as the B.B. has SPF in it). And typically I’ll apply my NARS Creamy Radiant concealer because my dark circles are pretty much Mordor kinds of dark (inherited from my dad’s side), but if I want something lighter in coverage and consistency I’ll go for the Yves Saint Laurent Touche’ Eclat, which I’ve also used as a highlighter.
And that’s it. I don’t want any more searching. I’m good. My only skincare goal for 2014 is to add a serum into my regimen so I can start taking those first baby steps into the world of aging prevention and damage recovery (which for me comes in the form of dark spots and scars from years of picking zits). But other than this, I’m done! Achievement unlocked.
#9 Remember this person? Yup. She showed up to the Cannes Film Festival this year. And you wanted to be her.
This, ladies and gents, is Aishwarya Rai. She’s an Indian Bollywood queen with a huge fan-base, a former Miss World, and once cited by 60 Minutes as the “world’s most beautiful woman”. Unless you’re a weirdo that’s only attracted to goldfish, it isn’t hard to see why. The buzz about Miss Rai seemed to reach a peak in the mid-2000’s (from what I remember in the States). But she then decided to go off and do the stupid, dum-dum thing called getting married and having a kid. Ugh. So not modern. And then she stated that she wanted to take some time off from work so she could “simply enjoy motherhood”. Um, excuse me? What tomfoolery is THIS?! You can’t take time off and ENJOY motherhood!! That is giving away your independence! You are MISS WORLD!!! You get yo’ butt back to WEEERRRRK, Miss WORLD!! No dumb baby should stop Miss WORLD from being Miss WORLD!!!!!
If you don’t sense the sarcasm here, I can’t help you with life. And I mean it.
So anyhow, post-baby Aishwayra chose to take some time off from Bollywood, and in the process of pregnancy and enjoying motherhood, proceeded to gain some weight. Like most child-bearing humans. But what happened then wasn’t so human- she received widespread criticism from her fans and the media for not losing her baby weight immediately and getting back to WERK. A commenter on the Daily Mail claimed, “She is a Bollywood actress, and it is her duty to look good and fit.” Another said, “She needs to learn from people like Victoria Beckham who are back to a size zero weeks after their delivery.”
Yup. That happened.
So fast forward to the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a couple years later. Aishwayra had been invited to appear at the glitzed-out affair of international cinema royalty, and the pressure to show up in her former supermodel form was ON. So how would she look?! Like the skinny actress she was just BORN to be?! Would that baby weight be totally gone?!
Nope. Oh sure, the baby weight wasn’t gone, but instead, she showed up looking like a FREAKING GODDESS WITH A TOTALLY NORMAL PERSON’S BODY. BOOM.
See, this is what I’m talkin’ about. She isn’t nearly as thin as in her earlier days, but can you seriously even argue that it matters? I’ve never been so stunned by Ash as when I saw some of these photos of her at Cannes. She’s glowing; she’s regal. Her face, body, and hair are full, and it just looks divine. And I’m sorry, but that face is just unbelievable. I’m not comfortable with the word ‘exotic’ to describe a particular look, mostly because we can’t truly seem to define what exactly it means other than ‘you are a desirable, tan object hailing from the tropics’, and so to describe Ash’s beauty, I tend to favor the word ‘global’. She’s full Indian, but her features appear as if to be a mix of all kinds of ethnicity. She’s got that all-over-the-world look that’s so interesting and different. Pretty fitting for Miss World, no?
Yeah, that right there is seriously your quintessential HATERS GONNA HATE face. Eat your heart out, critics. And you enjoy that baby, Miss Ash. Treat yo’self 2013!
#10 Making peace with no makeup on weekdays.
I have no image for this because the last thing any of us needs is another selfie #nomakeup. So I’ll just use my words for this one. I used to whine and complain about not being able to get my fanny in gear to the point where I could put on a full face of makeup for work every morning. But I’ve finally arrived at the point where I’m okay with saying that that’s just me. Makeup is for weekends or when I have the time. Makeup is for when I can enjoy it. Makeup is not a necessity (though the concealer, eyebrows, and lip balm can’t really be compromised). Makeup doesn’t have to happen everyday, and that’s what makes it special. Nice, freshly-washed hair isn’t a necessity either. Sometimes a topknot and sunscreen is all you can ask of a Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday before 5:00PM. And that’s okay. Just enjoy it for what it is, and don’t be a slave to it.
And these, my friends, are my favorite moments in beauty for 2013. It’s been a good, challenging year of acceptance and learning to enjoy the routines I have rather than ache and yearn for ones I don’t. I’m not even compiling a “worst of” list this year because there’s wasn’t anything that got me too irked anyhow! It’s been a great year, and let’s keep in up in the one to come. xo, MR
P.S. Oh, and a total bonus #11- Thanks to new editor in chief Eva Chen, Lucky Magazine is totally on the comeback trail. Remember how last year I wrote an entire post about how terrible it had become? A year-and-a-half later and I’m thinking just the opposite. Can’t wait to resubscribe and see Zoe Saldana on the February cover! Woohoo!