August Musings On September Issues

I’ll be honest- August is one of my least favorite months. I don’t know why but weird, not-so-awesome things always seem to happen in August, or the month has routinely carried the weight of transition for me. I moved during August (two years to the date!), school frequently starts up again in August, the calendar starts to get too busy in August, and summer movies are never quite as good in August. It could be the looming start of a new school year and the existential reminder that all good Rosé seasons must come to an end, or it could just be me.

So over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to take back this month and be intentional about enjoying it, and for nearly ten years now one of those ways has involved getting really, really, reeeeeeeeally excited for September issues. If you know me, you know this. The annual crowning achievement of every fashion magazine editor is their September issue, and while the magazine industry seems to be in upheaval now right alongside retail, we can bet that no matter what happens there will forever and always be excitement surrounding the inaugural weeks of fall fashion. I’m not sure why people don’t get this excited for spring fashion in February. It must be the pumpkin-spice-loving, Ugg-boots-wearing, Bath-and-Body-Works-obsessing white girl in all of us.

So let’s look at a couple September covers, though we’ll be sans Vogue today because they have to be all queenie and make a grand entrance after everyone else. However, we WILL make some speculative guesses!

Blake Lively for Glamour

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I like this cover. It’s cheerful. It reads a little more March than September to me, but it’s still very beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the large flower on Blake’s neck, but the soft focus on her face is easily the first thing you notice anyhow. Glamour has really been playing with its cover design the past couple years and the playful font lends a decidedly millennial feel to this one, clearly reaching out to younger readers. Lively apparently spends a great deal of her interview discussing the Child Rescue Coalition, an organization that “provides law enforcement with technology to track and prosecute child predators.” It might be heavy subject matter for a September issue, but I have to say it’s great to hear a celebrity pushing the focus outward instead of talking about their latest reinvention of themselves.

Alicia Vikander for Elle

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This, in stark contrast to Glamour‘s, is actually the kind of cover I prefer. It may be a little boring to some but I like that it makes a plain, straightforward statement. The bold fonts combined with Vikander’s dress and shoulder-y stance give off a kind of eighties vibe. Speaking of Alicia Vikander, it isn’t as interesting to see who is chosen for a September cover as much as it is to discover why. I like trying to predict September covers based on who has projects coming up that month. Alicia probably snagged the cover in anticipation of her late-August movie Tulip Fever, and to ramp up buzz for her Tomb Raider remake in March.

For Vogue, rumor has it that a certain actress in an upcoming Darren Aronofsky film will be taking their September cover. If this proves true I’ll be a little disappointed beings that she had this coveted cover just four years ago AND she was on Vogue‘s cover this past December, less than a year ago! Give it a rest, Ms. Wintour. And a second prediction- Rihanna will almost certainly grab a September cover somewhere, be it with Allure or Marie Claire, due to the launch of Fenty Beauty on September 8. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this launch. You know there’s bound to be some top-of-the-line lipstick in any beauty launch that Rihanna’s responsible for.

Selena Gomez for InStyle

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Ah, and now for the one that I subscribe to and don’t just pick up on occasion. This magazine has been undergoing a nonstop overhaul since Laura Brown replaced Ariel Foxman as editor-in-chief last November. Some of the changes I’ve loved, others not as much. The covers that Brown has overseen have been consistently fresh and eye-catching nonetheless. She really has done a bang-up job.

It’s seemed the entire print mag industry has been trying to get its sea legs as it adjusts to constant change these years. Some have shuttered completely (RIP Lucky, Self, and probably People StyleWatch, or whatever it’s called now, very soon). Waning relevance thanks to social media and online content, a struggling retail industry (affecting fashion in general), and a political climate in upheaval have made it a challenge for fashion magazines to keep up readership and relatability. It’s been good to see InStyle as one of the few print periodicals that has taken the bull by the horns and leaned in to the maelstrom of change these days. And Selena, the woman with the most Instagram followers in the world at 124 million, is having her moment with a Coach partnership and a new album out probably sooner than later.

Adriana Lima, The Weeknd, and Irina Shayk for Harper’s Bazaar

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And now for the wildcard. Selena and her boyfriend must be high-fiving each other over both claiming September covers this year- not something you’d expect to find on any male celebrity’s resume (save for the obvious i.e. GQ). I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I first saw this. The expressions on their faces somehow read super Zoolander to me. I’m pleased, however, that Adriana and Irina are the only models on the September cover lineup so far. The rest are musicians or actors. I have to say that I’m pretty burned out with the resurgence of the supermodel. I know for a while we all complained that the world of fashion had been given over to the celebrity and there was not enough respect being given to the model, the original and true muse of the industry. However, we’ve turned on the supermodel firehose these days with an endless barrage of Gigi, Kendall, Joan, Bella, Hailey, Kaia, Emily, Cara, and Karlie. Their omnipresence on our social media feeds has had a numbing effect on me personally, and I’ve struggled to relate one little bit to today’s supermodels. But I guess the point of a supermodel isn’t exactly relatability, is it?  And the day I do relate to one, well, that probably means I’ve somehow become one in some alternate universe.

Any covers you especially love? Or any predictions for those yet seen? Do tell, and first and foremost, try to enjoy your August! xo, MR

Photo credits by order of appearance: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour magazine, David Bellemere/ELLE, Phil Poynter/InStyle, Brigitte LaCombe

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Bachelorette Beauty-Palooza!

Ah, the Bachelorette.  The tears (“I can’t control my emotions right now!”), the destination dates (someone should’ve told Alex to take off that Argentinian gaucho hat), the scapegoats (seriously, Chad was one of the only sane guys there), the dudes who all look exactly the same and who are white, one hundred percent of the time, when it comes to the final four contestants of each season.

This current season featuring Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher is one out of just two Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons that I’ve watched in the past decade.  I think I watched a Bachelor season with a contender named Moana in it years and years ago in high school, so it barely counts.  And in 2014, when my curiosity was piqued once more, I finally decided to tune again only to bear witness to the ridiculousness that was Juan Pablo Galavis, a Bachelor who has largely gone on to be known as one of the most hated in the franchise.  I can’t tell you how many friends said to me, “Oh, yeah, this is a really bad season to start watching again.”

But what actually kept me watching the dreaded Juan Pablo season didn’t really have anything to do with him.  By the sixth episode I couldn’t have cared less who he chose, but you know what I did care about?  Sharleen Joynt’s eyebrows.  And Andi Dorfman’s ombre.  And Nikki Ferrell’s waves.  And Sharleen’s lipsticks.  Yes, I continued watching this dumpster fire of a season (at least, until the final two) for the amazing parade of positively sensational hair and makeup.  And during this current season, JoJo has been quite the parade float, too.

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I once read an article in a February 2014 edition of Allure magazine that spoke of how the women vying for the Bachelor’s heart have so much downtime, are so constantly bored (no Internet, no outside contact, no phones), and spend so much time together that the main chunk of their time ends up focused on doing one another’s hair and makeup.  I mean, can you blame them?  It’s likely that there are at least a few girls with skills in the house, there are no stylists (except for the final rose ceremony and first introductions, apparently), and with burdensome amounts of time on your hands and your main priority being attractive for one guy, you might as well keep that curling iron on at 400 degrees all day.

However, it’s different with the Bachelorette, who has an on-set makeup artist to help her with every big appearance.  And concerning JoJo, I’ve admittedly really liked her hair and makeup all season.  I do wish she would get a little more creative beyond the Victoria’s Secret mermaid waves she sticks to, but it sure never looks bad.

So, how exactly does one go about looking like a proper Bachelorette?  What does JoJo use?  And how about any tips from former Bachelor contestants?  You’ve gotta admit that the insane glamapalooza of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise is quite riveting, and it all makes you want to try a little bit harder for your everyday rose ceremony … er … day at the office.

1. JoJo does the ever-popular “Hot Tools 1.25 inch curling rod + Oribe Dry Texture spray = pretty waves” routine with her hair.  This routine has been described so many times in the hundreds of magazines I’ve read (including on instyle.com, where JoJo was interviewed).  This is even what I typically do with my own hair when I want to really “do” it (though JoJo’s hair manages to look ten billion times more professional than mine). If you’re still looking for a tool and a product to give you the waves you’ve desired, this should all tell you something.  It works.

I think JoJo probably uses the clamp on the curling iron while I avoid it.  Whereas I like a more languid, who-cares look by wrapping sections of hair around the iron with your fingers, actually using the clamp will yield a slightly more polished feel.  I think JoJo probably does the latter.  However, a nice dose of Oribe’s Dry Texture Spray will always do a good job of breaking things up and keeping anything from looking too precious.  I can’t tell you how many celebs have mentioned this product in interviews: Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, I could go on forever, baby!  And that’s to say nothing of the artists that use it (read: all of them).  I love the slight, tousled grit that this stuff gives your hair, with the addition of volume, a bit of oil absorption, and an amazing fragrance.  JoJo also uses a combo of Oribe shampoo and conditioner.

2. For Bachelor contestants, items or services that normally seem over-the-top for everyday life are non-negotiables for the show.  Imagine if you knew you were going to have no access to beauty services for at least a month or so, but you still had to look glamorous everyday.  Oh, and you’re going to be on camera.  Oh, and chances are you’re going to cry on camera, too.  What would you do?  Here are a few ideas: spray tans, eyelash extensions, Zoom whitening (with Crest WhiteStrips stocked up at the house), and Temptu airbrush makeup.  And I’m sure if this show had been around decades ago, they all would’ve been wearing chinstraps at night too.  Anything that’s going to have a long-lasting effect is a must.  Erica Rose, a season 9 contestant, mentioned eyelash extensions and airbrush makeup in an interview with with Allure magazine, and Courtney Robertson of season 16 and Catherine Giudici-Lowe mentioned WhiteStrips.  Additionally, JoJo mentions occasionally using clip-in extensions to help with volume, especially during rose ceremonies.

Interestingly enough, one thing many of the Bachelor contestants seem to avoid are acrylic or gel nails according to the aforementioned Allure article.  Sure, they last for a couple weeks or more, but if and when they chip, there’s nothing you can do about it.  Only professionals can manage such horrors, and since you can’t leave the mansion you’re stuck in, your nails are stuck too.

3.  JoJo’s routine for her makeup each day on the show was intense.  As in, four-full-paragraphs intense.  Like I said earlier, the Bachelorette gets to work with a makeup artist once a day- Gina Modica, who’s been a mainstay on the show.  Many of the following products used have been her go-to’s for multiple Bachelorettes, with minor variations on color products and the like.

According to an article for The Daily Mail, Modica starts JoJo’s routine with good skincare, including Glycelene’s Rejuvenation Cream, Beauty Serum, and Opalescent Eye Serum.  Another article tells us that JoJo layers Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster underneath her makeup for sun protection.  Modica, like many of the Bachelor contestants doing their own makeup, prefers using Temptu Air S/B Foundation for its long-wearing properties (and I can attest that this is a commonly requested product for bridal makeup), and she also uses the brand’s airbrush bronzer on JoJo.

According to an article on Flare.com, JoJo loves contour (shocker) and Modica uses NARS The Multiple in South Beach to achieve something subtle (and keep in mind that this is on top of bronzer). For highlighting, she used the ever-popular Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Creme in Champagne Pop in just a couple select places.  To set face makeup and to help with undereye circles, Modica cites Gorgeous Cosmetics Concealer in Medium (a brand I’d never heard of) and MAC’s Blot Powder in Medium Dark.  However, the Daily Mail article has Modica preferring Besame French Vanilla Brightening Powder for these purposes.  This was an interesting mention to me, as I usually see Besame cosmetics vetted by girls who fancy themselves as pinup, retro-ish types.  I’ve only ever seen Besame sold online or in vintage stores and I’ve never seen a non-victory-roll-wearing type of girl mention it, so it’s cool to see it used by a mainstream artist on a really mainstream show.  That means the stuff is legit and isn’t just loved for its cute, retro packaging.

For eyes, Modica credits Stila’s Stay All Day Brow Gel (and if it’s got any of the staying power of their liquid lipsticks, it works) and MAC’s Paint Pots in the Daily Mail article.  I can attest to the goodness of the Paint Pots; they make a great shadow primer or can be worn alone for something natural.  She also praises Chanel eyeliners and mascara in another article whose source I can’t remember.  To seal everything in (a priority, since we’re up against humid, tropical escapes and lots of tears here), Modica uses MakeUpForEver Aqua Seal Liquid Converter.  I wouldn’t even begin to know how this stuff works.

For lips, she recommends the following: Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro, Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Lacquer, Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick (which I actually think lacks great staying power), and MAC Velvetease Lip Pencils.  I’m surprised that none of the typical cement-lock liquid lipsticks were mentioned such as Stila’s Stay All Day or Kat Von D’s Everlasting for their all-day effect (though the Armani Ecstasy is supposed to be in that ballpark), but then again, shine on the lips is always more flattering, romantic, and camera-friendly than a matte finish.  I think we can also agree that matte liquid lipsticks just aren’t that comfortable, and they aren’t super kissable either.  And we can’t be having that since the priority here is making out on the daily with a harem of men.

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So to summarize, JoJo’s routine for the show each day was basically more than what I typically do for brides on their wedding day.  Totally real life, guys!

4.  It’s easy to find a lot of former contestants’ favorite beauty products because a LOT of them are now bloggers.  Pastels, lots of feminine typography, picture perfect families, the assumption that you most certainly will want to shop what they’re wearing- you know the drill.  And if they’re not a blogger, they’re building a decent following on Instagram and spilling a beauty detail or two there.

The following former Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants all have blogs now that feature multiple beauty posts: Jillian Harris, Ali Fedotowsky, Emily Maynard, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and Desiree Hartsock.  And this doesn’t include any of the lesser-known contestants that were let go of earlier in their seasons.  Longtime favorite and original Bachelorette Trista Rehn Sutter also has a website dedicated to her designs, her family, and a variety of other things beyond her own content.  Knowing what I like though, you can guess that I’m most excited about something like Emily’s all-time fave perfumes (V&R Flowerbomb, Kai, Tom Ford Black Orchid, etc) or Ali’s go-to foundation (Smashbox BB Water), even though I really know nothing about them and never even watched their seasons.

5.  I tried to replicate a similar look to JoJo’s more casual makeup, and here’s how it turned out.

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To some this may still look fairly natural, but trust me, I’m wearing a lot of makeup.  I’m wearing a really good mattifying toner as a base for my makeup (Sunday Riley’s Martian) and I went with heaviest hitter in the foundation department – Lancome’s Teint Idole Stick Foundation, buffed out with a BeautyBlender.  I kinda dorked around with everything else- Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette for brightening powder and contouring, bronzer on top of all that, a rosy blush by Becca, still more highlighting with a NARS cream shadow, and NARS Creamy Radiance concealer for the undereye area.

I actually don’t have any neutral cream shadows at the moment (something that may need fixing?), so I used some shimmering browns from my Dior Earth Reflections palette. I don’t see much color on JoJo’s lower lids for date days (though I could be totally wrong), so I refrained. However, I applied lots of topliner, lots of mascara, and false eyelashes. Eyebrows are filled in with a pomade and set with Glossier Boy Brow (which is actually my norm these days). Lips are just like JoJo’s – Too Face Melted in Chihuahua, with a little extra shimmery gloss on the center of each lip. I’m going to try and leave this on all day to see if it actually lasts the way Modica believes, but I honestly feel like I’m wearing five layers of frosting on my lips.  They seriously feel sweaty, and it’s gross.  Oh well.  It’s for science.  And yes there is a filter on this picture.  You don’t really want to see the results of me quickly trying to contour my face without a filter.

I wondered what was so off about my overall appearance compared to JoJo’s aside from the obvious “she looks like her, I look like me” factor, and then I realized- she’s very tan.  And I, even in the dead of summer here, I am very much not.  Here, a very tan, very glamorous JoJo similar to what we’d find at a rose ceremony.

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I’ve really enjoyed the platform for beauty that the Bachelor franchise has created.  I never can turn down a chance to explore the daily hair and makeup routines of women, but I will admit that the diversity of those women (and men) has largely remained an awkward point of conversation throughout the Bachelor’s existence.  Producers claim that the castings are based on the preferences of the season’s lead, and so if the lead states a preference for something like “tall, brunette guys with the personality of a banana” like we’re seeing this season, then apparently that’s the majority of what we’ll be seeing.

Still, I can’t help but think that it says something when we look at the fact that a nonwhite contestant has never made it to the final two (or even four, really?) on either show, and that a nonwhite person has only been cast once as the lead on either show (and who am I talking about, you ask?  Juan Pablo- he is Venezuelan).  In fact, two black men who tried out for The Bachelor attempted lawsuit with the claim that producers of the show bar people of color from ever receiving the primary roles, if even that.  The charges of racial discrimination were dismissed.

All this to say, race is just one of the issues that has plagued the phenomenon that is the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the (many) factors that has kept me from being a true fan and consistent watcher.  When we’re down to the final four and I can scarcely … and I mean scarcely … tell the guys apart, I’m kinda over it.  So, we’ll see what happens with next seasons, but for now, I’ll just be enjoying the Bachelor’s history for its plethora of great lipstick and hair choices.  And as far as this season goes, I’ll guess I’ll root for the tall brunette guy.  xo, MR

Photo Credits: First picture to JoJo Fletcher’s Instagram – @joelle_fletcher; fourth picture to Lester Cohen/Getty

Boy Brow? Oh Boy!

It’s no mystery that I love famed beauty blog Into The Gloss.

I was lead to discover it one day as I read an interview with Derek Lam in Allure magazine; he suggested it as a beautifully curated beauty blog from an insider perspective (that of beauty editor Emily Weiss).  I was in a classroom when I first searched the blog; I remember exactly what computer I was on.  At the time I’d been reading junky, more celebrity focused blogs here and there, but that deep craving for real product knowledge and in-depth discussion over the nitty gritty stuff in beauty wasn’t really satisfied by such content.  I also loved seeing what other people used in makeup and hair, but I didn’t have much of a broad platform for these discussions other than my friends and magazines.  I loved going through other people’s makeup bags and medicine cabinets (still do!) to see what they used; finding a fancy bottle of shampoo behind someone’s shower curtain is like finding hidden treasure!  And yes, that’s me sneaking behind your shower curtain like Norman Bates’ mom so leave out all your good stuff for me to see and play with.

Anyhow, Into The Gloss, and particularly their interview features, successfully scratched this itch that I’d apparently been dealing with and it had me addicted around February of 2011.  The site seemed to clarify my perspective and ideas about beauty and the specific things I love about it.  For instance, not liking makeup for the sake of makeup, but enjoying it (and shampoos and perfumes and facewash) for the environment it creates and the ability you have to curate your own special little collection.  It’s like an expression of your identity- the eyeliner you like to wear, the way you like to wear it, when you choose to wear it.  ITG felt like it had more philosophy and nuance behind it than blind allegiance to a certain look or brand; more discussion and just plain sharing than crazy video tutorials.  ITG also played a large part in building my confidence in going makeup-free.  I came to see that your bare, well-treated skin could be just as great a luxury as a rich, smoked-out eye.

So when Emily announced the birth and creation of a beauty line in late 2014 based on ITG philosophies and the desires of their readers, I admit that I reacted in a somewhat possessive manner.  No!  No no no.  The blog had gotten too big and too well-known already since I’d begun reading; it was no longer my special little secret and now there’s a product line coming out?  Too much!  Can’t handle it.  I basically hipstered out on the whole thing for a while.

But the line- named Glossier (say glossy-YAY)- is just so beautiful and is marketed just so well.  You cannot help but be impressed by the entire experience that Glossier gives its customer.  The packaging and social media interactions are unique and adorable, down to the very cardboard box your shipment arrives in and the emojis they use that come as stickers with your order.  Their “skin is in” philosophy comes through loud and clear with products like the Skin-Perfecting Tint that seeks to just keep your complexion even and glowing in a way that doesn’t cover up or even “make up” your face.

Glossier has a vision that feels clean, fresh, and also very French (which you know I love).  The focus is on items like masks, face mists, and balms, like a no-nonsense-but-somehow-still-indulgent spa day for your face.  You can tell how much careful thought and editing went into this line, with my favorite example being the trademark shade of “Glossier pink” on all their packaging which reminds me of that pink door in Palm Springs.  In fact, that’s what all of Glossier reminds me of- Palm Springs.  Modern, luxurious, and yet still a little raw thanks to it’s natural environment.

I just can’t help but applaud the whole innovation of Glossier, even if I am feeling a bit jealous of how popular and awesome they’ve become and how everyone now knows it and wants to have them in their medicine cabinet.

Today, however, I am celebrating Glossier’s newest addition to its line, and it’s their very first color product.  This is Boy Brow!

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I knew a color product was on its way from the line, but when I discovered that it was a brow product, I might have done a mid-air heel click.  Brows are having their moment, and I feel like we’re all looking for that one product (ideally not two or three or four) that takes care of the whole picture.  As shown in my post from just a few weeks ago, I sometimes use up to four products at once on my brows (dry brush, two pencils, and gel), and that’s not counting tweezers and any browbone highlighting I choose to do.  Even my CK One product that I love so much still has two steps to it.

So when Glossier announced Boy Brow as “brows goals achieved” in one step, I was skeptical.  If it was to be an all-in-one, this meant the following needed to be true: the brush would need to be strong enough to brush brows into your desired shape without leaving too much product behind, the formula pigmentation would need to be concentrated enough to not need more filling in with some other product, the formula would need to leave a nice finish with some shine, and the formula would need to last without being stiff.

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I purchased Boy Brow in black because I perceived the brown to possibly be too auburn/red for my brows.  I received it yesterday, and …

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BOY BROW!

To have my brows look the way I want with just a couple literal strokes of a wand is pretty dreamy.  The wax formula is inspired by traditional hair pomade with beeswax and canauba wax, which makes sense since guys typically use a creamy but tough pomade when they want their hair to stay in place; why not the same for brows?  The formula also lasts all day, as in I’m looking at myself hours later as I write this and my brows haven’t moved.  However, Boy Brow doesn’t stiffen in the way that one other product I use does.  I enjoy this other formula-that-shall-remain-nameless for its shine qualities, but it can leave my brows very stiff and you can feel the gel stretching when you make expressions with your face.  Not so with Boy Brow.

Application was a cinch.  A couple tiny, gentle strokes with the tiny, gentle brush delivered enough pigment to my brows without leaving clumps of goop behind, and my brows were given a thicker, more full appearance which meant no need for extra filling in with a pencil.  The finish has a slight shine to it without looking wet, and the small, tapered brush separates every hair.

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After using Boy Brow with completely successful results for the past two days, I’ve placed this puppy on my bathroom counter, where I try to leave the products I don’t want to leave home without applying first.  If it’s going to be that simple, why not keep this out where it’s always handy?

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Boy Brow comes in three shades, and I’ve left no filter on the first selfie above so you can see how the black shade matches my brows spot-on.  I’m sure there’s a Boy Brow match for you, too.  To shop Boy Brow or to browse more of their awesome products, go to Glossier here.  Thanks for the fun, Glossier!  xo, MR

Magazines: The Good, the Bad, and the (Rarely) Ugly

So, magazines, right?  I mean, some people are way into them, and other people consider nearly every one on the newsstands to be pure garbage.  Let’s cut to the chase- I love them.  Not all of them, and not all of them equally, but for those that I do love, I am fiercely loyal.  And I specifically love print magazines.  None of this newfangled download-it-to-your-iPad nonsense.  No.  No way.  It’s the freshly-pressed pages of a glossy in your hands, or nothing.  Of course, I do blogs, and while I understand that those are frequently referred to as “online magazines”, you’re kept at the nice pace of about one or two new articles a day .  A blog doesn’t bombard you with hundreds of pages per month, complete with ads, with the expectation that you click or scroll through all of them on a screen, in one sitting.  No, that kind of reading commitment is saved for the glossies, as it should be.

So which ones do I read?  Well, a lot.  I’ve only subscribed to a couple in my lifetime because I’ve found subscription services to be somewhat untrustworthy, but boy let me tell you that buying mags off the stands is a real money pit, especially when you buy multiple titles every month like me.  But that’s just the price you pay (literally) for the fun.  And I will say that for about one week each month, I go into a sort of frenzy trying to uncover the coming month’s cover stars, and I then go on a week-long hunt trying to locate each beloved mag as soon as possible (and here’s a pro tip:  Wal-Mart is the first to get the newest issues, usually about two days before they’re scheduled to “hit the stands”).  And once I’ve obtained all my desired issues for the month, I’ll admit that I go through a sort of let-down phase for a couple days where I cope with the reality that there won’t be any new magazines for at least three weeks.  A whole three weeks.  Yes, it’s that bad, and yes, it makes time fly super fast (because think about it, when you’re holding the March issue in your hands on February 13th, YOU’RE BASICALLY LIVING IN THE FUTURE).

So which ones do I read?  Oh wait, that was the question I meant to answer in the last paragraph.  Welp.

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More than just these pictured here.

But let me provide you with a brief (sure, uh huh) discussion of the magazines that I’ve interacted with in my short lifetime.  I haven’t dealt with 100% of the ones you see on newsstands (for instance, hipster mags such as Foam and Vice remain a relatively untouched territory for me … can’t deal with the heavily-filtered pretentiousness … and YES, I judge them as pretentious).

Marie Claire:  This magazine is for the Power Woman.  It encourages and assumes workplace success, frequently discusses the advancements, plights, and contributions of women around the world, and seems most fit for the “independent woman”.  I absolutely adore the publication’s fashion and beauty features, but Marie Claire can also be quite politically charged and favors discussion of hot-button social issues.  When I read magazines, I honestly don’t have much interest in this type of subject matter.  I mean this not in the sense that I prefer to remain ignorant (which my friends and family hardly allow me), but it’s simply not relaxing or entertaining for me personally.  I will also be honest and say that the writers often assume a consistent political point of view, and if you don’t find yourself in the same frame of mind it can feel a bit like the journalist’s equivalent of “You can’t sit with us!“.  But that’s life, and at least the content seeks to be informative and educational.  I can hardly resist the magazine’s beauty sections, anyhow.  I have a strange affinity for beauty product still-life shots, and Marie Claire always seems to have some of the best.  So, sometimes I pick a copy of MC, and sometimes I don’t.  But either way, it’s pretty quality.

Lucky:  You might recall a very old post of mine in which I veritably bashed Lucky magazine a year-and-a-half ago.  I had become extremely frustrated with the publication for its awkward attempts at being relatable, its trend-slave taste (do beware that this magazine is about shopping and really nothing else), and its drone-like tone as it insisted that flash-in-the-pan items like gold lame’ jeans are an “OMG MUST HAVE”.  I’d also been unimpressed with its inability to stay on the cutting edge with its covers, which had become sort of predictable and boring, and lacking in anything that really set them apart.

However, the replacement of Brandon Holley with Eva Chen as the new EIC this past September has brought a sort of uptick in the quality of Lucky.  Chen (with the formidable Anna Wintour right by her side as the Conde Nast creative director) has overseen a new batch of better styled and more luxe-looking covers with photographers like Patrick Demarchelier, a more aspirational price range (read: higher prices means a richer, more desirable feel for the magazine), and a little more substance over just plain salesmanship in content.  I will admit that Kerry Washington’s December cover had to be one of the worst cover shots I’ve ever seen (it seriously does the Scandal beauty absolutely no justice), but I will admit that I’ve seen large improvements in Lucky since Chen has taken the helm.  Lucky is still all about shopping, still draws heavily on a street style aesthetic (so if you do the street fashion thing on Pinterest, it’s totally your gig), and it still sometimes feels like it’s talking a little too much more than showing, but I have to admit that I’ve purchased nearly every issue since this past September.  I give this one a thumbs-up and say it’s now worth a try.

Allure:  I love Allure.  I love love love love Allure.  I actually subscribed to this magazine in high school, clearly demonstrating the beauty department to be my first love. The entire magazine is dedicated to all things beauty, which is seriously my dream.  Whole articles are dedicated to discussing and illustrating breakthroughs in hair mousse, “romantic makeup”, the latest trends in braids, how to find the really quality stuff at a drugstore, the best Oscar hair-do’s of the past ten years, false lashes, or the newest research in sunscreen and skin protection.  Whole articles for this stuff!  And don’t even get me started on their annual “Best of Beauty” issue … I just gobble that stuff right up.  There are little bits of fashion features sprinkled throughout so you get just enough of that, but give me a four- or five-page feature on eyeliner, and I’m good for life.

The one downside to Allure is its focus on the aspects of the beauty department that are sometimes not as interesting, such as lasers, peels, and the latest procedures beneath the knife.  There’s a lot of plastic surgery and weight loss discussion, and with all the talk about the procedures that can lead us to supposed “perfection”, it can sometimes feel awkward and disingenuous when reading the article on how to play up your own “unique” features on the very next page.  I’ve had no problem just tearing out pages I don’t want to read, though.  Aside from the some of the bodycentric stuff, Allure‘s a keeper.

Vogue:  Let me confess that I’ve purchased maybe three issues of Vogue in my lifetime.  It’s honestly just beyond my realm of living.  Oh sure, there’s fashion aplenty, but its also a lifestyle magazine with the the assumption that you’re part of a privileged crowd with the ways and means of living the life that’s discussed in Vogue.  There’s discussion of high society, politics, the arts, the media, and all kinds of other perfectly good things, but I just don’t feel at home reading Vogue.  And with my budget, I don’t think I’m meant to, either.  And that’s okay!  I’ll read it for the celebrity cover stories and glorious fashion spreads (which can be done in the grocery line), but I tend to leave the rest.  However, it is still maintains its eternal reputation (and in spite of anything I have to say) as “the fashion bible”.  Vogue remains queen, and though I don’t have much interaction with her, I respect her.

Elle:   I occasionally pick up a copy of this magazine depending on how meaty the beauty section looks, but I’ve always sort of felt like Elle was the younger, sexier sister of the older, more sophisticated Vogue (though they’re in competition with one another).  The brand itself is huge globally, with around 40 international editions in over 60 countries and it supposedly being the world’s “biggest” fashion publication (probably meaning it has the most editions around the world compared to any other).  This publication has had some of my favorite cover shots ever, and that alone has at times been enough to convince me to purchase an issue.  Elle is a lifestyle magazine, so it will speak into many areas, like Vogue, including politics, the arts, and entertainment along with a primary focus on fashion.  I like Elle a lot, but I think it’s also just a bit overwhelming for me.  I just find myself sorting through so many other sections until I get to the fashion and beauty that it’s just a sad waste of paper to purchase  more than about three issues a year, personally.

Harper’s Bazaar:  If you’re looking for a quality education in the world of high fashion without all the extra lifestyle features of Vogue or Elle, Harper’s Bazaar should serve you well.  In my opinion, it’s for the die-hards who just want to talk about the clothes and the shows.  Of course, it can feel a bit highbrow, but I feel the publication does such a good job at just showcasing as much clothing and design as possible that I rarely feel overwhelmed or annoyed by any highfalutin discussion of the who’s-who on the Upper East Side.  Harper’s Bazaar has truly been my guide to the trenches of the fashion world.  It’s been my textbook for names, history, superior trend forecasting, and the collections of the season.  If you’re truly passionate about the world of fashion with a desire to understand every cog in the machine, I recommend Bazaar for you.

People StyleWatch:  Consider this the junk food of fashion publications, the anti-Vogue, and I mean that in the best way possible.  People StyleWatch is delicious, it serves its purpose quickly, and it doesn’t bother with heavy text.  It’s like fashion training wheels, and it’s for anyone who’s ever cried JUST TELL ME WHAT TO WEAR, WHERE TO BUY IT, AND HOW MUCH IT’LL COST.  This magazine’s concept is seriously that simple.  It’s almost entirely based on celebrity style, and often demonstrates how to replicate a star’s expensive look for a fraction of the cost, down to the very accessories on their hands.  I’ve been a faithful reader of this publication since 2006, and it’s honestly just good clean fun.  I’ll admit that it can inspire quite the frantic shopping spree (and seriously, do be careful if you have spending issues because this magazine lists the price and location of every item featured on its pages, making it very addictive), but there’s no condescending advice, there’s an extremely generous budget range (like, the $50-and-under crowd are highly welcome here), and it showcases nothing but pictures, pictures, pictures.  My passion for clothing came to life with this magazine, and I have it to thank for starting me down a path toward my own, personal style.

Glamour/Cosmopolitan:  Really not a fan.  Like, really not.  Any magazine that focuses so heavy-handedly on “how to tell if he’s really into you” or “100 Sex moves that will send him into the stratosphere” deserves a minuscule amount of attention.  Oh, you say there really isn’t that much sex and relationship content in these magazines as it may appear on the cover?  THEN STOP SPLASHING IT ALL OVER YOUR COVERS  AS THE NUMBER ONE HEADLINE.  I’ll also be honest and say that a lot of the “advice” given in such features can be fairly objectifying of women (which is just so funny considering we’re the ones reading it), ridiculously repetitive, and horribly misleading and inaccurate.  But seriously, no truly insightful advice on such important things as your friendships and relationships is to be gained from one page of a magazine with some photoshopped version of Miley Cyrus on the cover (and yes, I’ll backpedal and state that all magazines are guilty of digitally retouching their covers).  I mean it!  Now, the fashion and beauty features in these publications can be fun, I’m sure.  But why not just pick up a magazine devoted entirely to those things and bypass the “Impress your dude” junk completely?

InStyle:  If I could only recommend one fashion publication to all women of any age, size, or income, this would be it.  InStyle is my favorite magazine.  If you enjoy fawning over the latest gorgeous dress worn by Cate Blanchett, this is for you.  If you want to know the best kinds of shapewear for your own size, this is for you.  If you aren’t sure how to incorporate more exciting color into your wardrobe or in makeup, this is for you.  If you like keeping up on the latest runway shows, this is for you.  There is nothing discussed in the magazine other than fashion, beauty, personal style, and a bit of home decor with a couple recipes thrown in.  I find it to be the most universally appealing publication of any that I’ve mentioned above.  There’s no specific income or social bracket targeted (so you’ll see both budget and luxe pieces featured all over), and InStyle seems to stick to the philosophy that style is something that anyone can have, develop, and enjoy, without trying to hold your hand too much.

This magazine is helpful.  There are so many features dedicated to showing you exactly how to find, wear, or try something new that you find yourself interacting with the issue on top of just reading it.  InStyle has inspired me to take action with my own style countless times, and I can’t name how many different beauty tricks or trends I’ve tried because of it (i.e. orange lips, victory rolls, an at-home blowout, the “wet” look, you name it!).  If you go for just one fashion publication, choose this one.  And I’ll also mention that I’ve been a subscriber for over three years and the service there has been great.

So in conclusion, I write all this not so much with the intent that you’ll like which magazines I like (because that would be stupid), but simply because I like talking about them.  I’ve often said that if I could do my education over again (or for a second time?), I’d get a degree in journalism, intern for a magazine somewhere, and would pursue a career at a fashion publication.  Because yes, I love doing makeup (and fashion, which we refrain from fully discussing here), and I love playing with makeup, but I really love talking about it more than anything.  And that’s what magazines are for, right?  xo, MR

P.S.  A quick word about advertisements: I’ve sometimes heard folks complain about how many advertisements there are in magazines (especially the larger ones, like Elle and Vogue).  Do you know why those ads are there?  It’s not simply page-filler that the editors have chosen to scatter on every other page to annoy you.  Magazines are actually paid by all varieties of companies to have their advertisements placed in them.  This is a large portion of a publication’s  profit (and customer subscriptions and newsstands sales are actually a lesser portion).  So, a thick issue full of advertisements is actually thee sign that a magazine is doing quite well.  When you see all those Chanel, Revlon, H. Stern, and Vince Camuto advertisements and you keep having to flip your way through like a maniac to get to the meat, just know that they are a big reason why the magazine in your hand is circulating in the first place.

My eyelids look exactly like Kate’s eyelids.

Ever see red carpet makeup, or makeup in a movie, or makeup on a magazine cover and you think, “Hmm, I’ll bet I could do that”? And do you ever get even more excited when you’re able to find out what products were used on the look? That’s like striking gold for me. A lot of times websites or magazines will simply suggest items that they claim will “recreate” the look, but they won’t list the exact products. This always left me feeling a little cheated. I mean, come on! If it’s good enough for fill–in-the-blank-celebrity-name, it’s good enough for me … right? So anyhow, when I’m able to dig up the exact products used for whatever look it is that I’m loving, I know I’m that much closer to really looking like Jennifer Aniston. Uh huh.

Just kidding. I don’t really want to look like Jennifer Aniston.

But I did find myself quite enamored with this beautiful shot of Kate Beckinsale as the August cover girl of Allure magazine. She’s been on the cover for this magazine more than a couple times, but hey, why not?

Allure always features a page in every issue that gives the details on their cover shoot, including the makeup that was used. Now, to be honest, I’m still not sure if the products referenced are the real goods used for the shoot. They may still have me fooled after almost ten years of reading this magazine (yes, ten). But I decided to make a run down to my drugstore and try out the eyeshadow they referenced because it looked easy, gorgeous and it was cheap. And I try not to buy drugstore makeup too frequently, however tempting it may be. The suspect- L’Oreal 24HR. Infallible eyeshadow in “Bottomless Java”.

We’ve all got a million brown eyeshadows (especially if you have brown eyes like me), but I’d really recommend this one for your “best bargain” category no matter what eye color you’ve got. The color is incredibly rich without too much fall-out, it builds well, and is highly pigmented. While it’s decidedly neutral (I mean, it is brown), a couple layers of the stuff make for quite the smoky eye.

While I don’t quite look like Kate Beckinsale post-shadow application, I’d say it’s a pretty good match to the shade observed on her cover look. Hopefully this means Allure really is giving their most accurate information and we can all have Kate’s eyelids together. xo, MR