Party Season Looks You Haven’t Tried

I thought I’d committed to a once-a-month post, but turns out I literally couldn’t get through party season without a round-up of some current favorite going-out looks. And beings that this week I’m running the holiday party gauntlet (and you may be too), it’s the perfect opportunity to share some serious get-ready inspo. Bring on all the color, glitter, and texture!

If you’re craving a retro moment …

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While the Gucci gown is really what keeps this look centered on the 1960s (and of course we’d all love to wear it to our next party), Dakota Johnson’s hair and makeup here are the perfect inspiration for a retro beauty look. She’s probably got some extensions going on to beef up her ponytail; the outcome is glorious and something I aspire to in all my retro lounge dreams. The smokey cat-eye paired with a bare lip is textbook, as well. Hair by Mark Townsend, makeup by Mélanie Inglessis.

If you’re tired of eyeshadow but don’t want a lip-forward look …

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This look on model Woan Ni was created by Kara Yoshimoto Bua using Shiseido’s newly revamped makeup line. White eyeliner was never a look I cared for much, but I think it’s because I’ve never seen it balanced out well with the rest of the face. This look is so beautifully balanced with a good brow, a shimmery, rosy cheek and a stained, blurry lip. So natural but still so party ready, right?

If you’re feeling classic Christmas but, like, extra …

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Oh, snap! Like, Merry Christmas Batman right?!? And of course, it’s Pati Dubroff (THEE queen makeup artist) for Margot Robbie on her way to the UK premiere of Mary Queen of Scots. The Pati-Margot duo was already blowing me away last year during awards season for I, Tonya and Margot’s premiere looks for Goodbye Christopher Robin. I love just the pat of glitter on the center of the lids- so modern. Pati hasn’t listed what she used yet so everyone’s guess is as good as mine, but who cares?! Go crazy! Use whatever! Recreate your own version.

If you want to focus all your energy on makeup and just get hair over with …

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Over at IntoTheGloss, Tom Newton took some fabulous photos of EmRata featuring some quick, lovely updos by Jennifer Yepez. This one using a claw clip was my favorite; a curly/kinky version would be workable and just as romantic, if not more so. As told on ITG: “Start with a middle part. Leave a few pieces out in the front, and gather the rest into a low bun, leaving the ends out for a more modern feel. Clasp it with your clip and bobby pin as needed to prevent strays from popping out. And then make sure it stays in place all night by giving it a healthy spritz of hairspray (Jennifer used Laque Couture). If you have curls, don’t worry about straightening all of your hair. Just focus on the front pieces by blow drying them straight, followed by a quick run with a flat iron.”

If you’re still bored …

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Don’t let boredom or lack of creativity force that red lip on you (or at least, a red lip with no other interesting details)! What’s a color you’d never associate with this time of year? Got an idea in your head? Good, now find a way to wear it! Or take Katie Jane Hughes’ countless colorful, glossy, glittery looks as a treasure trove of inspo, including this stunning lavender glossed lid. This is literally lip gloss (or anywhere gloss, really) on top of eyeshadow. And how do you keep it from creasing, you ask? You don’t! That’s part of the fun. It creases; just let it. Reapply if you want but enough with the set-in-stone, gotta-last-48-hours makeup. Let texture and skin be the real showstoppers.

If you’re still stumped on the hair question …

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Space buns! Like it’s 2002! I mean, how good is this? And people just don’t really do this anymore so it’s like the cutest Spice Girls throwback and a guaranteed conversation starter. The face framing pieces on Constance provide perfect balance, but I think you could even get away without them. And bonus: this look can probably be pulled off with any hair texture. Hair by Molly Greenwald.

If you’re sick of sequined sweaters …

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This whole shoot of Taraji P. Henson for the latest issue of InStyle is genius. Rip a literal page out of this mag (on newsstands now) and go with a direct Mary Tyler Moore reference for your party outfits. Short jumpers, miniskirts, graphic prints, power suits, flared pants, silk neckties- Moore’s playbook provides the right amount of inspiration for both dressing sharp and using color creatively. Because the holidays deserve so much more than just red and black sparkly sweaters.

xo, MR

All images are screenshots from Instagram except for the image from IntoTheGloss, taken by Tom Newton. In order of appearance: @melaniemakeup, @woanster, @patidubroff, Tom Newton, @katiejanehughes, @constancewu, @instylemagazine

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What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.

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Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.

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I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.

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BANGS

Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.

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What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.

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For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR

Brow Game Strong

Back in high school, I noticed this one girl, who had always been very pretty, suddenly beginning to look much more adult than the rest of us.  I couldn’t put my finger on what had happened.  And it wasn’t anything owed to physical development of the body; it was something different about her face.  Her hair was perhaps getting lighter, but that just didn’t account for all of it.  It was something in the expressiveness of her face that had suddenly become more mature and couldn’t be found on my own face.

I remember when I realized that it was the fact that she was now penciling in and defining her eyebrows that had caused this noticeable change.  When I think about it, she didn’t really have standout eyebrows before (light blonde), and now they were squared off with a very angular arch, colored in with a chestnut-blonde pencil that was a couple shades darker than her hair color.  It gave a very harsh effect in hindsight that I would never attempt to repeat, but I think that was the first time when I realized how powerful eyebrows can be.  They are very easy to ignore, but it is truly amazing how much of a beautiful impact they can have on your look when you pay just a little attention to them (or, well, the right kind of attention I guess).

My mom began urging me to leave me own eyebrows alone around the same time I noticed this other girl’s.  At that point, the trend was still to pluck them nearly out of existence and/or replace them with dark, harsh pencil lines, and it had been so all through the preceding decade.  Natural brows circa 2003 were considered sort of weird.  If you manage to find a picture of the Spice Girls, Drew Barrymore back in her younger years, and even Angelina Jolie around the same time, you’ll see that eyebrows were not recognized as the crowning glory of the face as many now see them.  Women like Brooke Shields and Jennifer Connelly (who I am eternally and forever obsessed with) were considered sort of fringe-y and almost avant-garde for letting their brows remain strong and full (and not always in the best way).  I remember my mom referencing Brooke Shields when encouraging me to leave my eyebrows alone, and though I didn’t yet have a grid for “different” being a good thing at that point, I listened to her.  I thought maybe my eyebrows could be something special.

I probably did not pluck a single hair from my brows (save for the little rogues that tried to make their way out into No Man’s Land) until I was 22 or 23.  At that point I began seeing the benefits of plucking one or two hairs that had come down just a tad too far; this defined the shape of my brow and prevented them from becoming a chaotic mess.  I also began using my first product to fill them in a bit more and brush them into place- Anastasia’s Tinted Brow Gel in Espresso.  I used this on my wedding day.  I hadn’t thought of really paying much attention to enhance my eyebrows before all this.

And then it happened- Cara Delevingne happened.  One model, over the course of perhaps just one year, exploded within the fashion world and seemed to singlehandedly make full, bold brows cool again.  Brushing them up, and yes, making them darker but without sacrificing their texture (as in you want the hairs to be visible and not colored over) became acceptable rules to play by.  And suddenly, everyone who had ever plucked their brows to death in the 90’s and 2000’s was at a disadvantage.  I, however, rejoiced!  And seemingly overnight, bold, statement-making brows were everywhere in the celebrity world- Camilla Belle, Lilly Collins, Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, Megan Fox, and a million more.  Finally- a beauty trend that I really, really felt like I could relate to, and one that didn’t demand alterations of what was natural.  And it was finally okay to look like Joan Crawford again.

So what do I currently use?  If a wily hair ever manages to make itself just a bit too present, I reach for my Tweeezerman tweezers (and they are truly the most precise) and yank that sucker outta my life.  But not too much!  I limit myself to probably three choice hairs that don’t belong.  If I start hunting for more than that, I fear that things may get out of hand.  So in short- extremely limited plucking, like maybe once every 1-2 months.  I like how brows can almost take on a more masculine quality when you let them be.  For the most part, I try to let them do their thing.

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As for daily grooming, I often find that I won’t touch or brush my hair in the mornings, but I will tend to my brows.  At the very least, combing them up into place happens with a brow brush or a clear gel.  I once found myself using a plastic fork to brush them up at work when I failed to bring anything with me.  My most regularly used product is the CK One Color Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  The tapered pencil is easy to use and the spooly brush with gel is a cinch.  I’m on my third one of these currently.

When I have a couple extra minutes, I use Brett Brow’s Duo Shade Pencil in Medium Brunette.  I use the darker side on the inside half of my brows, carefully filling in the inner corners but without squaring them off (which scares me and looks a bit angry).  It’s important that my brows look shaded, soft, and natural, and not as if they were stenciled in.  It’s important to me that I still be able to see the individual hairs.  I probably use the most pencil around the arch area, which is just off from the center of my eye.  I then take the lighter shade and sketch a little more into the arch and then out (creating that so-called “ombre’d” brow effect).  I then use Brett Brow’s Arch Control Gel that comes with a dry blender brush.  I use the dry brush to blend in any sketched lines that are too harsh and visible, and then finally the gel to brush the brows up and in place, carefully tapering them off at the ends.  This particular gel leaves brows shiny, which I love.

If I’m really going the extra mile, I’ll take a creamy highlighter like the NYX Wonder Pencil and draw just a couple tiny dots beneath my brows, blending them in thoroughly.  This gives a lifting effect, and it highlights the brow bone in a very flattering way that opens up the eye area overall.  The highlighter-concealers that I discussed in this previous post are also excellent to use for this technique.

And that’s about as crazy as it gets.  I have never had my brows waxed, and their shape isn’t immaculate like much of what we see these days on Instagram, but I appreciate the low maintenance.  I’d rather put money or time into a hair appointment or a nice skincare item, but I’ve had a couple friends with very high maintenance eyebrows that they love to invest in and treat beautifully.  I remember InStyle magazine once describing high maintenance brows (think Camilla Belle status, possibly in need of frequent waxing appointments) as the “Celine luggage of brows”, referring to them as impeccably tailored and requiring the best of care.  I love that idea, but I myself have not been quite that blessed.  I guess the grass is always greener.

My next brow venture will probably involve attempting to trim my brow hairs (myself).  Anyone do this currently?  I’m curious to hear your experiences.  Peace, love, and brows for now!  xo, MR

The Problem With January Issues

And by issues, I mean magazines.  Or do I?

As you may know, I’m an avid reader of, like, ten gazillion magazines.  Well, maybe not quite that many, but I do subscribe to and purchase quite a good amount of glossies.  I like to talk about them, too, and I’ve often said that if I could go through my college education a second time I’d probably major in journalism with the goal of writing for some publication, whether online or in print.  I would write for magazines, and hopefully one day, a fashion publication.

I love fashion publications so much because they add flavor and color to the seasons.  There’s always something new to see or try, and there’s always something ahead to be excited about.  You see Amy Adams in a sparkly, sequined dress on a December cover and you just think CHRISTMAS- the gift guides (all under $500!), the “how to party without gaining a pound or losing a wink of sleep” nonsense, and all the articles on glittery makeup for grown-ups.  Or you see a tan, boho-waved Kate Hudson on a July cover and you feel like summer is finally here, with all its reviews of the latest sunblock innovations and tutorials on creative ways to braid your hair when it’s oily and disgusting.  I’ve mentioned it before, but the September and March issues tend to overwhelm me because they’re so large, and it feels like such a non-negotiable forecast on my style choices that I get panicky.  Isn’t that weird?  I feel such feelings of urgency and inadequacy when I read those issues that I need to go out and get those lug-soled heels right now before fall has past and I’m completely off trend and the season is over and I missed Fall Fashion Week and now it’s time for bathing suits and YOU’RE LATE BYE FELICIA.

No one else feel that way?  No one?  Whatever.

Now, January issues are different.  January issues I love.  Why?  Because the insanity and emotional roller coaster that is the holidays (or at least, that’s how it’s felt for the past few years in my case for a variety of reasons) is finally over, and it shows in the January issues, let me tell ya.  Celebrations, parties, and family get-togethers, while generally enjoyable, tend to come at a price.  There’s planning, there’s gift-buying, there’s people-pleasing, there’s Christmas-card-writing, there’s family-seeing, there’s dressing up, there’s anxiety, there’s so much shopping that you’re practically suffocating from all the perfume samples, and then there are just the general emotions of nostalgia, longing, and reflection that come with the season.  You feel weak.  You feel tired.  Maybe you even feel sad.  You feel desperate to finally get the holidays “right”.  You again need to be reminded for the billionth time of what Christmas really is and means, whether through a tearful viewing of “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” with your husband or the hymns you sing or the sermon you hear.  You’ve arrived at another year’s end and realized … again … that you’re barely hanging on to your humanity, and you’re weak.  And you’re tired.

But January issues.  January issues wipe all that away and seem to want the world for you.  The cover lines would have you believe that the world is your freaking oyster!

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Your Happiest Year!  Let’s Motivate!  The 2015 Change Your Life Guide!  31 Days To the Best You Ever!  Love Your Body!  

And no January issue ever seems to be longer than 100 pages … totally doable!

Every January issue is nothing short of devoted to empowerment, to starting over, to self-renewal.  And I do love it!  Whether at home, at work, in beauty, in health, or in love, January issues are all about pressing the reset button and creating entirely new goals with eardrum-bursting enthusiasm.  And this can’t be anything but good, right?  I mean, we should call this all great, right?!  Every page dedicated to mantras like “Do What You Love”, “Jump Start Your Career”, “Make Your Mark”, “New Year, New Do”.  After all the madness that was December, you just cannot wait to take those cover stories seriously and make this new year your happiest year.  Whether it’s that new haircut, that new workout plan, or that new travel goal, this new year should be your happiest year.

But a funny thing happened to me as I perused through all those January issues this past week, through all that encouragement, through all that self-motivation and those ceaseless chants of YES YOU CAN!

I felt even more anxiety than I had before.  I thought, as I read through those endless suggestions of how to be better, how I should do more of what I love, how I should go after what I deserve … I need to change.  I need to change right now.  This needs to be my happiest year!  It’s time to take charge.  It’s time to transform.  This has got to be MY YEAR.  It’s time to turn into a workout machine, or a simplified, organization boss who’s rid herself of all unnecessary possessions, or a mentally tough person who isn’t afraid, or the girl who at least does her hair really, really well all the time (and with the Instagram followers to prove it!).  I will finish writing that novel, I will travel more, I will stand up for myself, I will work for that butt I want, I will sprinkle chia on everything, I will treat myself more, and I will conquer my deepest fears!  It’s time to be happy, it’s time to love myself!  I need … to love … my self … NOW!

And suddenly, those feelings of urgency and inadequacy … there they are again.  And the September issues are still a whole seven months away.

I can’t help but believe that maybe an avalanche of “self-help” isn’t the whole answer to our stress and weaknesses, and that wiping the slate entirely won’t fix the problems that, well, can’t just be wiped away.  Don’t get me wrong- January issues really might be my favorite issues of the year.  I’m serious, I bought ALL the magazines.  However, I think I just want to speak to the people who see cover lines like “Your Happiest Year!”, and quietly worry to themselves “What if it’s not my happiest?”, or even “What if this one’s worse than the last?”; or those who know that a juice cleanse and new membership at the yoga studio can’t make the pain you felt in 2014 magically go away.  There are those that cannot even see the written expression “2015” on a magazine cover without perhaps being filled with a sense of dread and fear of the future, and I mean to speak to you.

And honestly, I want you to know that this is okay.  When you see Reese Witherspoon looking confident as all get-out with her words “I don’t do regret” on the cover of Glamour, it’s okay if you do feel the pang of regret and failure in your own life.  When you see Jennifer Lopez on the cover of Self, claiming “I’m facing my fears and working on myself”, don’t sink into despair if your fears still cripple you at times and you barely even know who your “self” is.

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“I want to prove I’m a superwoman” … you don’t have to be, and you are free from ever trying to prove such a thing.  “You have to live with an open heart all the time” … but if you struggle with vulnerability, don’t be discouraged.

What I also want you to know, however, is that you can still take heart and have joy.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not even look through a January issue.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not light that candle of hope, to not believe that with all the darkness 2015 may bring, that it won’t come without its own promises and healing.  And I mean this in the smaller sense, as well.  Buy those new yoga pants.  Sit down and start planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take, even if it’s just a drive to the next big city.  Come up with that new plan for tackling your “to do” list in the mornings at the office.  Stock up on blueberries, or find a new lipstick shade you love.  Try baking the cookies with the coconut flour.  And maybe even chop off your hair.  But give yourself grace, and don’t be afraid to feel the pain that so unavoidably comes with life, even if the world around you is telling you that this should be “your happiest year”.  2015 will not be a loss.

The kitchen “mini makeover” (that never feels so “mini” in the end) can wait if it has to, and it will come when it should.  So can the barre class, the social media account, and that amazing entrepreneurial idea of yours that’s going to change the world.  After all, the happiest years are yet to come.  You are enough for 2015.  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.

InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys of 2013 … and what I think of ’em.

So, May is one of my absolute favorite months for fashion magazines (I think I say that every month, right?) because this month tends to see the widest amount of beauty features in such publications.  People StyleWatch, Lucky, Marie Claire, and InStyle all proclaim their May issues as dedicated to beauty, and I’ll be honest- I’ll eye a magazine on the stand at a grocery store and I’ll quickly flip to the beauty section, and if it piques my interest in any way, I’ll buy it.  The beauty sections are always my favorite, teeming with hair how-to’s, reviews of new products and the like.  One close-up shot of Kerry Washington’s makeup at last month’s premiere complete with a break-down of what products were used, and I’m literally buying the magazine just for that one page.

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My May issue of InStyle magazine came yesterday in the mail and sure enough- 2013’s Best Beauty Buys can be found on page 297!  I like lists like these because I like comparing the magazines choices to what I already have and agree with, what I’m still curious about, and what products I hate.  Additionally, I’ve begun to take these “best of” lists more and more seriously because I’ve become increasingly interested in curating the best kit possible, even if it means a little extra investment here and there.  I trust InStyle for this and can tell that their choices are honest because a lot of the “winners” don’t change from year to year (whereas I feel some publication’s praises are simply based on what’s newest to hit the market).  Now, I won’t be mentioning my thoughts on every product that InStyle lauds, but there are a few I found to be worth commenting on.

1.  Best Inexpensive Lipstick- Cover Girl Lip Perfection  Yes.  The texture of these suckers does not feel cheap, despite the drugstore price (and the pigment lasts forever).  What’s great about this line is that the color range feels expensive and a little more edgy as well, whereas drugstore lipstick in the past seemed to just offer cute variations on frosty pink for the most part.  I still proudly proclaim their shade called Spellbound as the best shade of holy-crap-that-is-no-joke-magenta for under ten bucks.

2.  Best Inexpensive Mascara- L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Original  Is it just me or has this stuff sucked every time I’ve tried to give it another chance?  I’ve probably purchased this formula a total of three or four times over the years, just on the basis of knowing it’s reputation and thinking that it’ll perhaps work out differently this time.  But like Maybelline’s Great Lash (which I’ve consistently detested), this stuff is just goopy and can’t handle the pressure of a second coat (which is a bloody shame since I tend to cap things off at five coats).

3.  Best Overall Mascara- Dior Diorshow  I’ve purchased this stuff twice in my lifetime, which, in conjunction with my comments on the previous product, proves that I am certifiably insane in that I think if I do the same thing over and over I’ll somehow, at some point, land on different results.  In my little library of thoughts, Diorshow is categorized as the most overrated beauty product in existence.  The brush is too big to the point where you can’t control the product easily or put as many coats on without things getting into Shelob territory very quickly.  And what’s more, there’s fragrance in it.  For why?!

4.  Best Powder Blush- NARS  Always and forever, yes and yes.  I have three shades of NARS powder blush, and they are just the happiest, most exciting colors to wear.  Your mood just changes when you dot on one of the shades on to your cheeks.  While I love wearing their cream version in Lokoum on a regular basis, I took a dare last year in purchasing their powder formula in Exhibit A, an absolutely terrifying shade of vermilion at first glance (and I’m pretty sure the bride I most recently used it on hyperventilated when I first showed it to her).  But just a couple dots on the cheekbones and BAM!  You look like you’re glowing from the inside-out.

5.  Best Inexpensive Shampoo and Conditioner- Pantene Pro-V Classic  Just deal with my rant for a moment:  When you’re paying four bucks for a ginormous bottle of shampoo, this should tell you something- that apparently there’s nothing in that bottle worth any money to raise the price over four bucks.  Seriously, read the label on the back of your Pantene shampoo or conditioner bottle and tell me if you can identify any of the ingredients other than water.  The first ingredient of Pantene’s shampoo is water, the next two are detergents that strip your hair, the next is sodium chloride (table salt), and the next is dimethicone (which, while being toted as great for reducing frizz, also saps your hair of moisture).  The list goes on, but nothing in these products can be considered nutritious for your hair.  It’ll clean, but it’ll strip.  If you’re going for a cheaper shampoo and conditioner, at least go for a sulfate-free brand.  I also find shower products like these more worrisome too because we rinse a lot of this stuff down our drains and it gets swept up into our oceans and water systems, and I can’t see dumping gallons and gallons of synthetically-derived Pantene as ultimately good for our water supply and ecosystems.

6.  Best Lipstick- Tom Ford  I honestly wouldn’t know if I agree with this choice or not, because I’ve never tried Tom Ford’s lipsticks.  My life just isn’t at the point yet where I can justify fifty dollars for one tube of lipstick.  You read that right- fifty dollars. I feel like I could possibly justify such a price for face makeup (if you were to wear it everyday) or something that would last you a very long time, but I don’t wear lipstick everyday (rarely, actually) and lipstick isn’t even meant to last for an extremely long time.  So I’d either feel compelled to use it every single day (which I wouldn’t) or make the tube last at least two years (at which point it would’ve expired anyhow).  No win.  And what’s more, I’m just convinced that there are too many quality lip colors out there for twenty and under.

7.  Best Concealer- Cle’ de Peau Beaute’  See above.  Seventy bucks for concealer?  There’s no way.  Well, then again, I at least know I probably would use this everyday, and just a little bit each time.  I’d get my money’s worth!  And it is supposed to be an absolute miracle worker on all flaws and blemishes, and … you know what … no … I can’t keep talking like this.  Just slap me.

8.  Best Curling Iron- Hot Tools Spring Iron  Yep, this is the one.  I have the 1.25″ and I love it.  I just wrap sections of my hair around it (and I skip the clamp; I just wrap and hold) and nothing works better at creating easy waves.  Don’t pay more than fifty bucks for a curling iron or curling rod.  Save your biggest hunk of change for a high-tech flat iron.

9.  Best Lip Balm- Smith’s Rosebud Salve  Sure, the tin is chic in a French-apothecary-kind of way, but there’s a little too much petrolatum in this stuff for my taste.  Petrolatum, derived from petrochemicals, is known for ultimately disabling your lips from being able to remain moist on their own (hence the legend of “ChapStick addiction”).  Petrolatum merely acts as a barrier on your skin’s surface (not an actual moisturizer), and it simply traps whatever moisture is already on your lips in place.  Your lips, over time, basically un-learn how to replenish their own moisture.  Rub a petrolatum-based product all over your body and over time, this kind of barrier will prohibit toxins in the form of sweat and sebum from escaping the skin’s surface like they’re supposed to.  This is why I try to stay away from most drugstore lotions and “moisturizers”, because they’re laden with petrochemicals that can, in a worst-case scenario, really mess up your endocrine system.  I am forever loyal to Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm because I only find myself needing to apply it perhaps twice a day, and it is free of petrochemicals.

10.  Best Eyeliner Pencil- MAC Eye Kohl  Could the name “Smolder” be more appropriate?  This stuff is black magic.  Devilish, delicious, I-am-Jack-Sparrow’s-wickedly-awesome-pirate-girlfriend magic.

So seriously, let me know what you think.  Pick up the magazine (with Emily Blunt on the cover), flip through their lists, and give me your thoughts.  But I’m convinced there is no eyeliner better than my Jack Sparrow pirate eyeliner.  xo, MR

Spring Blahs: What’s exciting, what’s frustrating, and what Ben Affleck did for my beauty routine.

It’s been a while since I posted last- over two weeks!  It’s hard to write about something like beauty and hair and the latest trends when you’re not feeling particularly inspired, and I haven’t been so much lately.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of what we’ll just call blah these days, and that’s okay.  Beauty and fashion are constant and probably won’t ever really “go away” so to speak, but sometimes I peek into the lives of people in these industries and it’s like they try to rely on these things to keep calm, stay happy and escape from the reality that life deals them … and that’s called self-medicating.  I don’t want to fall into that cycle, and so I’ve been allowing myself to accept the fact that there are times when I will feel “meh” about hairstyles, colored eyeliner, and CC creams.  There will be times when the things I typically enjoy won’t bring me joy, and that’s okay.  It’s a season, and the joy will come back.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I cannot practice joy in makeup, beauty, and hair.  I still see the goodness in identifying something that I really, really like and expressing how much I like it, even if it feels functional and not as interesting as other times.  And so here, in the midst of blah, I’m listing what I’m currently excited about (or perhaps what I’m not excited about) in beauty.

1.  Early one morning before taking off for teaching, I attempted to do this seemingly easy slicked-back hairstyle.  I thought I had the right product for it, and I had planned to wash my hair that afternoon so it seemed like a good chance to use plenty of gel.  I ended up looking more like a wet Pekingese than anything, or like a cow got really friendly with me and decided to lick me and just not stop until the cow’s tongue turned to sand.  I’ll try it again later when I’m not planning on standing in front of teenagers all day, susceptible to their scathing criticism and underappreciation for the avant-garde in the classroom.  Such peasants, they are.

2.  I’m excited for these.

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Every year, InStyle comes out with an issue that’s just about hair (awesome) and People StyleWatch‘s May issue always features a big beauty section covering skin, makeup, hair, and the works (awesome).  InStyle‘s main edition also features a “Best Beauty Buys” section in it’s May issue (more awesome).  I think I just like pouring over up-close shots of celebrities with inspiring hairstyles and makeup shown in hi-def, and issues like these are loaded with them.  I swear my hair gets healthier and prettier during the week after reading a new magazine like this.  I also swear that the longer you stare at a picture of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s hair, the more likely you are to grab a curling rod and get to work on your own.  It’s this thing I call “envy”.

3.  I got through my whole bottle of Lancome’s La Vie Est Belle!  It’s a miracle, I tell you!  I never get through a whole bottle of perfume in just one season (because I frequently forget to put it on, in the first place), and I am so proud of myself for finally doing it.  I can officially call that my Fall/Winter 2012/2013 scent and I can now move on to bona fide summer fragrances, like my beloved D&G 3 L’Imperatrice, so I can smell like an unmistakably rich juicebox.

4.  I acquired the supposed shade of lipstick that was used on Jessica Alba in my post here (Avon’s Totally Kissable Lipstick in Lovey Dovey Pink, as my reputable resources tell me), but I proceeded to find that the shade was in fact a frosty pink that had me feeling more like this than anything.  I’ll be needing to do a little more research on that shade of Jessica’s.  I’m not convinced.

5.  I’m not at Coachella looking so impressed with myself that my eyes are rolled into the back of my head.

6.  But I WAS impressed enough with myself AND my hair one night to shamelessly Instagram this selfie.

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But come on, cut me some slack.  My hair was behaving like a voluptuous attention hog, I’d had an extra twenty minutes that evening to do a perfect smoky eye, and my bathroom lighting can get weird to the point where you can leave some photos unfiltered and they’ll still have a nice, flaw-concealing sheen to them.  And lest you believe this is a common occurrence, here I am, as I exist, right now:

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No filter, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING.  Now if you’d excuse me, IMG Models is calling and I’m replacing Miranda Kerr in the Victoria’s Secret Angels lineup.  This is the face that will crush Gisele.

7.  I had my hair color refreshed recently, and I’ve found that since then my hair texture has slightly changed.  It dries much straighter, and each strand seems, I don’t know, perhaps a bit more wire-y or thick.  My friend said she’s seen it happen particularly with dark shades, and so I’m not really worried.  But I am prepping myself for going lighter in less than a month, I’d say.  I have relatively no layers in my hair at this point (what I’ve wanted- mission accomplished).  It’s weird though, I’ve had layers basically for the last ten years up until now.  I’ve finally grown them all out (and had them cut to one length) and now I’m now sure how I feel about it.

8.  I watched Argo the other night and proceeded to bite off all of my nails until each finger started to burn with pain.  No nail polish now for nearly a month.  Thanks, Ben Affleck.  You and your movies make a crap manicurist.

Alright, I’m done.  Time to go sleep on a satin pillowcase to keep my hair and skin smooth and to prevent split ends and breakage.  Yes, I obsess over breakage even in my sleep.  xo, MR

Give me liberty or give me … a liberty roll!

I am not particularly talented when it comes to intricate hairstyles.  Trust me.  I can’t French braid (yet), and I’ve found that it’s more difficult for me to manipulate others’ hair into something pretty as opposed to my own.  I don’t know, I’m just more comfortable with my hair’s own texture, weight, and versatility.  But I know I need to get over that.

What helps me improve, however, are well-written how-to articles that provide steps and visuals for tackling difficult hairstyles.  I’ve mentioned such articles before, and I’ve been keeping one from the September 2012 issue of InStyle that I’ve just now put to use.  It took a little patience to work out, but I think I actually managed some success!

These here are what we call “liberty rolls”.  In American history, we saw them popularized during the 1940s as “victory rolls” on women during World War II, and they’ve continued to evoke old-fashioned flair ever since.  I actually believe they may have had even earlier roots as a hairstyle worn by fighting proletariat women during the French Revolution, but I can’t find enough scholarly research to back up my hunch.  But I like that they’re a little medieval, a little punk rock, a little French proletariat, a little Andrews Sisters … a little everything in history.  And as as girl who loves her some history from almost any time and place on this Earth, I’m totally down.

I’m not lying, this style looked intimidating.  What made this tutorial difficult is the fact that you weren’t given a picture of what it could look like from the back, so I kind of had to just make that up on my own (and I forgot to take a picture of the back when I finished … sorry!).  The article also suggests blowing out your hair and then immediately going into styling it, but I always feel that such styles form much easier on second day hair so I’d suggest waiting to try this the day after you wash.

I used the Wella Flowing Form Smoothing Balm that they suggested, and it works well at giving the hair flexibility with frizz control.  Pretty good stuff too at thirteen bucks!  I coaxed my hair into a deep side part and brushed the hair tightly away from the side I parted on.  I then combed on some Wet Look Gel from the TIGI Catwalk Session Series line to give the combed-over side a sleek look (and to secure it in place).  I pinned all the hair on that side back, just to temporarily keep it out of the way.  For the rest of (and the majority of) the hair, I then began just kind of twisting it upward into a roll.  Starting at the front of my head, I twisted back, back, and back.  There was little method to my madness; I kind of just kept twisting and coaxing until it looked something like the pictures.  I’d occasionally stick a bobby pin into the roll to secure it in place against my scalp.  Once I’d rolled all the way to the back, I had to decide what to do to finish it all off.  That’s where I used the Goody Spin Pins.  I just kind of joined the two sides of hair together in the back, twisted them into a small knot, and “spin pinned” them in place to create a neat little low-set bun.  A couple extra pins to nail down strays, top with some hairspray, and I’m satisfied.

It’s not as exaggerated as I’d like it to be (like in the Donna Karan picture in the article), but I liked it!  And what an accomplishment for me!  It felt really chic with my new, darker hair color, too.  I like that as elegant and old-fashioned as it looks, it still has this edge to it that feel sassy.  It won’t exactly be my go-to for fast styles (I’d say it took fifteen minutes), but I love that it’s an option I can handle by myself now.  Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!  xo, MR

Holy September fatness.

It may be the middle of August, and you may still be wiping that sweat off your sunburned brow, and you may still be pretending that it’s summer, but in reality … well, in fashion publication reality … we have officially turned the corner into FALL 2012. Where’s my evidence for this? Come Friday, all newsstands will have these lovelies happily perched on them, and they are the September issues.

These babies are the fattiest and most important issues of the year. People are frequently baffled as to why September issues are so ridiculously large. Your briefest answer lies in the fact that September ushers in the new season of fall fashion. We transition into a completely different way of dressing in the autumn, and designers often have had a lot of new and exciting ideas to showcase for it during the previous fashion week. Everyone is excited to show off the season’s best trends, all while coming together to see what’s lined up for the next spring. Spring brings a seasonal transition as well, but it’s never met with the same hype. Additionally, designers often take somewhat of a break over the summer, and so September is highly anticipated as a sort of ‘Back to Work! Let’s kick it into high gear!’ time. I like to think of it as the true ‘new year’ in the fashion and fashion publication world. In fact, you’ll notice that January issues are usually the slimmest of the year.

Folks working for any fashion publication will tell you that their goal is to always increase in page numbers from year to year, up from the page count of that same month during the previous year. In other words, Vogue (or any fashion pub.) always hopes that this year’s September issue is bigger than last year’s September issue, and because the September issue is always the biggest of the year anyhow, the ultimate goal is … for your September issue to be your very biggest yet. So in summary, fashion publications are graded based on the turnout of their September issues. If they’re bigger than the year prior, you’re right on the mark.

Here’s a picture of the fatty fat McFatterson September issue of Vogue for this year. I picked up the thing this afternoon and let me tell ya, it’s a beast. It is no joke. My arm shook as I held the thing up to take the stupid picture (and that’s silly Cosmo there placed on top just to give you a small reference for size). Lady Gaga is on the cover, which is a relatively safe choice considering she’s been on the cover of Vogue before and it was the year’s best-seller. No risks there.

I am personally looking forward to trying to pry the obese monster that is InStyle September 2012 out of my mailbox tomorrow, with Jennifer Lopez on the cover. It’s their biggest issue ever (fashion publication achievement unlocked). Seriously, anyone got a monkey wrench? My mailbox may choke to death; there’s no room for Jenny-from-the-block’s big booty in that mailbox!