Life, Wearable, Year of Making it Happen

louboutin lips

This last weekend I took some time and purged my lipstick collection. When I sat down on Sunday to do the work I had over 250 different lipsticks. By the time I finished I had whittled myself down to about 20. I also took the big and slightly anxiety-inducing step of deleting my master spreadsheet on which I kept track of my lipsticks. For the first time in over a decade I don’t own all the lips and I don’t have an organization system. I have a small box of colors I love and I’m trying not to freak out about this. I’m half successful.

No one woman really needs 250 lipsticks so stripping down to the basics makes sense, but going back to basics when you have that damn many lippies doesn’t just happen. There has to be a reason, something to prompt such a massive change. A shift, if you will. For me that shift is coming from a desire to have lipsticks that are not on beautiful on, but of high quality and in beautiful packaging. Lipstick, I feel, should be a special experience, a powerful bit of luxury that is personal even as it is public.

What prompted this? Oh, just a $90 Christian Louboutin lipstick.

Louboutin Silky Satin Lipcolour in Very Prive 410

Louboutin Silky Satin Lipcolour in Very Prive 410

This is not my lipstick. To date the most I have ever spent on a lipstick is $50 and that was for my beloved Tom Ford “Flamingo” and even when handing over the money for that I felt ridiculous. I had seen the Louboutin online, but decided that while I was crazy I wasn’t insane. Then someone returned one to my store and I did what any self-respecting lipstick queen would do when in the presence of greatness: I touched it and tried it on.

The very first big-girl lipstick I ever wore was Clarion Cosmetics’ Carnation Pink. I found it in a clearance bin at the Rexall Drugs and somehow convinced my mother to buy it for me. I couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 and in retrospect it was probably a really bright color for my fair skin, but it changed my life. I can remember how it tasted, how it smelled, the click of the lid, the smoothness of the gray tube it came in. The thing I remember the most, though, was how it made me feel. Everything could be chaos in my little preteen life, but the second I slicked that lipstick on I felt like I had it together. A few years later when I would buy my next real lipstick, Max Factor’s “Rosewood”, that feeling of having it together would only amplify in the presence of finer packaging. I felt special and strong pulling the tube out of my purse and an addiction was born.

I have since gone on to buy a lot of lipsticks, cheap and not, just because I liked the color and wanted to look nice, but as I held that heavy, graceful, regal gold spike of a tube in my hand I realized that I had gotten away from why I love lipstick so much to start with. It isn’t just about the color or having them all. It’s about feeling like you have the world at your feet.

So I parted ways with a lot of my lipsticks. They’re getting good homes with friends. A few ended up in my professional kit. Two are AWOL as I can’t find them in my things. That’s okay. And I parted ways with my insane spreadsheet to keep track. When you stick with what makes you feel beautiful you don’t need an inventory. Your heart knows it. You feel it in your bones. It’s a wonderful thing.

But so is that Louboutin and I’m absolutely going to need that lipstick.



So last night I said goodbye to blonde (for now) and welcomed back red.

my skin is a mess today.

my skin is a mess today. drink water, kids.

I call this “Jessica Rabbit Red” and it’s just a couple of clicks under magenta right now, but that’s perfectly fine. As it fades down it’s going to be the absolute perfect shade of red. I’m stoked. My stylist is a genius.

Happy Monday!


what’s on my face lately

My face is all sorts of crazy. Yes, I’m a makeup artist. Yes, I work for an incredible brand and have access to really great skin care. My skin, however, doesn’t seem to care. Lately it’s been sensitive to all the products that I usually love and I’ve had breakouts like crazy. I’m also in the middle of a “use all the sample sizes I have” phase so that I can feel good about opening up my new jar of Bobbi Brown’s Hydrating Face Cream. Good grief I love that stuff.

But in the last few weeks I’ve hit on a really random collection of things that is working. The acne is less troublesome. My face isn’t itching like crazy. I might actually survive my sample size purge. Behold, my current skin care routine.


Shiseido Ibuki Refining Moisturizer

Boots Expert Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam

Demalogica Precleanse

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel

Boots Expert Scar Care Serum

La Mer Soft Cream

The Shiseido is my day moisturizer. It’s lightweight and nice and has worked for the summer. It smells good. It lays well under makeup. The Boots Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam has been amazing for my skin. It is far more gentle than most acne cleansers. No harsh ingredients, just TLC. The Dermalogica Precleanse is an oil cleanser I use to break down makeup. I’m happy with it, but it’s pretty generic. The Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion is a good, alcohol free toner. The Paula’s Choice is pretty random (it was a Birchbox sample) but it seems to be making my skin’s texture nice. Verdict is still out on the Scar Care Serum, but it feels very silky. And the La Mer cream is the BOMB DOT COM. This is my night cream. And I love it. Honorable mention to my Clinique Superdefense Eye Cream. It brightens and a tiny bit goes a long way. It’s happiness.

Will I get back to my Bobbi Brown products? Absolutely. I have a thing of Lathering Tube Soap waiting for me once I empty these things, but these things are working well for me right now.

What do you use for your skin care? Anything I should try? Let me know in comments.


Unwanted journeys.

Two weeks ago I had a mammogram. I’m thirty-six.

It started with something that looked off. I noticed it while I was in Chicago, though if I am honest with myself I noticed earlier and just brushed it off. When it didn’t go away on its own I decided to make an appointment with my primary care physician. I adore my doctor. I’ve been with her for a decade and she knows me very well, not only medically but personally. She’s one of those doctors that takes the time to get to know her patients and understands us a human beings, not just illnesses. She knows I have a tendency to worry about nothing, but also not take my medication like I’m supposed to. She’s a whip-smart straight-shooter and I trust her implicitly. I also know that she is an excellent doctor and I fully expected her to take one look at me and be able to either identify the issue or have a damn good idea of what it was.

That isn’t what happened. She looked me over, asked some questions, got a little handsy in a professional way and told me that she simply didn’t know. This was going to require further testing, namely a mammogram and an ultrasound. Her office would communicate with insurance to get it approved because a mammogram before the age of forty is kind of a non-standard thing. By end of business that day the office called me to tell me that everything was a go and the breast center would call me to set up the tests. They called me the next business day, getting me in bright and early two days later. Once at the breast center they decided that they needed to run tests on both of my breasts and not just the one initially prescribed, a little worrying for me but useful for them. The mammogram itself was painless. The ultrasound was a little uncomfortable. The doctor and tech in my appointment both felt pretty confident my results were clear, though the sobbing down the hall reminded me how lucky I was.

Before I left, though, I was asked about family history and some risk factors. I made a phone call to my mother and answered as best as I could. Then I went home, got the official results that afternoon: nothing on either test so now we needed to move on to dermatology and a breast specialist because we still don’t know what the heck the issue is. That’s kind of where things still are, though my major fears and worries calmed down massively. I had sort of let everything fade from my mind (more pressing issues popped up) until I got the mail yesterday.

It was a letter from the breast center.


I’ve known this was a possibility for some time and genetic testing has been on the horizon, though various insurance concerns when switching from one carrier to another created issues. This is different, though. This is a letter from doctors treating me very straightforwardly informing me that I have an increased risk. This isn’t my mother’s doctor suggesting the test on some maybes or my own fears. This is directly about me and my situation and it is the first step in a journey that I never wanted to be on. It may not end in cancer land. It may just dead end somewhere in a mess of tests that don’t tell me much of anything. It may never matter. It’s a journey I’m now on.

I’ll call the genetic counselor tomorrow. We’ll figure out next steps and what we need to send off to the insurance to go from here. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m here. And I’ve got this.


The best red lipstick ever.

Last Tuesday I watched the debut of Agent Carter on ABC. It was a fantastic show, following up on the story of Peggy Carter after we see her in Captain America. I’m a fan of the character, a fan of Hayley Atwell who portrays her, and the show was so excellent that I’m now a fan of the show. The show was practically perfect in every way and I will, eventually, write about it but the thing that hooked me from second one? The absolutely amazing red lipstick Peggy Carter wears. It’s just so damn perfect. Red, lush, slightly matte, but not overwhelming or dry-looking. I had to have it. I absolutely had to have it and I got lucky: Hayley Atwell had Tweeted the exact color and brand. A quick Google search lead me to their online store and before the show was over for the night I had ordered it.

1946-Red Velvet by Besame Cosmetics

1946-Red Velvet by Besame Cosmetics

Velvet Red by Besame Cosmetics is the most perfect red I have ever owned. And more than that, it isn’t even that it’s a perfect red (which it is) but that it is authentic. Everything Besame does is vintage-inspired, carefully researched, and recreated with modern science. Short of a time machine straight back to the 40s, this is as genuine old school glam as it gets. I love it.

Yes. Just yes.

Yes. Just yes.

Now to break open the piggy bank and get all the other lipsticks…



My name is Nicole and I have a makeup addiction.

MAC is coming out with a Rocky Horror makeup collection. I seriously want all of the lipsticks, which are all shades of read. I’m pretty sure I have a problem.

Since moving now some almost five months ago I have been trying to put the apartment together, a task that is still not totally done (though I have gotten more empty boxes dealt with!  Progress!)  One of the biggest sticking points and hindrances to the well-organized apartment of my dreams has been my makeup collection.  Three short years ago, when I moved from the house I shared with a friend to the townhome I shared with the same friend moving my makeup wasn’t an issue.  It all fit in pretty much one wicker basket and that basket also held my skincare products. When I moved the same items to the new place? I had a scrapbooking cart full of just lipstick and at least three small boxes of makeup.  I didn’t count how many boxes of skincare.  It takes up its own closet at this point.

I easily have over one hundred lipsticks and lipglosses.  I counted at least five foundations.  I refuse to count eyeshadows and blushes. I have a lot of makeup.  Loads.  And I’ve been struggling for the past few days with the desire to go buy some new lipsticks I read about because I can always use a fourth shade of the same color purple, right? Right?!? I am trying to build a solid professional makeup kit. I work part-time for a cosmetics company, but I also freelance in makeup artistry here and there.  It’s something I’m good at and the occasional wedding brings in a little extra which is nice.  I don’t have the steady clientele or gigs, however, to justify purchasing all the eyeshadows and all the lipsticks in every MAC collection that comes out.  They just end up being part of my personal rotation and I don’t put the expense of the products on my taxes because, let’s be honest: those two tubes of Pure Heroine from the Lorde collection? Those are mine.

I logically don’t need any more of ANYTHING for a long, long time. Especially lipsticks.  Most especially RED lipsticks.

…that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to cave in and by all the lipsticks though. My friend J. and I have a “date” to go check out the collection at Nordie’s tomorrow and I’m trying to convince myself to be good. The only problem with that is that when I get there and I swatch the lipsticks on my hand I’m going to have a shut up and take my money moment. It never, ever fails.

I guess it’s good that I look smashing in red, huh?

Yeah.  I have a problem.

Life, This World We Live In


The world is a strange, horrible, and hopeful place.

On Friday night, twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree near UC Santa Barbara which resulted in the deaths of six and the inuring of seven others. The young man had posted videos to YouTube and participated elsewhere on the internet as an outlet for his highly misogynistic views. He had nothing nice to say about women and was very explicit about what he wanted to do with women–all women–because he felt that women had something against him. He said so in a video posted the day of the shooting.

I don’t want to give that man’s venemous thoughts or violent acts any more airtime than it deserves, but what is worth shining a light on is how the internet, that same place the troubled Rodger turned to spew hate, has turned the tragedy into a bold and brave moment of honesty–and has opened up a conversation about the uneasy subject of gender bias, violence, and discrimination in our culture.

It started Saturday night on Twitter in response to Rodger’s entitled comments about women. Women from all over the world began posting in profound 140 character blurbs marked with #YesAllWomen. The hashtag? A response to a recent internet meme where men complained that only a few guys were bad. The posts? Real-life, real-world stories of what women endure. The short stories began to flow rapidly and heartbreakingly, some simple musings on what the shootings revealed about society, some confessions of crimes done against them, some simple statements on how twisted the status quo is for women. A much-quoted one, and probably my favorite one from emily (@emilyhuges): “Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One. #YesAllWomen”

It’s been amazing to see how so many women are chiming in with their stories. So many of the experiences are hauntingly familiar, something women on Twitter have noticed, leading to supportive comments, retweets, and in some cases open conversation about what we’ve all endured and how we’ve all lived our lives in the shadow of this subtle type of violence. Not all the response has been positive, however. As I followed the posts ever so often women would start posting about the occaisional “troll” that popped up in the conversation to mock, belittle, or even threaten women using the hastag. But for every hurtful reply there were a hundred positive ones as men started to come forward and join the conversation, trying to understand what it must be like to live in a world full of double standard and institutionalized oppression.

It’s Twitter, a place cluttered with what often amounts to idle boredom and sometimes the accidental start of rumors, a service where life is boiled down to a handful of characters. It’s the last place one would expect to find the silver lining in a moment of horrible violence and tragedy, but in the shadows of hate that is exactly what has happened: truth and understanding has begun pushing its way through the blackness to shed light, to spread light, and (hopefully) change things for the better.

Here’s to hoping that that’s what we take away from this horror, that women spoke up and the world changed. Here’s to hoping that #YesAllWomen is the change our world needs. Let’s learn with hope and let the monster fade away in the blackness of his own cowardice.

I choose hope.