• Have You Tried These Foundations Yet? A Year in Review

    Build me up, buttercup!

    Now that 2016 is over, I’d like to recap on some of my favorite foundations—the ones that have stayed loyal and put through the unbearably early mornings and incredibly late nights. They kept me alive and always gave me a flawless glow. Here’s to a new year with these gems!

    NARS SHEER GLOW FOUNDATION

    My holy grail foundation! Its light to medium coverage is perfect for my daily no-makeup, makeup look. In fact, it covers just enough of the redness I have in certain areas around my face.

    URBAN DECAY NAKED SKIN WEIGHTLESS ULTRA DEFINITION LIQUID MAKEUP

    This is a great medium coverage foundation that doesn’t feel heavy at all! It also has a natural semi-matte finish!

    TOO FACED BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION

    Born This Way is what I use when I need a medium to full coverage foundation. I don’t normally wear a “full face,” but when I do, it’s nice to have this guy handy for date nights and big events!

    SULWHASOO PERFECTING CUSHION FOUNDATION

    This Sulwhasoo compact is one of my favorite cushion foundations.  Versatile and travel-friendly, the product is super build-able—the more product you use, the more coverage you get!

    Hope you guys enjoyed this mini recap. All these foundations are non-greasy and build-able, just the way I like it! Let me know what your go-to foundation is in the comments below!

  • Out With The Bob, In With The Twisted Bun

    Marlyn Alarm is a singer from Miami, Fla., undergoing formal gender transition after living a full year living as a woman. But her struggle with identity is not a new one.

    “Today I was asked when I realized I was in the wrong body. As much as it took me a really long time to come to terms with it, I think I have known since I can remember—since I could even think about gender or notice it. I was thinking about when I was in pre-K ,and I would dress up as Cinderella and do girl things. If I decided to wear a dress or roleplay as a princess, my teachers would tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a boy. So when you have everyone in your life telling you that you’re a boy, you kind of start to believe it, even though none of it comes naturally to you.

    My transition has been a very gradual, very cerebral process. For a lot of people, it’s very easy to reduce gender to bodies, and that’s terrible. So to answer that question that I was asked today, I realized I was a woman after I was already living as a woman for about a year or so. Before that, I had this platinum blond hair, acrylics, and would dress in skirts, and wear purses—but I still identified as male. I was open-minded enough, growing up, to think that even if my outward appearance was female, I could still be male. If you read enough queer theory, you realize any sort of conjunction is possible. There are boys who want experience life as women but still be boys, and that’s valid.

    I never understood why people would think that men couldn’t be as beautiful as women, so for a long time I didn’t have a word for myself. I was like, ‘I’m not a boy but I can’t let myself be a woman.’ So at the time I was like, ‘OK, I’ll be something else.’ It was weird for me, and in some ways, my thinking allowed me to keep putting off how I felt inside by just covering it up with this cerebral explanation.

    [blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]There is a lot of psychological tension in trying to discuss anything with gender identity.[/blockquote]

    I used to wear a lot more makeup. I fucking love Boy George, and I would put on that amount of makeup—like Boy George amounts of makeup. My eyeliner would like reach my hairline. I would go really crazy with it. I would try to overcompensate. Now I’m much more toned down, but I feel like all girls have that phase when experimenting with makeup for the first time. Though, if I started off putting on the amount of makeup I wear now, I knew I would just look like who I really am, and I think I was just not ready for that.

    I was 14 years old when I got my first taste of makeup. I was in a band as the lead singer and we were playing one of our first shows. At that point all I could get away with was straightening my hair maybe once a month. So yeah, I was at my first show, and I remember finding a Revlon retractable black eyeliner in the bathroom. I put it on my waterline, not even thinking about the fact that I could get an eye infection as I picked it up off the floor—it was disgusting. I guess the cool thing about being in a band is that there is so much more freedom. There’s the classic ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)‘-feel. I felt like I could wear the eyeliner, and no one would care because I was at a rock show. Then I wore it again to a crowd that was more of a hardcore scene, and it wasn’t a cool experience. They were screaming at me to get off the stage and calling me the F word. I was just like, ‘Wow, OK.’ I was 15 at that point. It was a terrible wake up call to me, all because I was wearing eyeliner—it’s not that big of a deal, and yet, people are already policing me for not performing this gender that I’m pretending to be. Obviously I was doing a shitty job at performing male. Sometimes I tell people that I really feel like I was in drag for over a decade, in the sense of performing male gender roles. I’d end the night and make sure to wipe off my eyeliner before I got home.

    Habits-Stylish-Women

    I had really bad acne in high school, so I’d get away with wearing coverall and that’s it. Still, my mother would look at me from her bed—I did, and still do, my makeup in her room because it has the best lighting—and be like, ‘What are you doing?’ I used to tell my mom like, ‘Don’t worry! I’ll never wear mascara!’ But it all happens…100 YouTube tutorials later you emerge in full face [Laughs].

    I always admired makeup. I’d watch my grandma doing her makeup, and she’d always be put together. She would tell me that photos are forever, you can’t take it lightly, and you have to perfect it. Little things like that really stuck with me. Without my mother’s permission, I dyed my hair platinum blonde as a teenager. Having white hair changes your life, regardless of gender identity. It is a really crazy experience. You learn about so many different sides of people and how they perceive you—it’s crazy. It was motivation, I guess, and it was the first instance of feeling like I can’t hide myself.

    I was really obsessed with Final Fantasy at the time, especially the Final Fantasy villains. If you really look at a Final Fantasy villain and analyze it, it’s a female head on a male body. I felt connected to the possibility of being really pretty, even if my body didn’t match up—there was a chance for the head portion to be on-point and consistent with how I view myself. After that, I started really diving into makeup as identity. Beauty can be a big deal for all girls, but beauty for a trans girl could be life-or-death. There’s moments when you could be placed in danger for not passing as a woman convincingly enough. One time I was walking with my friend and a guy was trying to holler at me, then he took out a knife. Makeup is much more serious to trans women. Even cis girls can relate—they get attacked and bullied in schools, growing up, because they’re not pretty enough.

    I really feel bad for a lot of trans people and trans women who don’t have the experience [with makeup] before they come into themselves and have to learn to do their makeup in no time. They’re 35, they have kids, and they need to transition then—that’s the bravest thing ever. That’s not to say that I think people transitioning later in life necessarily need to wear makeup to be who they are. I just identified with it. The way I did it was just like how every girl picks up makeup skills—where your mom is like, ‘You can only put on lipgloss.’ You need time to practice, so it looks good. I used to just have these Zen three-hour makeup sessions. Of course, during the day I just wear tinted moisturizer, concealer, and maybe mascara. Sometimes I’ll do a wing, but just a little bit on the outer edge. But at night…at night is when I’d really take my time. I’d do my makeup from 7pm to 10pm and go out at midnight.

  • Look Like A Silent Film Star

    Hollywood Babylon, Kenneth Anger’s 1959 book about the film industry’s formative years, is so juicy it’s easy to forget that most of the stories in it are half-true, at best.

    Tabloid in long-form, Anger details the scandals of Tinseltown’s very first stars (including Rudolph Valentino, Roscoe Arbuckle, and Clara Bow) against the backdrop of a city charged by rampant debauchery and high glamour.

    Whereas Hollywood Babylon deals mostly with the era’s nightlife, the workday habits of early film stars were pretty wild too. For our purposes, it’s all about the prep. Hence a little history lesson today, particularly about how one might get ready for a period moving picture.

    Early movies were shot on orthochromatic film, which was not sensitive to yellow-red wavelengths (so colors on that end of the spectrum became almost black). Blue and purple tones, in turn, showed up pale and whitish. The unfortunate on-screen effects of this were myriad—actors with ruddy skin looked dirty, and blue eyes would turn blank and spooky. The latter pitfall almost foiled the ambitions of eventual Academy Award winner Norma Shearer when she was told by D.W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation director, that her eyes were “far too blue” to have any success in cinema.

    In order to create an impactful (and hopefully, natural) look under such conditions in the 1910s and ’20s, most actors were tasked with applying their own makeup (A common press photo set-up was very Top Shelf-like and featured the starlet at her vanity.), and studios would distribute guides for proper use of color. Blue-toned greasepaint was applied as a foundation and contouring shade, while lips were painted yellow. In real life, actors must have looked truly bizarre when they arrived at the studio. Early greasepaint was texturally problematic. Since it was applied with a heavy hand, the surface layer would often crack when the actor’s expression changed (not great for a medium that relied so heavily on overly dramatic, silent expression). It could also be hazardous—as was in the case of Dolores Costello (Drew Barrymore’s paternal grandmother), whose complexion and career were both damaged beyond repair by early film makeup. In 1914, Max Factor, a wig and cosmetic shop owner in Los Angeles, developed a solution in the form of Flexible Greasepaint. After its invention, he became the most sought-after makeup artist in Hollywood and the leading figure in cosmetic development for the industry.

    Factor’s personalized approach to makeup artistry cemented a few specific, studio-endorsed “looks.” For Clara Bow, he drew her sharply peaked cupid’s bow; Joan Crawford’s signature “smeared” lip (extending far beyond her natural line) assuaged the actress’ thin-lipped insecurities and was all thanks to Factor. Industry standards also required actors’ eyes to look deep-set and moody by shadowing them from lash line to socket, and eyebrows were drawn straight, bold, and very, very long (think Louise Brooks).

    When orthochromatic film gave way to panchromatic in the 1920s, shiny hair and eyelids captured the glow of incandescent bulbs used on-set to great effect. Factor kept pace, developing specific light-refracting hair dyes to suit this technical shift—even sprinkling gold dust on to Marlene Dietrich’s wigs when asked. He couldn’t rest on his laurels for long though—Technicolor was on the horizon, and with it came a new set of cosmetic challenges.

    A final note: In the early ‘30s, still riding the panchromatic “high shine” wave, Factor created a slick lip coat for his famous clients. The formula would go on to become commercially sold as “X-Rated,” the world’s very first lip gloss. Something I think we’re all still kind of into.

    —Lauren Maas

  • Makeup & Male-To-Female Transition: A Look At How Beauty And Gender Coincide

    Marlyn Alarm is a singer from Miami, Fla., undergoing formal gender transition after living a full year living as a woman. But her struggle with identity is not a new one.

    “Today I was asked when I realized I was in the wrong body. As much as it took me a really long time to come to terms with it, I think I have known since I can remember—since I could even think about gender or notice it. I was thinking about when I was in pre-K ,and I would dress up as Cinderella and do girl things. If I decided to wear a dress or roleplay as a princess, my teachers would tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a boy. So when you have everyone in your life telling you that you’re a boy, you kind of start to believe it, even though none of it comes naturally to you.

     It's been a journey in many ways impacted by her experience with and use of makeup along the way.

    It’s been a journey in many ways impacted by her experience with and use of makeup along the way.

    My transition has been a very gradual, very cerebral process. For a lot of people, it’s very easy to reduce gender to bodies, and that’s terrible. So to answer that question that I was asked today, I realized I was a woman after I was already living as a woman for about a year or so. Before that, I had this platinum blond hair, acrylics, and would dress in skirts, and wear purses—but I still identified as male. I was open-minded enough, growing up, to think that even if my outward appearance was female, I could still be male. If you read enough queer theory, you realize any sort of conjunction is possible. There are boys who want experience life as women but still be boys, and that’s valid.

    I never understood why people would think that men couldn’t be as beautiful as women, so for a long time I didn’t have a word for myself. I was like, ‘I’m not a boy but I can’t let myself be a woman.’ So at the time I was like, ‘OK, I’ll be something else.’ It was weird for me, and in some ways, my thinking allowed me to keep putting off how I felt inside by just covering it up with this cerebral explanation.

    [blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]There is a lot of psychological tension in trying to discuss anything with gender identity.[/blockquote]

    I used to wear a lot more makeup. I fucking love Boy George, and I would put on that amount of makeup—like Boy George amounts of makeup. My eyeliner would like reach my hairline. I would go really crazy with it. I would try to overcompensate. Now I’m much more toned down, but I feel like all girls have that phase when experimenting with makeup for the first time. Though, if I started off putting on the amount of makeup I wear now, I knew I would just look like who I really am, and I think I was just not ready for that.

    I was 14 years old when I got my first taste of makeup. I was in a band as the lead singer and we were playing one of our first shows. At that point all I could get away with was straightening my hair maybe once a month. So yeah, I was at my first show, and I remember finding a Revlon retractable black eyeliner in the bathroom. I put it on my waterline, not even thinking about the fact that I could get an eye infection as I picked it up off the floor—it was disgusting. I guess the cool thing about being in a band is that there is so much more freedom. There’s the classic ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)‘-feel. I felt like I could wear the eyeliner, and no one would care because I was at a rock show. Then I wore it again to a crowd that was more of a hardcore scene, and it wasn’t a cool experience. They were screaming at me to get off the stage and calling me the F word. I was just like, ‘Wow, OK.’ I was 15 at that point. It was a terrible wake up call to me, all because I was wearing eyeliner—it’s not that big of a deal, and yet, people are already policing me for not performing this gender that I’m pretending to be. Obviously I was doing a shitty job at performing male. Sometimes I tell people that I really feel like I was in drag for over a decade, in the sense of performing male gender roles. I’d end the night and make sure to wipe off my eyeliner before I got home.

    10584696_1375404039435051_1488133584_n-613x613

    I had really bad acne in high school, so I’d get away with wearing coverall and that’s it. Still, my mother would look at me from her bed—I did, and still do, my makeup in her room because it has the best lighting—and be like, ‘What are you doing?’ I used to tell my mom like, ‘Don’t worry! I’ll never wear mascara!’ But it all happens…100 YouTube tutorials later you emerge in full face [Laughs].

    I always admired makeup. I’d watch my grandma doing her makeup, and she’d always be put together. She would tell me that photos are forever, you can’t take it lightly, and you have to perfect it. Little things like that really stuck with me. Without my mother’s permission, I dyed my hair platinum blonde as a teenager. Having white hair changes your life, regardless of gender identity. It is a really crazy experience. You learn about so many different sides of people and how they perceive you—it’s crazy. It was motivation, I guess, and it was the first instance of feeling like I can’t hide myself.

    I was really obsessed with Final Fantasy at the time, especially the Final Fantasy villains. If you really look at a Final Fantasy villain and analyze it, it’s a female head on a male body. I felt connected to the possibility of being really pretty, even if my body didn’t match up—there was a chance for the head portion to be on-point and consistent with how I view myself. After that, I started really diving into makeup as identity. Beauty can be a big deal for all girls, but beauty for a trans girl could be life-or-death. There’s moments when you could be placed in danger for not passing as a woman convincingly enough. One time I was walking with my friend and a guy was trying to holler at me, then he took out a knife. Makeup is much more serious to trans women. Even cis girls can relate—they get attacked and bullied in schools, growing up, because they’re not pretty enough.

    I really feel bad for a lot of trans people and trans women who don’t have the experience [with makeup] before they come into themselves and have to learn to do their makeup in no time. They’re 35, they have kids, and they need to transition then—that’s the bravest thing ever. That’s not to say that I think people transitioning later in life necessarily need to wear makeup to be who they are. I just identified with it. The way I did it was just like how every girl picks up makeup skills—where your mom is like, ‘You can only put on lipgloss.’ You need time to practice, so it looks good. I used to just have these Zen three-hour makeup sessions. Of course, during the day I just wear tinted moisturizer, concealer, and maybe mascara. Sometimes I’ll do a wing, but just a little bit on the outer edge. But at night…at night is when I’d really take my time. I’d do my makeup from 7pm to 10pm and go out at midnight.

  • TheLoDown