I do believe in the genius that is under-eye concealer. But I want to take some time to address how it should be worn--or at least, how it should be applied. Because application is key.

So I'm risking life and limb here by revealing some unbelievably unattractive photos (1 and 2, specifically) so that you can see step by step just how it's done (well, how I do it, I should say).

Note the dark circles. I blame my Polish roots (mostly because i once read an article in which Diane Kruger talked about inheriting very dark under-eye circles from her Polish grandmother). Every time I go home and I walk downstairs that first morning, I give my mother a fright. Am I sick? Have I not been sleeping? she wonders. Nope. Just genetics. And maybe bad allergies--that's my hypothesis.

1: dark circles

2: yup, see 'em there?

Euf. Okay, now that you've seen the before, let's get to work. The most important thing is to focus on more than just the problem area. Please, I entreat you, do not simply focus on the circles themselves--don't only apply the concealer there! I start in the lower corner of my eye and work outward and downward (along my nose). For shape think of an elongated arrowhead. And hint: I don't always get the whole of the dark circle--the bit furthest away from my nose I often leave for basic foundation.

3: under-eye concealer begins

4: not limited to area of darkness (key)

Now pat. Below you can see one eye patted in.

5: one patted in.

6: use ring finger (lightest touch)

7: like so

Use your ring finger--it is always the finger with the lightest touch. And for the love of all that is good, don't rub. Okay, maybe when the patting is finished rub just a bit--but with great discretion.

8: see--ring on the finger

The above process is then finished off with foundation all over the rest of the face--and the foundation need not go over the concealer. It can meet the edge of it, but don't pile foundation on top of concealer.

Below begins what I refer to the owl eye brightening process. It is a second way to apply concealer--learned during my short stint as a makeup artist for a cosmetic company. I only use it when I'm in the mood, but I must admit it works quite well. You apply the concealer in small dashes all around the eyes and up over the eyebrows (think owl). Then pat in (again with ring finger). The effect is the brightening of the area all around the eyes. We want to do all we can to avoid applying under-eye concealer to just the under-eye dark circles--if you take anything away from this, take that little nugget of info.

9: method 2--owl eyes

10: mean to brighten up whole area

The final step in brightening the eyes--because that's what this is all about, no?--is finding a great eye base for eyeshadow that can be worn alone. A neutral shade that just pops the eyelid is key.

12: ready for my close up

13: there you have it

Oftentimes I don't want to leave the house in a full face of makeup so I begin (always, always) with  a moisturizer that has an SPF. From there I put on my under-eye concealer and a bit of mascara and that's all I need.

In this final picture I do have on mascara, concealer, light foundation, a bit of bronzer, and just a swipe of eye-shadow. The result from picture to picture is extremely subtle, but all together it adds up to something that nicely enhances my own brand of natural beauty (Don't believe me? Return now to picture 1 and 2. We're on the same page now? Phew).

Happy concealing (or, well, enhancing, really)!

beauty regimen

when asked to break down just how it is that i do my makeup, i thought, what better place to share then here at the violet--a space that encourages natural beauty and the enhancement of one's greatest assets?

my beauty philosophy is one of ease and simplicity. making a little bit of work go a long way.

i actually made a little low-quality video of my process step-by-step but until i figure out how to work imovie or upload videos of a certain size to vimeo, we'll have to make do with what follows.



i am all about skin-care. it's my big thing. i put spf on my face every day. and then i put it on my neck and the backs of my hands (i want to age gracefully all over). i eat kale and cucumbers because i know they're good for my face (among other parts of the body). i take my make-up off before bed and then i moisturize all over again. as a very wise woman once said to me, the party happens at night. meaning: it is while we sleep that the body works to restore itself--so cream before bed is the absolute best time to give your skin a little love. my secret moisturizing weapon is toner. i always apply toner just before the moisturizer. it preps the skin so the cream gets down in there--otherwise you're just moving it around on the surface of your skin.

for toner i use clinique clarifying lotion #2 (the purple one). it's relatively well-priced. for moisturizer i use absolue premium (both day and night). this stuff does not come cheap. but man oh man does it work better than anything else i've tried. i have a mild case of rosacea and it transformed my skin--returned it to it's most natural (and best) state.

another skin-care secret? i sleep with a humidifier. new york city winters are brutal and the heaters in these old apartments (new ones too, i imagine) will suck the moisture out of the air faster than you can will spring to come.  a humidifier helps hydrate the skin, as well as the throat. and during the summer the cool mist variety can do wonders in place of a traditional air conditioner.

am i beginning to sound vain, yet? that's okay. i'm okay with that. here's the thing. some of it's vanity. and some of it's not. the skin is the largest of the body's organs. it's worth taking care of. it's worth protecting agains the harmful rays of the sun. and it's worth investing in now so that when we're older we won't be thinking about plastic surgery, but marveling at all the fine lines we've worked hard to earn.

when applying my daily moisturizer, i never neglect the eye area--it's the most delicate skin on the face. i find clinique's all about eyes is a the best bang for your buck. it lightens the dark bags (and keeps the skin fresh.


eye base and liner

in a perfect world, the next step in the process is the application of eye makeup. this comes before concealer and foundation because often the shadow will deposit flurries which then defeats the purpose of the two products you've just applied.

for every day use i go with an eye base--a cream that goes on easily and allows eye shadow to adhere without getting stuck in the crease. and that's all. well, that and a little liner and mascara. the eye base (i use trish mcavoy's sand) gives the eye a definite color and brightness. and brightness in the eye area, along with a little definition (which is where the liner comes into play) is all i'm really after. to apply my liner i use a small angled brush and a dark plum and then just lay it down along the lash line. i don't stroke it, but simply lay it down, lift, lay it down again, adjacent to the first mark and on an on until i've done the length of my eyelid. does this make sense? see, the video would come in handy here.

tip: when i want a a more polished look i'll wet the brush before laying it in the liner (this allows for a more defined line).


brow set, eyelashes

after the base and liner i go for the kill: mascara!

my secret to long lashes lies in a little product that is not mascara, but lash grower. it's called lilash and can be ordered online. it runs about 120 dollars but make sure to google search for a coupon and enter the code at checkout. i am still on my first tube (i got it sometime in december) and have seen amazing results. now i use it about once a week, that's all.

there are all sorts of ways to put on mascara. often i place the brush just under my lash line, give it a wiggle and pull up. other methods include blinking down onto the wand or actually applying the mascara to the top of the lashes and then coming from underneath to de-clump. lost yet? because of the shape of my eyes, i give special attention to the outer corner lashes--making sure to maximize their length, giving the whole eye a bit of a winged effect.

i splurge on the lash-grower and save on mascara by using maybelline's volume express: the falsies.

another tip: when i have a really special occasion--a wedding to go to, or a big party, or if ever i just want to feel my absolute most beautiful i'll buy a drug-store pack of false lashes. they never fail to impress.


concealer and foundation

alright, we've made it to concealer! oh how i love some good concealer. i begin in the corner of the eye and work down along the line of my nose. if you've been here before you must have seen my fantastic pictures describing such. because we've already discussed it, i won't go into much detail. but i will say, for me concealer is the difference between feeling like i just woke up versus feeling like i can head out for whatever the day might bring. concealer is my tipping point of beauty--in the best possible way.

right now i'm using mary kay's concealer in yellow.

and now my favorite part: foundation. i used to hate foundation. i couldn't wear it without feeling overdone. but now that i am a woman of a certain age i see it for what it is: a blessed tool to give that long sought after glow! i kid a little, but not really. foundation doesn't need to be heavy to really do it's job. in fact, i suggest that it not be. right now i'm using trish mcevoy's even skin foundation in shade number two. i apply it with a great stippling brush.

of possible beauty feaux-pas i consider the strong mark of foundation on the jaw-line into a make-up free neck among the worst. you know what i mean don't you? the line of demarcation between covered and not? it is easy to avoid this buy choosing the right shade for your skin, making sure to diffuse the line as you apply the makeup by actually getting foundation on your neck, and if all else fails take a little of your daily cream and rub it along the jaw-line.

foundation for me is always seasonal. sometimes i want to wear a powder. sometimes a liquid. sometimes i want to appear dewey, other times i want a good matte, polished look. whenever i use a powder foundation, i always apply a primer first. may i suggest any primer by smashbox? in fact, there is a theory that many of the mineral makeups out there will, over time, cut your skin and thus enlarge your pores because the minerals themselves are not perfectly cylindrical. i don't know how much truth there is to this, but i will say that with a primer you don't have to worry one way or the other. primer is also great because it creates a really even canvas on which to put the powder--and it will extend the life of your makeup--both how it stays on during the day, as well as how long a container will last. primer means less is more!

i want to take a minute to talk about investing in a really great set of brushes. brushes, good ones, do not come cheap. but in my humble opinion they make all the difference in how the makeup goes on and therefore the overall effect. brushes should last a good long time so don't be afraid to build up your collection slowly. i ask for the ones i want for my birthday or christmas. i would rather use a really great brush to apply a maybelline (or any other drugstore) powder foundation then a bad brush to apply the most luxurious and beautiful makeup that money can buy.



after applying foundation i apply bronzer just below the apples of my cheeks and work my way up just under or on the cheekbone--this step i do more by feel than anything else. i make sure to get a little swipe on my forehead, nose, and chin (all places the sun naturally hits).



i then take the side of the brush and swipe on some 1. bronzer (again) and 2. blush. only during spring and summer do i mix the bronzer and blush together on the brush. i apply this to the apples of my cheeks.

okay. almost there.

most move onto the lips from here and that's that. but i...well, i go for the eyebrows.

i used to get my eyebrows done at any run-of-the-mill nail salon. now i go to the benefit brow bar. it's about twice as much (where before it was ten, i now pay twenty {add 5 bucks for a tip}). but like my friend erica said, it's like a haircut for your eyebrows and we girls now that a good haircut is worth investing in. and wow, do the people at that brow bar know their stuff. they've changed the shape of my brows and it really makes a difference in my overall look. daily, i fill in my brows using the benefit brow set. i like my brows full and just ever-so-slighly-unruly.

most days for my lips i use trish mcevoy's luxe lip balm-i like what the yellowish tint does to the color of my lips (and it's got spf!). sometimes, if i'm feeling especially spicy i'll apply a lipstick (i most like those by smashbox, nars, and make up forever). the only time i ever line my lips is if i'm doing a deep red--in which case i always line my lips--because the red tends to bleed.

and that's it.

phew. you exhausted? me too.

in truth though, all this takes ten, fifteen minutes, tops.

and now for the real thought to leave you with:

yes, i invest in my appearance. but for me, makeup and skincare is just the tip of the iceberg when investing in beauty.

the best brand of beauty is an outward reflection of happiness. so i eat well, dance around to noah & the whale in nothing but my nickers, and take time to do what i love.

on beauty

when Reachel first emailed me about this lovely series she posed a question that i loosely translated to what makes you feel beautiful? and then quickly mis-remembered as what make you feel sexiest?

(there's some kind of insight into my core right there).

the question could not have come at a better time. (precisely because i was feeling anything but).

beauty is a funny thing, isn't it? a fickle mistress. what i've come to understand is that feeling you're beautiful and knowing you're beautiful are entirely different things. and i'd take the feeling any day of the week, because the feeling--that inner spark--well, that informs everything.

so i took Reachel's question and i went for a jog (literally). and as my feet pounded away at the pavement, and the hudson river rolled past on my left, i made a list. and that list made one thing very clear: i feel most beautiful when i am most myself (which as it turns out is also when i feel sexiest--for me there is no difference between the two), when i am fully engaged in this chaotic and turbulent and wholly exciting world we live in.

what does that mean?

feeling pretty

well, it means i feel most beautiful when i'm laughing really hard. out loud. and even more so when i'm telling a good joke or a good story--watching the eyes of the people i love crinkle in response to something i've said? heaven. few things trump that.

i feel most beautiful while eating a green apple, after an impossible exercise class, with my hair pulled into a high, messy bun, as i traipse about lower manhattan giving thanks for a body that moves and runs and spins--holy heck is the body a miraculous thing!

or when listening to good music. or waiting for the subway with a good book in hand. reading and understanding and reveling in a poem that three years ago made no sense to me (walt whitman's "song of the open road"). watching the rain move in over chicago as portugal. the man plays "so american". standing arms and mouth open to welcome said rain. imbibing a hot drink on a cold day. a walk through central park on a cool morning. furtively glancing at the guy at the end of the bar and then catching him mid-stare. or a nod from the bass player from that one alaskan band i so love.

doing something, anything, that a year ago i couldn't (or rather, was too afraid) to do. heading into the belly of the beast of fear and coming out the other end makes me feel beautiful in a way that nothing (and i do mean nothing) can touch.

what i look like will change with time. my weight will fluctuate. the lines on my forehead will crease. the gray hairs will take hold and multiply. but my mind, my intelligence, the light behind my eyes--that (God willing) will remain. more than that (again, God willing) it will grow and burgeon. it is my belief that my intelligence and my desire to live life fully--to live imperfectly but honestly, makes me wholly myself.  and the more i can align myself with my value system, the more i balance on the axis of who i am--the more i know what i want and what i believe in, the more beautiful i feel.

and there, on that axis, perched atop it all--balancing on the bounties of this life (both good and bad) well, then, from there, the opinions of others regarding what i look like will matter only with my consent. it will be how i feel from within my body--inside the sweet-spot of life that will dictate my response. i won't need a mirror or a scale or any of the trappings to provide me with what i've somehow always known but often doubted: that i am, in fact, yes, beautiful.

on beauty.

i am so honored to be over here today. talking about beauty. and how it has almost nothing what to do with what i look like and definitely nothing to do with what the scale says or how my thighs do or do not jiggle when i attempt a morning jog (or walk).

i think reachel is glorious. all you have to do is read her about section to know why. and this series? well, if only we could all put down the pages of glossy magazines, cease the comparisons, and hook into what makes us--each, individually--really gorgeous.

there, in the open.

i've not been feeling beautiful.

of late, i've not been feeling beautiful.

it has something to do with an out-of-sorts-in-my-own-skin issue.

you know the feeling, don't you? you must?

you don't? oh, lucky, lucky you.

and beauty is a funny thing--a fickle mistress, if you will. she has little to do with the knowing you're beautiful, and almost everything to do with feeling you are.

because all the evidence in the world could stockpile against you: men staring on the train, lovely guys in your own life who pull you close, push your hair behind your ear.

and objectively you understand. that others perceive you as such. as beautiful. and you're grateful for that. really. you know how lucky you are. but dammit, you just don't feel it. so there exists a discord, a disharmony.

and such is the disharmony that neither ryan gosling or portugal. the man's john gourley (ma {that's "my" with a funny accent} soup du jour) could walk right up, take you in their arms, whisper into your ear that they've never before scooped up a stranger, but they saw you and were overcome.

and it wouldn't make a lick of difference. not a lick.

(okay, well, maybe a lick. i mean, hello. ).

but you know what i mean, don't you? you gain three pounds and suddenly you're bigger than you've ever been (lie! but that's how it feels). and those three pounds signal dull skin and hair in need of a trim and you do all the right things and you take long baths to calm yourself, but you wake morning after morning (for a month, or some brief, but seemingly interminable amount of time) and you think, still? because you know, even before climbing out of bed, you know that you're not yet yourself again. you're you at your worst (lie! lie! but such is the pull of the mind).

last wednesday, was it wednesday? oh heck, it doesn't matter and if it does, well then i'm starting to tell stories like my father and that's the beginning of the end...okay. so. sometime last week i went out with my girlfriend, ashlea, after work. she was meeting up with her lovely boyfriend john and his friends. and i wasn't feeling beautiful and i wasn't dressed appropriately, but heck. that's life. and i know that often to come out of it, you have to head into it, whatever it is. so i waited for ashlea outside the C train at 50th street. i was speaking on the phone when another man approached the station, on his phone, and lingered there for a moment before heading down. 

and now, when i say this man rivaled the ryan gosling, john gourley level of ability-to-raise-my-blood-pressure, you'll have to believe me. his hair was a bit too long, blonde, and curling at the edges. he was like tom brady, but not so pretty. a new york hipster-grunge-tom-brady. oh, that doesn't sound good? oh no. believe me when i say it was. it was. good. 

so there we were, both on our phones, outside of the station. both poised to head downtown. and i gave him the eye. kind of. (usually when i think i've given a guy the eye, they don't get it). but i gave him my-version-of-the-eye and he looked for a minute and then continued on. and i felt really good about it. about the manner and length of his look's reciprocity. 

so as he moved to the steps to head into the mouth of the subway, i turned to give myself a metaphorical pat on the back, and happened to look down.

at my bra.

my exposed bra.

my oh-your-top-button-came-undone-so-your-bra-is-out bra. 


well. that's life. 

and it's worth a good laugh.

and turns out, nothing makes me feel so beautiful as a good laugh, especially when it's at myself. 

(photo credits unknown.
if you do know, pass the info my way.
they are not mine, do not belong to me.)