Trick, Please: Dark Circles, Hair Ties and Your Favorite Cleansers

In Depth

Each week, we’ll answer your beauty-related questions, even the dumb ones.

1. What’s the best way to cover dark circles under your eyes if you don’t really wear any other makeup? I have lots of freckles, so I don’t use any makeup on my face. I haven’t figured out how to cover my dark circles without needing something to blend a concealer into. I always end up looking like a reverse-raccoon with glowing circles under my eyes.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about writing a piece entitled something like “Dark Circles Don’t Exist” but in chatting about it with a reader, I was made aware of this article which was published right here years ago saying, essentially, the same thing. Read it and stop worrying about dark circles. I cast a spell on you to never mention them again!

Still thinking about them? Okay, fine, there are two things to consider here: product and application technique. You want something light-reflecting but with not-too-much coverage. A makeup artist once told me that YSL’s magical Touché Eclat (purported by Sephora to be ” like eight hours of sleep and an instant pick-me-up in a magic wand”) was the first of its kind — a semi-sheer illuminating concealer — but that Clarin’s had improved upon the formula in their Instant Light Brush On Perfector. (Plus, the Clarin’s version is a little cheaper.) Trish McEvoy’s Instant Eye Lift is yet another option. For a drug store dupe, try Revlon’s version, their PhotoReady Eye Primer + Brightener.

With the right tool in hand, let’s head back to good ole Trish. I swear by her triangle method, shown here:

2. Years ago you recommended the Sephora ouchless hair elastics. Those were so great! So great that Sephora has stopped making them. I don’t really want ribbon hair elastics – I want something unobtrusive and functional, like the old hair elastics. Can you recommend something else?

Sometimes I feel like Rip Van Winkle, only the mom version. Like, I got pregnant and then *poof* it’s three years later and Sephora has stopped making my favorite shit and also everyone is suddenly wearing those ribbon hair ties. What ARE those, and why? To me, they just look like you tied a piece of elastic ribbon around your hair (which is exactly what you did) and that’s fine, I guess, but let’s not get too excited about it, okay? Why are they everywhere and why are the ones in the big fish bowl at the check out counter at Dry Bar in Pasadena a billion dollars apiece? (Lay into these sentiments in the comments.)

Anyway, guess what? You’re in luck! A company called Blax has come to the rescue. Not only are their elastics almost identical to the Sephora ones (RIP) but they come in a variety of colors, too. Enjoy!

3. I am getting married in the fall, and am trying to figure out whether to a) do my makeup myself, b) have a friend do it, c) pay someone, or d) other options I may not have thought of. I know I’m going to be photographed a lot and I want to make sure I look good, but the main issue here is that I typically wear fairly natural-looking makeup and the only liquid foundation experience I have is from doing school plays a lonnng time ago. I’m VERY pale and often get washed out in photos, and I have a vague sense that different or more foundation might help with that? I don’t know. I also don’t want to worry about getting makeup on people when I hug them.

So I suppose my question is really: “Should I wear liquid foundation for my wedding, and if so, and who should put it on my face?” Hope you can help!

This is such a fun thing to think about, isn’t it? My overall advice about weddings is to go all out. Just fucking GO FOR IT. If you can afford to indulge on that day, do it. Hire a makeup artist. The best part of this plan is that every (good) wedding makeup artist will be sure to do a trial run before the wedding so you can make changes, see what rubs off, and get a sense of what the makeup will feel like on your face all day. Plus, it’s just fun to have someone do your makeup and it ups the pomp and circumstance of the whole shebang. So, if you want a flawless look, that’s my first pick for you.

Alternatively, if you’d rather not feel all gunked up and out of your comfort zone, you or a friend can do a lighter application focusing less on foundation and more on warming up your complexion for photos. Because you’re someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup and you’re pale, I suggest this economical Orgasm blush and bronzer combo from Nars. Play around with brushing the blush onto the apples of your cheeks (the parts that turn all round and plump when you smile) and swipe some bronzer on your temples, under your cheekbones, and willy nilly all over with a light hand. Do the rest of your makeup as your normally (rarely) would and take a few trial photos in bright daylight. Good enough? No?

You could try a combination of both suggestions if you’re willing to get your pro photos taken before the wedding. How this’ll work is you’ll hire a makeup artist to do up your face for the photos, run around town before the wedding getting all your important snaps, and then remove the heavy camouflage and reapply your normal, everyday makeup before the Big Event begins. This way you’ll feel like yourself and be more comfortable hugging and kissing everyone, but you’ll also have some gorgeous images of your perfect face for posterity.

4. I have fucked up skin. It’s too oily for cleansers for sensitive skin and too sensitive for cleansers for oily skin. I’ve tried cheap stuff and I’ve tried expensive stuff. What kind of cleanser works well on sensitive, acne prone skin?

Let’s crowdsource this one. I’ll start: Your skin sounds kind of like mine, so I’ll tell you what I do and you can try it. I swear by Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser. I only wash my face once a day, before bed, and I wash it for ONE WHOLE ENTIRE LONG MINUTE, you hear me? ONE WHOLE MINUTE. Then rinse. This cleanser removes my makeup and it contains salicylic acid to fight acne, plus it somehow doesn’t give me that super-tight, dry feeling afterward.

I follow it with whatever serum I snagged a free sample of and then a nice moisturizing night cream like this one from Olay (or this one from La Mer, if you’re fancy). You’d think that oily skin can’t handle a heavy cream, but blah blah science, something about over-stripping causing your skin to produce more oil and blah blah more science. Just try it?

Do you have a beauty question? Send us an email.

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