Trick, Please: Your Beauty Problems, Solved

In Depth

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

1. Sweat pants. I’m wearing the same pair I bought in college. They’re gray and paint-stained and hideous. My view on sweat pants has long been that they’re fairly shameful, so I can’t bring myself to spend money on them.

BUT… My husband patted my butt this morning in the kitchen, got that mischievous look in his eye, and confessed that there’s something about sweats that he finds pretty sexy. (I know.) It made me think it’s time to up my loungewear game. We live in the cold, barren north, so scampering around in little chemises is a no-go. I have a hunch that there’s something out there that grown, effortlessly sexy women wear for puttering around the house, but I don’t know what it is or where to find it. Any advice?

One of my favorite things to shop for is bootylicioius loungewear. You yourself admit that this is the kind of stuff you keep around for decades, so why not invest a little time and money in finding the right butt-patting bait?

Okay, laugh all you want pals, but the first place I’m going to send her is to Juicy Couture. Shut up! They have sexy fits down. And there’s always a great sale on their site. Just try and make fun of these. Avoid pants with words on the butt and you’re all good.

Next, J. Crew does a great job of melding sexy and comfy. I’m currently wearing these pants from the outlet store with a robe and tank top and I’m feeling my look.

You can spend a bunch of money on the perfect sweat set or very little money on this nice combo from Target (check all the 5 star reviews!) that I’m not sure qualifies as “sweats” but will still keep you semi-warm and looking “ready.” Once you make swex a goal, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

2. This is a bit embarrassing, but I’m 33 and don’t know anything about makeup. I went to the makeup counter at a fancy store, and girl working there thought I was clearly too stupid for words, then tried to sell me three of everything because I obviously can’t live without any of it, and the whole thing was humiliating by the end and I left without buying anything.

So, two questions:

What are the staple items? If I’m just going to start with two or three makeup items, what should they be? There’s an intimidating amount of stuff out there but I’d like to start with the basics, rather than buying and trying everything all at once.

And what items should I invest in, and for what items should I just buy the cheap version until I find exactly what I like? I hear things along the lines of “don’t bother with cheap mascara!” but what about other stuff?

I get swindled by those makeup counter monsters on the regular, so it’s got nothing to do with being a newbie. They’re just really good (at making you feel like shit). Don’t worry, we’re going to take care of you. Have a seat.

Three products you must have: how the hell would I know?! It really depends on what you want to cover up, play up, and sex up. For me, when my skin looks great, I feel like I can forego a lot of other products. For my best friend, if she’s without lipstick, she is unmoored. So, what do you like? Listen to yourself and not anyone else.

Staple items include a foundation or tinted moisturizer, blush and/or bronzer, and mascara, eyeliner or a brow pencil. (Although now with the no-makeup makeup look, liner is taking a back seat to delicate shadows.) If you have a strong brow, a little mascara is all you need. If you’ve got dark, long lashes, then you might want a brow pencil to fill-in where you’ve over-plucked. This brow/eye pencil combo is a great choice for versatility. As far as lip staples are concerned, tinted lip balm or plain Vaseline work great on most people, but if lipstick is your schtick, go for it.

Where to spend the Big Bucks? As I said, for me, my skin is my problem area so I go a little nuts on the perfect foundation. Which product do you feel makes the most difference to your look? Invest there. Another rule of thumb: spend more on classics, go cheap on trends that you’re not sure about. No need to spend tons of money on blue mascara until you know you are That Lady Who Wears Blue Mascara.

3. I just had gel polish put on for the first time and I love it… so far. What are gel’s pros and cons?

All cons, no pros. Hate it. Hate it so much. Had a panic attack because of it. Like a screaming, crying, full-on panic attack and got a cramp in my hand scraping that shit off and had to beg my husband to take over. Plus it chipped the first day. The worst. But how do I really feel?

I really feel like it’s a product made for a very specific customer and that customer is not me. That customer has a strange combination of attributes: they care enough about their nails to invest many dollars and hours at a time every few weeks to have them professionally done, but they don’t care enough about their nails to want to change the paint color more often than that or wear crazy nail art or to take care of their precious nail and skin health. Gels can destroy your nails and expose you and your nail technician to harmful UV rays. And think about what goes into taking them off: soaking your fingers in straight acetone for many, many minutes until it only half melts and the rest has to be planed off. I dunno! Doesn’t sound good to me.

You’re better off using a quality base and top coat to get some longevity out of regular polish. BUT COME AT ME. I’d really like to hear it, gel devotees.

4. I’ve been dying my medium brown hair a more dramatic dark brown for years, but now I’m letting it grow out so I can go back to my natural color. Any suggestions for how to deal with the fading hair color and the red undertones that are becoming increasingly prominent? Should I use a semi permanent color, color enriching shampoo, or something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m a poor grad student so everything has to be done at home.

My first thought was to use what I use, which is this Bumble & Bumble red-neutralizing shampoo and conditioner, but apparently they don’t make it any more? I hope that’s not because it’s killing me. Ahhhh! What am I going to do!? Supposedly purple shampoo works to cut brassiness, too, but I’m not sure how well on darker brown hair. Maybe add a few drops of food-coloring to your regular shampoo? Just kidding. (OR AM I?)

I know you said you don’t want to go to a salon, but this can be remedied pretty easily with a professional rinse every few months and rinses are not that expensive. You can find places that offer them for $10-20, which is not that much more than what you’d spend on a box at home and if it doesn’t turn out right, you can ask for a free do-over.

Any other witchcraft from our readers?

Top image via Juicy Couture.

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