my hobbies include skin-care

10 Years Later, I’ve Finally Perfected My (Actually Very Subtle) Makeup Routine

Photo: Christian Anwander

And I thought writing for a living was horrible.

Try applying makeup.

I have played around with it for years, inevitably with poor results: The skin runny and yellowy, the apple of the cheeks really looking like an overripe apple, eyebrows too black, mascara on the lashes in clumps, blood-red lipstick that could be a stand-in for a stop sign. I bought a lot of Tom Ford because I am a Tom Ford slut. Sometimes I looked like the devil’s apprentice, which I enjoyed on the right occasions. But too often I looked clownish. So I recently did what I should have done ten years ago. I went in for a makeover at Blue Mercury.

With the divine intervention of a makeup artist, I got the basics of what I am supposed to be doing. I also felt deliciously pampered; few things in life are more satisfying than the sweep of a soft brush across the skin with sweet-scented powder. I urge all straight white males to try it: You won’t become a better person — it’s way too late for that — but you will look and smell better. And I promise you will not grow a vagina.

The only thing I told my makeup artist Christina was that I wanted an everyday regimen, simple to apply and subtle. I did ask about products specifically for men and she told me that the difference as far as she could tell was only in the packaging: a lot of black and brown to give the illusion of virility. This what she used, which is now what I use myself. Note: I realize this is all Trish McEvoy, but it is neither an ad nor the result of my ignorance. I’ve tried lots of different makeup products, including Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick (traceless if you like expressway streaks down your face that blend about as subtly as mattress padding); Boy de Chanel foundation (nice but in liquid and difficult to apply evenly); 4VOO Face and Body Bronzer (too much for every day, but in the right mood Tinted Shimmer is hot) and like this stuff below much more than anything else.

Step 1: Serum

Yes, you are correct: This is not technically makeup, but it’s a necessary part of the routine. It’s a moisturizer with concentrated hyaluronic acid and peptides to help reduce lines and enhance the complexion, which any makeup artist will tell you is good to slap on before starting. Don’t use a lot — just a couple of dabs on your finger — then press into the skin. If you rub, it can heighten your beard bristles, and that is not a happy look. The serum feels light, which I like.

Step 2: Under-eye concealer

Now we’re getting into real concealer. This lessens those sad circles of stress and strife and too many shots without satisfaction. Apply it in an upside-down triangle with the apex slightly below the under-eye. (I had never previously applied it correctly, rubbing it directly into the circles, and it always came out too thick and too obvious.)

Step 3: BB cream

A beauty balm (or tinted moisturizer) that acts as my foundation. I stipple — meaning I dab the balm on in dots (I have often dreamed of stippling) — and blend it into the skin with Trish McEvoy’s #76 Perfect Foundation Brush. I try to spread evenly and judiciously, which is somewhat tricky for the neophyte. In the past I gobbed on too much in certain spots. Or I started by applying too little, then attempted to compensate by lathering on so much it looked like I had just submerged my head in a giant vat of goo. I use Shade 1, but you may need something else. It has SPF, too.

Step 4: Finishing powder

The finishing powder helps everything stay on the face, rather than brush off when you absent-mindedly scratch your cheek. I use the same brush to put it on in a downward sweep.

Step 5: Bronzer

Bronzer for me is not about tanning but adding color along the contours of the face with the added zing of highlighting the cheek apple. I start on the lower jawline with the brush, using both colors, and work my way up to the forehead along the edges of my face. Then blend a little bit in to the cheekbone. That’s it.

Steps six through eight involve looking in the mirror, feeling great about what you see, and being scared shitless about recreating it. Actually, I mostly liked the way I looked after I did my own makeup the first time. My face looked a little lighter and a little younger. The foundation did a good job of filling in the vicissitudes of past acne and bumps from grime and pollution. The bronzer added a touch of color. How can anyone resist the very concept of translucent powder?

I was given a very thorough diagram by Christina detailing how to apply each thing, which made an enormous difference. I still make some mistakes. I am not sure I apply enough. I want it to be subtle and for every day — but for fuck’s sakes, of course I want to be noticed.

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A Decade Later, I’ve Perfected My Morning Makeup Routine