Beauty Q&A: Too Many Choices

I am tall, 5’11”, and comfy with it. My boyfriend is 5’10” and altogether fantastic — I’m comfy with that, too. I know I will always just be taller, in life and in pictures, a fact which is amplified by my enormous head and Tammy-Taylor-wannabe hair. I wear low heels on occasion … I just don’t want to tower; towering is bad. Outsiders always say: it’s so great! Everything is wonderful when you’re taller than everyone else all the time! Sure. And maybe it will be, but I’m not there yet. 6′ is my cap.

This spring/summer: graduation, parties, weddings — lots of picture-taking events requiring nicer shoes. How do I pull off pretty dresses and flat sandals without being too beachy? I could do a low heel, maybe 1″ — 1.5″, but I don’t like kitten heels all that much. Got any good options for me? How do I skip the big heel, and not feel dumpy and underdressed next to girls in 3″+ wedges? Am I on the right track? Bonus challenge: barely a grad school graduate will have to mean they cost less than $100.

Your hair sounds magnificent. I was just gearing up to suggest all kinds of really cute, low- or no-heeled sandals (the ones you picked are okay if a bit pricey and too Lilly Pulitzer for my taste) when I got to “not feel dumpy and underdressed next to girls in 3”+ wedges?” It’s possible, sure. Anything is possible! But the thing that makes you feel dumpy when you’re not wearing heels and the person next to you is, is that you’re not wearing heels and they are. Heels aren’t just about what they do to the look of your feet, they completely change your posture for the better, visually speaking. (If this isn’t the case and you feel dumpIER in heels you may need to work on your walk.)

Point 2: towering is not bad. (Ah-ha, I defied you!) Stop telling yourself that and stop shrugging it off when people tell you how great being tall is; it sounds like you could use a little borrowed optimism about it. You say you’re comfy with your height, but only for another inch? What’s the difference? Personally, when I put on 5″ heels it’s like a switch flips and you might as well just put me on the pole because I am going to WORK IT AND BE SEEN. At 6’+ I feel like I’m literally on top of the world and guess what? You’re all losing your hair. There is not a single person on Earth who is going to look at you at 6’2″, shoulders back, butt lifted, sexy calves, and be like, “Uh, check out Lurch in the heels over there.” No one even knows who Lurch is these days!

Point 3: Shoes aside for barely a second, just make sure the rest of you is put together and you won’t look too beachy or casual at special events. Like, don’t do windswept hair and a gauzy dress — wear something tailored and try a more refined hair and makeup look. And get a pedicure!

Point 4: You don’t have to wear heels, I guess. Haha! You don’t! They’re killing you. Keeping in mind that there’s almost no way for anyone, no matter how tall, to not look a little “dumpy” in comparison to a hottie in stacked wedges, you could always, as you were hoping, wear embellished flats. Or go halfway and try a low wedge or heel that is a little more substantial than a pointy kitten heel. (Most kitten heels are not “in” right now, so if you care about being “in,” throw them in the back of your closet for the next few years and wait for my signal.) The Target brand Merona makes really affordable mid-height heels of all sorts. They’re not the most WOW shoes in the world, but there are usually one or two pairs that you’ll see and think “those are cute and $25 and I’d wear them pretty much every day” which is as good as shopping gets. (PS: here’s a $15 version and a $19 version of the $115 sandals you were considering. “Jane, those are not the same.” “They seem the same to me. Do with that what you will.”)

Okay, I think we can all agree that

eye shadow primer makes the list of Best Things Ever. I can see the utility of foundation primer as well, even though I don’t really use it myself. BUT, I can’t be alone in thinking the beauty industry has started to fuck with us in the things-that-require-priming category. Mascara primer, lipstick primer, concealer primer, I actually saw a brightening product meant to be applied before foundation primer. A primer primer. So, realistically, on a daily basis, what part of my face needs to be primed?

No part. Seriously! Primer, like any amazing invention, is there to fill a need. If you don’t have the need, you don’t need to fill it, right? So, for example, if your eye shadow instantly creases and then melts off your face before you even get to work in the morning, get you some eye shadow primer. If not, get you a cappuccino, girl!

If that whole eye shadow thing just made you go “Wait, what!? Eye shadow isn’t supposed to melt off during my commute?”, you should read this short list of some of other things primers can help with:

(Primer primer is just stupid.)

Do you share any of those concerns? If not, just go about your business. Or how about you take the money you’re saving and buy all the mascaras in the world, try them for a week each, and report back to us with your findings?

Any recommendations for a good (and hopefully inexpensive) eye makeup remover? I tend to use drugstore-bought Neutrogena or L’Oreal eye makeup removers, but it never seems to actually remove my eye makeup completely (maybe because I use waterproof mascara?). I also have sensitive, acne-prone skin so I am specific about my facial cleanser and steer clear of cold cream or overall face makeup-removing stuff. I usually have rings of leftover mascara/eyeliner smudged under my eyes after using the remover and then washing my face, which I sort of scrape off with a towel. That can’t be good for my under-eye-skin, right? Do other people not have this problem? Am I just too OCD about the little bits of leftover makeup around my eyes? I just hate having leftover makeup on my face when I’m sleeping and also sometimes I just want to wear no makeup but I feel like I have semi-permanent raccoon eyes.

Almay’s eye makeup remover pads are THE BEST. Get those, then do this:

1. Use one pad to lightly wipe off your lashes before you wash your face. Don’t scrub around and try to get everything off, just kind of dab at your waterproof mascara and loosen it up. You will have MAJOR raccoon eyes after this part.

2. Wash your face for long enough. NO ONE DOES THIS but I promise, promise, promise that once you do, you will be preaching it from the mountaintops or bar bathrooms. Get a good face wash that promises to remove makeup and lather it up with warm water on your face for at least ONE FULL MINUTE, if not longer. A minute is a really long time. Imagine swirling soap around your face for this long:

See? When you start, you’re thinking “Oh, a minute? Easy. That’s not long at all.” But then the hug comes at :35 and you’re like “I’d have to keep washing for another 25 seconds? This is going to take forever!” only really it’ll just take one minute in total, like I said. Be sure to concentrate on your eyes for some of that time, but gently. You can probably already see how removing your eye makeup with soap and water is a lot nicer to your skin than removing by essentially sanding it off with a dry towel.

3. Pat your face dry on a white towel to test if you got everything. If for some reason you still have eye makeup residue under your eyes, learn how to count and buy soap that works! JK, I’m sure you did everything perfectly. Take another of those Almay pads and wipe it away. It should come off pretty easily now.

How do you choose an eye shadow palette?? I just … I can handle the rest of it: the lipstick, the blush, the eyeliner, the mascara, but damn, eye shadow intimidates me. And there are SO MANY palettes and SO MANY COLORS and I walk into Sephora and just sort of collapse under the weight of a thousand color-choices. Then, obviously, I retreat to the comfort of the lipstick sections and end up with another hot pink number, the purchase of which lets me feel as though I’ve accomplished something. My eyes are hazel. My skin is pale and freckly. People keep telling me purples are the way to go but that sounds scary. Thoughts?

Your best bet is to reverse engineer it by starting with the look you want rather than hoping to walk into a lightening bolt of inspiration once you’re already inside Sephora. (Although it is amazing when that happens!) So, first, why do you even want to wear eye shadow? If you’re just buying it and trying to wear it because it’s there and you feel like you have to wear all the makeups, don’t. You can totally get away with being the woman who wears lipstick, blush, eyeliner, and mascara. That is a complete look! That is more of a look than most of us bother with.

If you do have a particular look in mind, find a photo of a model who is rocking it and try to determine which colors they’re wearing and if they have any sheen. I find it’s less helpful to read the exact name brand and color the makeup artist in the shoot used for a number of reasons including the fact that they color correct the photos so what you see may not be what you get. Once you are like “Ohhh, she has a little purple but mostly a beige and a little sparkly pinkish highlight?” write those shades down and hand them to the salesperson manning the door at Sephora. Or, better yet, show them the picture of the look you’re trying to get! You could also wander up and down the aisles yourself, but it sounds like your might have an issue with impulse control (Hello, fellow Sephora VIBs! Anyone? Anyone?) and your pocketbook could use a break. Just go in with a mission.

As for brands, I personally go in for Kat Von D’s eye shadow palettes and this one from Anastasia that has your purples in it also promises to make you younger somehow.

Previously: What’s That Smell?

Do you have a question for Jane?