Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sexism: Forever 21, you’ve failed me. (Updated)

Disclaimer: This is an opinion post. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's awesome. No, really; I think it's awesome when people challenge my beliefs, and I invite you to. I only ask that you keep an open mind. I try my hardest to always be civil and respectful when dealing with the opinions and beliefs of others, and I like to think that others will mirror that courtesy.

There are several disappointing stereotypes in society today. One of the most disappointing stereotypes I encounter in my daily life is the problem society has with math-brained girls. It's generally expected that women are supposed to be interested in the humanities, while men are supposed to thrive in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.
I don't believe this is a conscious "problem" with females who are good at math; I do believe that we, as a collective society, automatically assume that females are not as mathematically competent as males are.

I went shopping at Forever 21 on Sunday, and I saw the shirt pictured above. I turned red and almost walked out of the store on the spot; I was really upset. There's something about it that just doesn't feel right to me.

Why isn't there a shirt like this for men? Why isn't there a shirt for females that declares an allergy to English class? What could possess a young woman to proudly declare her mathematical incompetency in the name of fashion?

Since when is it considered cute to be "allergic" to mathematics?

I don't think this is a tasteful shirt design. I don't think we, as a society, should be letting women give into the stereotype that they'll never be any good at math. I don't think we, as a society, should allow anyone to write off their academic failures as "allergies." Some people aren't good at math, and that's okay - I just don't think it's tasteful to create a shirt that loudly and proudly proclaims that the woman wearing it isn't "mathy."

Ladies, please; don't sell yourself short. You have so much more to be proud of than the fact that you don't like math.

To all the mathy girls out there: I promise, they'll understand us someday.

UPDATE: 9/13
It seems that Forever 21 has pulled this "Allergic to Algebra" shirt. Awesome!

Related: 'I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do  it for me' on TODAYMoms

Friday, August 19, 2011

Waking Up with Makeup

So, you stayed up wayyy too late. And now it's morning. And you have somewhere important to be. How will you ever look awake in time?

We all (hopefully) know the classic tricks, like a light shadow on the inner corners of your eyes or an extra coat of mascara. If you're working on a tight time budget, though, you need a concise look that will get the job done, helping you "look like yourself" without making you late.

This isn't poop; it's a face scrub. Get it right.

First, you're going to want to start out by exfoliating. When you're asleep, your body gets rid of dead skin and replaces it with new, fresh cells. These cells are younger, healthier, and are a key to looking awake. If you missed a few hours of sleep, your skin is going to need some help getting red of old, dead cells. Exfoliation will be your skin's lifesaver. Added bonus: not only will exfoliating your skin expose a new, fresh layer of skin, but it will also stimulate your skin, helping you feel more awake. This will also stimulate your skin, causing it to produce a little excess oil. This excess oil will help moisturize your skin, which is also going to help you look bright and energetic.
What should you look for in a face scrub? There are a lot of great exfoliants out there, but you'll want to avoid the ones with extra drying chemicals. Your best bet is to look for a scrub with as many ingredients you can recognize and pronounce as possible. You don't want to use anything that is forced to include a "drug facts" panel because it includes salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or any other drying chemicals. It's going to be nearly impossible to find a completely natural scrub, so don't stress too much about that; just make sure that you aren't using something labeled 
Note: I strongly recommend that you limit yourself to exfoliating less than 4 times a week.
I'm particularly fond of the classic St. Ives Apricot Scrub, but I've also had great experiences with homemade sugar scrubs. Google around to find a recipe that works for you!

If you're in a major rush, tinted moisturizers will get the job done pretty well.

After you've exfoliated, you'll want to moisturize your skin before you apply any makeup. Freshly moisturized skin provides a perfect, smooth base area for your makeup to adhere to. The kind of moisturizer you use will be determined by your skin type, but I'm really loving Mary Kay's Velocity moisturizer right now.
If you don't have time to hydrate and even out your skin, you can combine your moisturizer and foundation into one step with a tinted moisturizer. I don't normally recommend a tinted moisturizer for use as a normal moisturizer, but if you're in a rush it should work fine. I love Neutragena Healthy Skin Enhancer for sheer coverage. It's easy to blend and leaves a gorgeous, refreshed-looking finish. Dry-skinned girls, beware: it's probably not gonna do great things for you in the moisture department.
If you don't have a dedicated tinted moisturizer in your arsenal, you don't need to spring $20+ for a designer brand. If you have a moisturizer and some foundation (liquid or loose powder will work best), you can blend them together on the back of your hand to make your own.

You may or may not need to use concealers to "wake up" your look.

Your eyes will be the first part of your face to show how tired you are. Not everyone needs concealers, but chances are that you'll want to use at least a little bit to brighten up your eye area. A yellow-toned concealer will help counteract blue undereye circles; warmer, peachier concealers will brighten up more purple- or brown-toned darkness in the eye area. Girls with very fair skin can even try a pink-toned concealer.
If the idea of yellow or peach on your skin freaks you out, don't worry - you can top your colored concealer (known as corrector) with a more natural-looking, skin tone-correct concealers to dim the yellow glow.

(Note: dedicated beauty hackers can try using their cream blushes as correctors. Pick up a cream blush in a color that you'd normally use, and apply like you would any other pan concealer. It works, I swear!)

If you don't have time for anything else, please do not forget to groom your eyebrows.

Unless you have naturally flawless eyebrows, you'll want to fill them in. Your eyebrows are an essential part of every look; they frame your eyes and help determine the shape of your face. 
The way you choose to shape and groom your brows is entirely up to you. Depending on the shape you choose, you may or may not need a brow pencil, brow gel, brow wax, or powder. The makeup you use to groom your brows isn't as important as the fact that you do it. If the idea of playing with wax gets you motivated to groom your eyebrows, go for it. If you'd rather just grab a pencil and get it done, go for it.
In case you can't tell, I'm a huge believer in the power of a perfectly groomed brow.
If you choose not to, that's cool and all, but seriously.... just try it. It'll change your whole look, in a good way. :)

There are (almost) a million other quick tricks you could use to look "refreshed;" I obviously can't list them all. I can, however, give you one last quick tip on looking "awake" in a snap.

When moving on to the rest of your face, you should try to tone down your everyday look. If you normally wear a lot of black eyeliner, a little bit of brown liner will help you "look like yourself" faster than your normal routine would. Girls who normally take the time to hollow out their cheekbones will benefit from a dab of the best freaking cheek highlighter in the world. The end goal is to create a custom look that is a mildly subdued, quickly applied version of the look you wear from day-to-day.

If you've finished up your makeup and you still think you look like you were run over by a riding lawnmower, drink a glass of cold water, pay attention to your posture, and remind yourself that there is so much more to your beauty than your physical appearance. I mean that.

Of course, the most surefire way to look refreshed is to actually get a good night's sleep. A healthy girl is a glowing girl; eat a balanced diet, find a form of exercise that you love, drink enough water, and get a good 8 hours of sleep every night.

Disclaimer: I am affiliated with Motives Cosmetics. A sample of Mary Kay's Velocity® Lightweight Moisturizer was given to me for free by a Mary Kay affiliate for consideration for purchase, with the knowledge that I regularly recommend and promote products that I like. No company mentioned here has explicitly asked for a review of their products. I am not being compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Learn with me?

I've had a lot of "free time" over the past few months. With a feverish passion for new information and the entire Internet at my fingertips, I slowly found myself dipping into a new addiction: learning.
Yes, Miss MikGlitter, can't-tell-her-right-from-her-left-without-looking-at-her-hands, can-barely-blend-concealers, interested-exclusively-in-all-things-pink-and-sparkly, has found a hobby in...expanding her intellectual horizons? That was unexpected, right?

They say that you'll never fully understand how to do something until you teach someone else how to do it. I didn't quite believe this until I got into high school. I've always been a math-y girl; I'd rather spend hours solving your algebra problems than write an essay for you. (Dude...what am I even doing writing a blog post?!)
My math class during freshman year was designed to cover, almost entirely, material that I'd already learned. The "new" material was very easy for me to grasp. I was very easily bored, even slightly disappointed; I love learning, and I like math. Math class was one of my favorite things about school. Now what was I supposed to do for those 45 minutes every day? I couldn't pay attention to more than 10 minutes of the lesson.
Then, I looked around at my classmates. (Disclaimer: I went to an all-girls school, so... obviously all the people I'm going to be talking about are girls.) Several of them were struggling to keep up with the material that was second nature to me.
I finally found something to occupy that 6th period slot of time; rather than listening to the lesson, I began paying attention to the manner in which my teacher presented the material to her class. I was quickly able to shift the discussions in 5th period lunch from the whiny, typical freshman dramas, to math help.
Sure, I was helping girls with homework that would be due the next period, but where's the harm in that? We weren't copying work; nobody ever saw my completed assignments. I wasn't just telling them the answers, either.
I tried, as hard as a 5'2", socially incapable, 15-year-old girl can try, to genuinely help my friends understand why each problem was being solved the way it was. Eventually, my lunch table turned into a sort of "homework help" table, where girls, even the ones who weren't in my "group," would still stop by once in a while if they needed some math-y advice.
After a week or so of helping my friends with math, I decided that I was destined to be a math teacher, a dream that stayed alive for about an hour. (Paperwork isn't my thing. Creating notes, lesson plans, homework, and then grading it all!? Nightmare!) 

(tl;dr I helped my friends with their math homework when I was fifteen years old and it was surprisingly fun.)

By the time final exams rolled around, I realized something: I had learned to understand math...better. I understood it better than I probably would have, had I just done the bare minimum amount of work that was required. I understood that new material better, because I reviewed it frequently. I could, of course, go through every equation and get a correct answer without even thinking, but when I taught other people how to solve the problems, I had to think. I had to break the information down and simplify it. In the process of helping other people learn, I was finally able to fully understand what I was doing.

Of course, I could totally be looking back at this time in my life through rose-colored glasses: My lunch period freshman year could, in reality, have been a bunch of girls nodding their heads, feigning comprehension, waiting for me to slip up and accidentally deliver the correct answer... However, I like to think that my memories are extremely accurate.

I promise, that story has a point. 

I'm dedicated to learning. I know, it's good to learn something new every day, blah, blah, blah, but I'm talking about serious education, not just silly facts. I have the entire Internet at my fingertips. If I put enough time and effort into it, and Google is willing to help me along, there's a pretty good chance that I'll be able to learn it.  
Well, the funny thing is, it looks like I'm going to have even more free time over the next few months! That means I have lots of time to put lots of effort into learning lots of new things! (Aren't you glad I didn't say "tons?" That would be 6,000 lbs. of time, effort, and things)
Thus, I present to you: The MikGlitter Project.

Since I have all this "free time" before I can start school (which is a very complicated, personal situation that I'm not quite ready to publicly discuss at length), I'm going to create my own, personalized, self-driven education. The best part? After much deliberation, I've decided to bring you along for the ride.
What does that mean? Honestly, I don't know yet. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get really good at some assorted things and then be here to cheer you on as you also try to master said assorted things, but that's a very tentative plan and it could honestly change at any time.
All I know is: whatever I do, I'm gonna work my butt off to make sure it's top-quality, for you. Yes, you, the kind soul who took the time out of your busy life to read this excessively wordy blog post. Thank you. Strap on your Internet seatbelts; I think we're in for a fun ride.

I less than three you all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buy it Right - The First Time!

Buying makeup is very tricky. There is a ton of great makeup on the market today; it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Some high-end products can cost twenty times the price of a lower-end product. It's devastating to spend upwards of $30 on an ounce of product that doesn't work for you. The color isn't always right. Formulas aren't always one-size-fits-all. Certain products require a skill set that you might not have at the moment. Some products just don't live up to the hype.
For whatever the reason may be, most people have found themselves in a situation where their makeup purchases haven't been perfect. Over the years, I've formulated an informal "system" to cut back on unsatisfying purchases. My system isn't perfect, but I've gone a year and a half without making a makeup purchase that I regret, and I'm still going strong.
  1. Always read reviews online.
    Before I buy anything, I read every reputable-looking review I can find. Keep an eye out for the exact same review across multiple sites because, more often than not, those reviews are fake. If a review is "glowing," with no complaints or "heads-up" tips, you should be suspicious. Reviews that say the full name of a product over and over again should probably be ignored ("CertainBrand Awesome Series Expensive-Product 3100® is the best Product I've ever used!").
  2. Try the product first.
    I realize that this isn't always possible - drugstores and beauty stores don't always have proper testers available for use. However, whenever you have a chance to test out a product before buying it, please do! There is no better way to determine how much you'll like CertainBrand's foundation unless you've matched your color properly and checked it in multiple lighting situations. Wear your swatch for the entire day, if you can.
  3. Have your colors professionally matched.
    Again, I realize that this isn't always going to be possible, but if you're buying makeup from a counter, the sales representatives will be more than happy to help you find your perfect shade. I love buying makeup from department stores because the girls there will always exchange tips and tricks with me.
  4. Ask your friends.
    Your friends are going to be able to answer your questions about a product they own better than a Google search will because, well, they're your friends. You can probably use a little of the product you're interested in to get a feel for how it works (though I don't recommend sharing makeup!). 
  5. Wait before dubbing a product as a "fail."
    Would you believe that it took me three weeks to love my Benetint, that I didn't like Maybelline's The Falsies for a month, and that I passionately hated blending brushes for almost a year? Certain products just have a learning curve to them; no matter how good you are at applying makeup, there will always be new techniques to learn. If you bought something that isn't working out as expected, keep playing around with it until you've either found the problem with the product, or found the trick to making it work for you.
It's not always easy to "fix" the makeup that you don't like, but it's very simple to increase your chances of buying a product that you'll love. Happy shopping!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lip Color for the Seasons

Most of the maintenance in a makeup routine goes to the lips. Over the course of your day, your lip color will fade, feather, kiss, slip, and just plain fail. Every time the season changes, I get excited to swap out my go-to lip formula.

During the fall, I usually wear a lip stain and sheer gloss combo, which I really like because it's a subtle pop of color that isn't very difficult to maintain as I'm recovering from my summer makeup hiatus.
Once winter hits and I need more color on my face, I'll wear a "full lip;" liner, lipstick applied with a brush, maybe a little bit of lip gloss.
After the 5 months of winter in my area, I'm really sick of spending time every day creating and maintaining a flawless lip; once spring comes around, I'm ready to just use a bright/bold lipgloss and run out the door.
During the summer, I usually just stick with grabbing a tinted lip balm.

Of course, some days I'll stray from this plan - I've had lip balm days in December and I've worn lipstick on a warm June evening. However, this is a pretty general overview of what I wear on my lips.

Always remember that your makeup is no good if you're uncomfortable. If you aren't 100% confident with your lip color's staying power, feel free to just tone it down. There is no shame in "naked" lips :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hone Your Makeup Skills

"How did you get so good at makeup?!"

This is the #1 question I get asked almost every day. It took me a really long time to examine my past and fully understand just how I did it. Honestly, I never really "tried" to get into beauty - I didn't even realize how interested I was in makeup until people started asking me about it. I always assumed it was normal for girls my age to spend all their spare time and energy researching and testing out makeup.
Of course, I did already complete the "My Makeup Story" tag on YouTube, which can be viewed below...but that's an 11-minute video. As a lover of brevity, I figured it would be more than courteous to also let you read the story.

Basically, I got my start with makeup as an art form by reading magazines geared toward girls my age. I wasn't allowed to read "big-girl" magazines like Teen Vogue when I was little, so I'd read other magazines and (literally) memorize the articles about hair and makeup. I could still tell you how Girl's Life told me to achieve a vampire-perfect look, how to master the itty-bitty Katy Perry eyeliner wings, and how to style my hair on a lazy Monday.
I also practiced my hair and makeup techniques on anyone who would let me. I practiced on myself, especially before bed and before showers. (Please learn from my mistakes: do not test anything dangerous before bed. It turns out that waterproof liquid eyeliner doesn't work too well on my waterline, a bad situation that turned ugly when I was digging clumps of liner from my eyes at 2 AM. It wasn't fun.)

I'd definitely say that any aspiring makeup artist (or any girl who is just looking to expand her skills) should start by learning and testing. Aside from magazines and articles on the Internet, there are some awesome books out there about makeup.

For the super-beginner, I'd recommend Crazy Busy Beautiful by Carmindy. It covers all the basics of beauty and will give you a solid base of information to simplify your routine. This book also does a very good job of simplifying terminology and teaching newbies how to move out of their cosmetic comfort zone. It's entirely illustrated, which means no photo demonstrations, so I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who currently doesn't wear any makeup, but it's great for people who already have a little bit of knowledge and are looking to learn the basics. It's the size of a novel so it's great to just throw in your purse and read a few paragraphs whenever you have a spare moment.
If you already have a pretty good handle on makeup, you probably have a harder time finding sources of new information. Makeup Manual by Bobbi Brown is an amazing book. I've read this book cover-to-cover several times and I have the pages mostly memorized. There are a lot of basics as well, so I'd recommend this to the beginners and intermediates alike. The book itself is a little large so it's definitely not something you can run around town with, but it's great for a bedtime read, or just to flip through when you get bored.

When you get started with beauty, always keep in mind that you're beautiful without makeup. Cosmetics are just a tool to help boost your confidence, and your "naked" face is just a blank canvas - NOT a "before" picture. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How To: Clean makeup brushes

Makeup brushes are fantastic tools for flawless, sanitary makeup application... if you keep them clean. Here are some quick tips to make sure that your tools stay squeaky clean and bacteria-free:

One of the most important things you can do to keep your brushes clean is to use a daily brush cleanser. I use a Sephora Collection spray cleanser on my brushes every day or two. To use spray cleanser: Spritz your brush 2-3 times, then swirl it around on a paper towel until the brush is entirely clean. You'll know your brush is clean because it will stop leaving makeup streaks on your paper towel. When the brush is clean, use your fingers to gently reshape the bristles back to their original form. I like to spot clean at night so my brushes can dry overnight.
To clean lip brushes or brushes that you use with a gel-based product (like a gel liner or a very creamy foundation), rub a little olive oil into the bristles of the brush and follow the same procedure as above.

It's also important to deep-clean your brushes every few weeks. Don't deep-clean more than once a week, or else you'll dry out the bristles and your brushes won't last as long as they normally should. You can invest in a moderately expensive, professional quality brush shampoo and follow the directions on the bottle... or you can make your own brush cleanser with two products that you have in your kitchen already. It's your choice :)
To make your own brush shampoo, just mix 2 parts warm water with one part vinegar OR mix one part seltzer water with one part rubbing alcohol. In a bowl, place just the tips of the brushes into the mixture of your choice. (Do not submerge the brush in near the ferrule, the metal ring that attaches the bristles to the brush handle; if you get your brush wet too deep down, the bristles will never dry and your brush will be ruined.) Once your brush is wet, swirl it in circular motions (for a round topped or dome brush) or back-and-forth (for a flat-top or eye shader brush) on a sturdy paper towel until the brush no longer leaves a makeup trail. Let the brushes dry.
Be sure to never let your entire brush get wet.

Happy cleaning :)