Am I Making This Black Lipstick Look Casual?

They say spontaneity is the spice of life, but in the case of makeup, I’ve historically felt the opposite, gleaning a lot of satisfaction in crafting and adhering to a routine. The predictability has always appealed to me. Recently, though, the lines I’ve been coloring in have started to feel stale. Blame it on the over-saturation of the no-makeup makeup movement or my own complacency, but I’ve started to admire women who rock things like black lipstick or false eyelashes or contour. Although none of those trends feel very me, I’ve started to wonder if that’s an assumption worth challenging, as I believe it so often is with fashion.

On an average day, I wear four products: foundation, mascara, highlighter and lip gloss — a combination that makes me look like I’m almost wearing nothing at all (see exhibit A). On the contrary, I find that contouring, black lipstick and false lashes are on the more extreme end of the aesthetic spectrum for their respective facial zones. While lip gloss attracts light, black lipstick mirrors a dark abyss. While foundation provides uniform coverage, contouring carves up my face. While mascara enhances my short eyelashes, which I’ve grown to love, falsies have the potential to make me look and feel like Snuffleupagus. But the fact that trying these trends makes me so uncomfortable seems like reason enough to do it. Perhaps deviating from my routine would provide me with the much needed shift in perspective I’ve been looking for.

The results of my foray into new makeup territory are waiting for you below. The question of the day: Could I make these feel like “me”?

False Lashes

Application: I did not begin my falsies experience on the right foot, as I completely forgot that procuring lash glue must happen prior to any application attempt. After emergency-scurrying over to Duane Reade for some, I spent approximately 10 sweaty minutes in front of a mirror trying to pinch the lashes on before I resigned and began whining around the Man Repeller office to incite help. I was relieved to find that near-seamless fake lash application is one of Amelia’s many talents — and she was down to assist. She lined both lash strips with a healthy amount of glue then nestled them into place on my lids. Per her recommendation, I traced the base of my lashes with a kohl liner to conceal any residue. To test their stability, I did a three reps of rapid-fire blinking; I was impressed to find that the set stayed in place but dismayed to find that they made it very hard to see.

Aesthetic: I was so preoccupied by how uncomfortable the fake lashes felt — something like aliens invading my eyes — that I didn’t pay much attention to how they made me look. At the time, I assumed they looked out of place, like leftovers from a fancy night out. After seeing the photos though, I wish I had been less embarrassed by the falsies. They were foreign to me, but didn’t distort my appearance, and my normcore styling worked to neutralize their innate glamour.

Closing remarks: I won’t be incorporating fake lashes into my daily routine simply because I cannot apply them on my own.


Application: When I arrived at Sephora in search of a contour kit, I told the sales associate that I wanted something beyond simple — something foolproof. She swiftly guided me to the Fenty Beauty section and plopped the Match Stix Trio in shade “Deep 400” into my hands telling me: “It’s super easy to use, you don’t even need brushes because you can rub it in with your fingers.” I ended up using a small concealer brush and an angled contour brush because I had them available, but she was on the money in regards to the stress-free application. I was stunned that it took me less than ten minutes to complete, because I feel like every contouring tutorial I’ve come across is at least half an hour. The products are in stick-form — as opposed to powder — which gave me total control over the amount of product I used and where it would go.

Aesthetic: I’ve always considered contouring the perfect pairing for sumptuous ensembles — from red-carpet gowns to luxury athleisure — probably thanks to the preponderance of the Kardashians in pop culture. In an attempt to avoid extravagance, I decided to rock this face look with an easygoing prairiecore-style outfit. I was pleased that the puffy-sleeved, plaid midi dress found harmony with the makeup, but that might have been because on a scale of one to handsome Squidward, my contour intensity probably scored a five.

Closing Remarks: Now that I know subtle, uncomplicated contouring is achievable, I wouldn’t mind doing it again — when I have the extra 10 minutes to add to my usual routine.

Black Lipstick

Application: Applying matte lipstick is nothing new to me, so I definitely felt in my element while testing out this trend. I was impressed that I only had to apply two coats of Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in “Uninvited” to achieve full opacity and that the formula didn’t feel cakey.

Aesthetic: Staring at myself shoulders-up in the bathroom mirror did not ease any of my qualms with black lipstick, but seeing my moody mouth in a full-length reflection actually made a difference. I paired this lip with a puppy-adorned Sandy Liang sweater ironically (what’s less hardcore than repping a cuddly creature on your chest?), but ended up with a genuine appreciation for my look. I think the creamy hue of my top and light-wash of my jeans forced the black lipstick into being a team player in, rather than sovereign leader of, my outfit.

Closing remarks: I don’t envision myself returning to black lipstick because selecting outfits that I feel comfortable pairing with it requires too much forethought. However, I will say this experience has opened my eyes to its potential for versatility.

After all that, I’m fairly certain that my daily routine will remain more or less unchanged — but I do have a newfound curiosity about what else lies beyond my beauty bubble. What do you guys think I should try next? Let me know in the comments.

Photos by Edith Young. 

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