Gonna make this first part short and unsweetened: some silly cow made a video attacking Tati Westbrook for saying something less than glowing about an eyeshadow palette, and the silly cow’s silly followers started calling Tati a “bitch” (for not liking an eyeshadow palette?) and “old” (Horrors!) and other such things. Tati has already addressed this vehemently, calling the silly cow out on some shady things she has done — YAY Tati! — and I have just one thing to add: people, it’s MAKEUP. Further, life is not a middle-school playground or a high-school drama. You don’t get to play mean girl without consequences, and this girl who went after Tati made what can only be called a “mean girl video.” Some of her followers later made mean-girl videos whining that Tati was being mean to the silly cow. That’s called mobbing; it’s related to bullying. Got it? It’s wrong.
Now grow up and get a life.
Okay, that’s over. Now I think I’ll write a bit about what I really think about various makeup products, since it seems to piss people off so much. And oh yes…before I start, I have to mention that unlike Tati, I actually am a bitch and I actually am old. Great; now we’ve gotten that out of the way, so let’s start.
I’ll never be able to start a YouTube beauty channel (and there are plenty owned by older women — HORRORS!) because of the following: I avoid parabens. I also avoid aluminum compounds whenever possible. It’s getting somewhat easier to avoid parabens, but aluminum is ubiquitous in the makeup industry. I’d run out of products to review within a couple of weeks because of this.
Parabens I avoid because the European Union has banned them from cosmetics. I feel that’s compelling enough.
As for aluminum, I haven’t used aluminum-based antiperspirant in 20 years because of topical aluminum’s well-documented connection to the risk of developing senility…and also because I noted the skin on my underarms looked like chicken skin when I used aluminum-based antiperspirant, and the chicken-skin appearance vanished months after I gave it up, never to return. Definitely a cause and effect there.
But now I note that aluminum is showing up in cosmetics — even so-called “natural” cosmetics. I believe I read somewhere that aluminum is the most common metal in the Earth’s crust, so indeed it can be listed on a label as a natural ingredient. I try to veer towards “natural” cosmetics whenever I can, but when manufacturers insist on adding natural-but-not-desirable ingredients to their products, it makes it a questionable choice.
Maybe aluminum was always used in cosmetics, and I’ve only noticed what seems to be an increase in its use recently. Anyway, there are lots of makeup products I won’t touch simply because aluminum is prominent in the ingredients list. My current foundation, Physician’s Formula Healthy Foundation, has an aluminum compound in it. If I remember correctly, this is about halfway down the list of ingredients, so I’m trying to live with it. But any cosmetic that lists aluminum at or near the top of the ingredients list is something I won’t use. In fact, Physician’s Formula has several blushes and powders like that.
I like Healthy Foundation because it lasts all day, is subtle, and offers medium coverage instead a mask-like full coverage. It works well with Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Argan Oil and Coconut Water primer (you’ll almost definitely need to use a mattifying powder if you use this primer), and doesn’t splotch or collect in pores and wrinkles.
I was looking at Burt’s Bees foundation, which is aluminum-free. But frankly it’s gotten such awful reviews — including from Tati, who appears to hate the entire Burt’s Bees cosmetics line — that I’m hesitant to try it. Then again, I just may because sometimes things that everyone else hates work out well for me. Many of the anti-Burt’s Bees foundation reviews centered on the smell of the product. I figure if I could tolerate the solvent smell of the uber-popular Wet n Wild Photofocus foundation (a foundation that of course I don’t like), I can probably put up with whatever compost smell the Burt’s Bees foundation may have. If that’s the only problem with it, it’s no big deal.
Speaking of Burt’s Bees, I do love their mascara. This has gotten mixed reviews online — mostly complaints that it doesn’t help your lashes hold a curl, which is not a problem for me — but nothing but raves from yours truly: it doesn’t smudge, flake, or fade; it stays on until you remove it, and it’s easy to remove. I only wish they would make a “brown” shade to finish off their color line (“black” and “black brown”). I’ve also used Pacifica’s Stellar Gaze mascara, which actually comes in a taupe/brown color — which is great. But I found it was rather hard to remove at the end of the day. Another great natural mascara is Jane Iredale Purelash — but if you use the Agate Brown color, don’t be shocked at how subtle it is. It’s really best for “no makeup makeup” looks.
Eyeshadow is a problem for me, since I am elderly (HORRORS), and fairly pale. Shiny eyeshadows look hideous on older eyes and so does shadow that’s way too light, or, if you have a complexion like mine, anything that’s even halfway dark.
If you’re older and really want shiny eyeshadow, you can get around the problem by using appropriately toned mattes (not too light, nor too dark if you’re pale like me) with one tiny touch of something shiny on the top, in the middle of the eyelid just above the eye, where there are probably fewer wrinkles or folds. This again brings me to why I keep harping about the prevalence of shiny eyeshadows: they accentuate skin flaws around the eyes. Mattes tend not to draw extra attention to these things.
An aside: if you’re on the pale side, and especially if you have bleach-blond hair, for chrissakes don’t wear ’70’s white eyeshadow coupled with black eyeliner all around your eyes, and/or black mascara. Especially don’t finish off the look it with thick foundation (particularly in any sort of orange shade!), and lips lined with a liner 10 shades darker than whatever pearlized pale lipstick you’re wearing. That biker-chick look doesn’t work at our age. Yeah, I know you can do whatever the hell you want. But that means it’s up to you if you want to look like a fright. BTW, this is not coming from some fashion-lemming millennial, it’s coming from one of your contemporaries.
Back to eyeshadows, another complication for older women is that at least 80% of the shadows out there in the world are in some way shiny. Finding a nice paraben and aluminum-free matte is very, very hard.
As I said, it’s also hard to find a matte that is a lighter flesh-tone color, without being blank white. I’ve been using NYX Nude Matte eyeshadow in Lap Dance. It’s just slightly too light for me, but it’s all I can get. It works fine, but seems to fade a bit by the end of the day, which is actually a blessing. For contour shadow I use some of the medium shades from one of e.l.f.’s Mad for Matte palettes (I’m that pale). This is the only palette I own, btw, as I’m against palettes because they’re wasteful. You mad, sis?
Powders…another problem. Many of the mattifying powders on the market today seem to be comprised of almost pure aluminum, so of course I won’t touch them.
Right now I’m using Wet ‘n Wild Photofocus Pressed Powder. No aluminum there, but also, you can’t get the powder out of the compact. It’s a solid brick and the product simply won’t come off on a brush. After several days of agonizing over this I took to using an ancient, very sharp metal eyelash comb that someone gave me back in the ’90’s and I never used (because it’s very sharp). It’s working perfectly at breaking the rock-like WnW product into a usable powder…but I shouldn’t have to do that. Also, this powder is pigmented and tends to oxidize; by the end of the day you look like you’re wearing a light-toned bronzer. I may in fact use it as a contour product in the future; it’s just about dark enough for that after a few hours.
Another powder I’ve been using is e.l.f.’s Perfect Finish HD Powder (edit: just found out that unlike e.l.f.’s High Definition Undereye Powder, this product contains lots of aluminum — so I will no longer be using it). It works great under the eyes, making the area look matte without accentuating any wrinkles or crinkles (oddly enough, matte eyeshadows don’t accentuate skin flaws that much, but matte powder under the eyes can make you look like an old road map). If you use this powder all over the face, though, you may end up with a ghostly cast. It’s a transparent white, even though it’s marked as “Clear” on the container. E.l.f. also sells a much smaller container of what I believe is the same product, touting it as under-eye powder (edit: see what I said earlier in this paragraph; I may, in fact, buy the Undereye Powder again because it doesn’t accent under-eye wrinkles, and it doesn’t contain aluminum).
Once I finish these powders, I’m going back to LBGG Historical Makeup’s 1908 Rose Complexion Powder for the rest of my face. No talc, no aluminum, no parabens; very matte and velvety finish. It has an almost imperceptible pink tint to it, but that does not affect your makeup (it may on darker skin tones, though). Lovely stuff. I don’t know why I ever stopped using it. BTW, this is an indy brand you can get on Etsy.
Eyebrow mascaras (I don’t use pencils or anything else; too harsh-looking on me)…another challenge. Right now I’m using NYX Tinted Brow Mascara. It’s the best I’ve found. I started on eyebrow mascaras several years back when e.l.f. had one in my shade. They don’t sell it anymore; they had it very sporadically for a few years, then they only had black for a long time, and then they disco’d it altogether. Now they have a new eyebrow mascara with a very, very thin brush that I’m not sure I want to try.
Anyway, when e.l.f. stopped making that product, I went on a wild and desperate search that led me through several terrible ones (Milani — who I think has put that product out of its misery — and some others I can’t recall). Finally I landed on Physicians Formula Brow Last, but the lightest color of that one was a bit dark — very dangerous at my age and with my complexion — and the applicator was a nightmare. Next I went to Essence, which was too light and faded by the end of the day. Like I said, now I’m using NYX and I think I’ll stay with it…as long as they keep making it, anyway.
Eyeliner pencils: First of all, don’t expect to find a pencil that’s not waterproof and will hold a wing shape. Ain’t gonna happen. I have found, however, that Essence’s Extreme Lasting “waterproof” (it isn’t) eye pencil does in fact stay all day on the rest of the lid. On the other hand, the very natural Honeybee Gardens pencil disappears by lunchtime, and for some reason I have two of those pencils.
Lip color note to older women: you’re on your own. Don’t let anyone tell you your teeth are too dark for red or you’re too pale or your lips are too thin, or any weird theory that older women should only wear coral or pearlized pastels. You can wear black, red, pastel, pink, purple, blue…whatever the hell you want, as long as you balance it with your eye makeup (i.e., too much of everything tends to look especially bad when you’re up in years).
My favorite lip color is Burt’s Bees Matte Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest. It’s absolutely the most flattering nude red I’ve ever found, and I think just about anyone could wear it. It stays where you put it, too (unless you eat or drink something), you don’t absolutely have to line your lips when you wear it, it doesn’t have any weird smell or flavor, and it’s comfortable.
Blush: been wanting to try Burt’s Bees and/or Pacifica; somehow never get around to it. I did for a long time use a blush from e.l.f.; don’t recall exactly which one, but the color name was Tickled Pink. They also have a blush/primer combo that interests me. But like I said, somehow I never get around to buying it. I guess it’s because I’ve seen some very old ladies abuse it to the point where they looked like they had fevers. Or maybe it’s because it’s just one more thing to do. Whatever the cause, I keep forgetting about blush.
Contour: I don’t use it, although I may experiment with the oxidizing Wet ‘n Wild powder in the future. Bobbi Brown has said that the contour fad needs to go away because “it always looks like dirt,” and I agree. It’s very, very difficult to get it to look natural. In the days of yore we would simply use a slightly darker foundation in places where we wanted to create shadows. That actually looks better, as long as you don’t go too much darker than your regular foundation.
Concealer: I don’t use it. Well, I do…I have a NYX pencil called the Wonder Pencil. Most of the time I wonder why I own it, but occasionally I’ll use it to erase a stubborn shadow. But that’s the extent of my concealer use. I really, really don’t understand the way most YouTubers/Instagrammers use it (in a big triangle under the eyes and extending down the sides of the nose). We never used it that way in the days of yore because wearing gobs of concealer just makes everything look worse. Definitely less is more. Concealer was never meant to take up an entire third of your face.
Highlighter: I don’t use it. It probably looks great with evening-out makeup, but during the day? Well, I rarely see anyone wear it, but when they do, it looks like Halloween.
Boring, aren’t I? But stick with me and you’ll probably eventually save enough on cosmetics to buy a car. I’m only half kidding.