There are lots of benefits to being a top-tier celebrity. Endless free Balmain, flying private, 7-figure book deals written by a ghostwriter, etc. While I would happily accept any and all of those perks, the A-List luxury I personally crave the most is a daily glam squad.
From #makeupbymario tutorials to music video lookbooks a la Erika Jayne, glam squads have truly come to the forefront of pop culture over the past few years. Growing up, I had a makeup guide by Bobbi Brown which urged natural, almost invisible makeup and that seemed to be the standard look. I was vaguely aware of a few other celebrity makeup artists, like Pat McGrath and Kevyn Aucoin, or makeup brands championed by suburban moms, like Mary Kay and Avon, which more or less adhered to the same ethos. Overall, the makeup artist in the early aughts was perceived by me as a maternal and conservative figure, the Martha Stewart of making your face oh-so-subtly enhanced. It was the era of clear mascara, of taupe eyeshadow, of not making mistakes.
Then, something changed.
For some bizarre, likely sexist reason, noone likes to give the Kardashians credit for anything, but it is impossible to dispel their mammoth influence on today’s aesthetic landscape. From KKW’s 2009-era daytime faux-lashes which launched a phalanx of eyelash-extension services to #kyliejennerlips and the disruptive, social-media fueled makeup empire which followed, to post-Paris situational goth makeup and related facial jewelry which spawned a new Snapchat beauty filter over the past week, these women are visionaries in the 21st century beauty space, critics be damned.
But behind every great Instagram is an even better glam squad. At least that’s what I would like to think Joyce Bonelli has embroidered on her Frette throw pillows.
Obviously, I don’t have the financial luxury of booking a $10,000+ per day makeup artist (though please call me up anytime you want to contour me, @makeupbyariel). Instead, I’ve worked on capturing an iota of ~glamsquad glamour~ by picking up as many tricks as I can from professionals. I’m still probably the worst at makeup out of my friends, but I’ve come a long way from when I accidentally wore too-white powder and aggressive black eyeliner to a family party and looked like a geisha ghost. #trulyaccidentalculturalappropriationcirca2006
While I will never not be wishing for my own glam squad, here are the 5 essential products which get me by in the interim:
This product has changed my life as much as emo eyeliner looks did 15 years earlier. Using the various tones, you can create a really light and natural contour that’s ideal for daytime but gives you selfie-ready cheekbones. Alternately, you can play with more heavy-handed application of the darker shades for a LIV-ready look. I personally use the above palette (Matte) to match my skin tone, and also because I sometimes use the top left sparkly shade as an eyeshadow or Twilight-inspired highlighter. That said, there are 3 different contour color palettes to choose from, each with 6 shades for just $40.
For daytime brows that give my face shape but don’t make me look like I just left work at E11even circa 11AM, I apply this Benefit gel. It takes literally 4 seconds to swipe on each brow, and makes me look twice as pulled together. Something about the texture is also very soothing and cooling.
I personally use color 03-Medium. Even though I have platinum blonde hair right now, my natural hair color is jet black. I don’t want my brows to be platinum nor jet black, but some harmonious shade in the middle, which I get with 03.
This little compact is one of the key change-agents of my overall beauty look. Every time I go out, I use the shade on the right to fill in and shape my brows, and it truly does transform your face. I have a set of cheap brushes that I got at CVS for like $15 and I use two of the smaller ones (one angled and one not) for applying this powder. I use the Medium Brown-Taupe Based Brown compact (the colors seen above), but there is a large variety for every brow color and look.
I love it when someone has a super-strong highlight that you can see from a mile away. If you want to similarly dazzle me with your beauty from a distance, utilize this precious vial of vampire sparkle drops. For a slightly more subtle (yet decidedly not Bobbi Brown approved) look, you can mix it with your foundation to give you a glowy-from-the-inside-out vibe.
I own Sunlight, which encapsulates that bronzy, Brazilian-model-running-on-a-beach aesthetic, but I’ve also had my makeup done with Moonlight, which is more celestial princess-esque. Halo and Rose-Gold are on my wishlist as well… hint, hint.
Up until I cleaned it this week, my vanity was a graveyard of rejected foundations. From the cheap CoverGirl and Revlons I’ve used in a pinch to more expensive experimental hues by Kat Von D, I’ve been dabbling with different replacements.
Ultimately I’ve accepted that cheap imitations don’t give me the quality or satisfaction of my favorite foundation, and I’ve returned to the relatively luxurious but oh-so-satisfying 30mL lover known as Diorskin. I wear #30 Medium Brown in Diorskin because I am a #basicbitch.
Diorskin just smells expensive, but in a classic and delicious way, like a perfectly cut Chanel jacket or the lobby of The Pierre. The coverage is exquisite, gliding onto your skin effortlessly but providing full, natural coverage.
Like a rowdy fin-de-siècle bachelor who flirts with the chorus girls in Paris and Vienna while on his Grand Tour, yet ultimately returns home to marry his childhood love and sire children named Enid and Agatha (who will be raised in the family townhouse flanking Union Square and then become sufragettes, and later, Whitney Museum trustees), I’ve learned my lesson. I will not stray any longer.