Category Archives: Makeup

[Never Say Diet] Who Says Eco Can’t Be Pretty?

Not me. And not our friends Siobhan and Alexandra of No More Dirty Looks. That’s why they hosted an awesome Clean Makeup Challenge, which I am talking about today over on Never Say Diet.

PS. For more NMDL amazingness, check out the lovely guest post they did last summer. And if the Clean Makeup Challenge doesn’t float your boat, they also did a No Makeup Challenge, which was pretty darn neat.

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Filed under Makeup, Never Say Diet

[2000 Dollar Wedding] Bridal Makeup is Whatever You Want it To Be.

The third and final post in my 2000 Dollar Wedding Guest Post Series is all about bridal makeup: The rules we learned at Beauty U —psst, Beauty U fans: There’s a new Miss Jenny story!—  versus what really happened with me and bridal makeup on my wedding day.

I also get to talk about the awesomeness of my friend Katherine (that would be her, hair-spraying me down, above) who is a very talented makeup artist, just by the by. (She also did Kate of Eat The Damn Cake‘s wedding makeup and was endlessly patient with both of us no-makeup types!)

Because there will be a quiz later, make sure you’ve also read Part 1: Why I Stopped Weighing Myself Before My Wedding and Part 2: Yes Your Teeth Could Be Whiter (But Why?). And check out all the other guest posting awesomeness that is happening over there right now. If any of y’all are wedding planning, 2000 Dollar Wedding is where it’s at for keeping your sanity in check. (Even if your wedding costs way more than $2000. Promise.)

Thanks so much to the wonderful Sara Cotner for including my posts in her maternity leave coverage! (PS. She’s now the proud mama of little Henry J!)


Filed under Guest Post, Makeup, Muddling Through Milady's

[Back to Beauty U] Mary Kay Calling

Back to Beauty U: An occasional series where I roll out some never-blogged-before Beauty U moments

Mary Kay and Missiles

The first thing I learned from Delores is that Mary Kay ladies don’t drive pink Cadillacs anymore.

Well they can — a shiny pink convertible is still one of the choices if you’ve earned Career Car privileges — but Delores drove up to Beauty U in a silvery-pink Chevy Equinox SUV. She wore a royal blue skirt suit with black fishnets and black knee-high boots plus lots of gold accessories and I later learned that the suit itself was a “Mary Kay Sales Director” suit that she had to qualify (in sales numbers) to wear, but that the accessories were all hers.

Delores carried in a pink tote bag brimming with catalogs, while behind her, Sue wheeled in a the biggest pink polka-dotted suitcase I’d ever seen. Upon closer inspection, the dots revealed themselves to be tiny hair dryers and makeup brushes. There weren’t any clients on the books, so everyone piled into the spa classroom while Sue passed out little plastic-covered cardboard folders. Inside, they held a mirror and a plastic tray, divided into different inch-sized compartments. Mine held the remnants of many prior product applications. The mirror in Blanche’s folder was cracked.

The next thing I learned from Delores was that if I wanted to, I could make “a corporate income” selling Mary Kay products right out of my home. “Even in the recession, our saleswomen are doing better than ever!” She jumped right into her speech about that while Sue came around and squirted little bits of product onto each of our trays.

“I always wanted to stay home with my children and Mary Kay has let me realize my dream,” Delores said, showing us her gold charm necklace that featured silhouette heads for each of her three kids. “My husband has even been able to retire early because my business is so successful!”

I knew that Sue was between jobs and trying to pick up a bartender gig. They mostly relied on her boyfriend’s income, doing something for the town that meant whenever we had a snowstorm he had to pull double shifts and plow the streets.

“That’s why I’m so thrilled that Susan has come back to Mary Kay again,” said Delores. I had never heard Sue go by “Susan,” but it sounded right coming from Delores, all successful and corporate. “She can help support her family and still have time to be with her son and pursue her education! Now ladies, let me tell you about our amazing new skin care line.”

And as we were instructed to dab each of the product samples from our little trays onto our faces — the custom Mary Kay “facial” — I couldn’t figure out if I was being sold a career or a face wash.

Delores really liked the Mary Kay Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser, which promises to cleanse, exfoliate and tone you all in one step, but Miss Jenny was underwhelmed. “We don’t like combination products here,” she explained to Delores, rubbing a bit of cleanser doubtfully onto the back of her hand. “If you’re going to do all those things properly, you really need three separate products.”

“Of course, that’s why we also offer our Classic Basic Skincare line, where you use a separate product for each step,” Delores responded smoothly, marching us right along to the lip treatment samples. “Remember, ladies, you earn 50 percent commission on every product you sell. That’s why I’m so pleased that Susan has come back to us — the sky really is the limit!”

In fact, this was Sue’s third time selling Mary Kay, which meant it was the third time she had bought the $120 start-up kit, where you get samples of all the key products and a guide to selling them to all of your family and friends. “The first two times, I didn’t make any money,” she told me later. “But this time, with our esthetics knowledge, being in this business, I think it makes a lot of sense.”

After our “skin care class,” Delores handed out catalogs so we could page through all the different shades of Mary Kay eye shadows and lipsticks. “Remember, ladies, if you buy tonight, Susan will earn 50 percent off everything!” she told us. “You really are helping out a friend. That’s how Mary Kay works. You can help her even more if you agree to host a party, plus that way you can get free products!”

Of course, we all wanted to help out Sue. Miss Jenny bought some eye shadow. Miss Stacy agreed to host a party. I bought the lip treatment and later I would buy a toner and a clarifying mask, when Sue swore they would be just what I needed to clear up my Beauty U breakouts. (They weren’t.)

By then, she had hosted a few parties where she earned $500 in a night — way better than bartending. Except out of that $500, she also had to pay for party snacks and wine, pay Mary Kay to maintain the web page of her “exclusive online store,” and pay for inventory so she could make more sales at her next party.

That first night, Blanche had been the most suspicious of the whole thing when Delores began her sales pitch. “Can I get another mirror?” she asked Sue, handing back her cracked one. “Do you really make any money this way?”

But the magical phrase “corporate income” — plus Delores’s shiny car and spiffy suit — seemed to go a long way. By the end of the night, she had signed on to Delores’ team, forking over the $120 for her own starter sales rep kit. And she and Sue helped Delores cart out the roll-along suitcase and the pink tote bag, chattering about that 50 percent commission and the great new range of eye shadow colors.

So. I’m pretty fascinated by the whole world of direct-marketing cosmetics, which so many women at Beauty U seemed to at least dip a toe in — without ever making much money.

Have you tried selling Mary Kay, Avon, or another direct-marketing makeup brand? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments, or email me (beautyschooledproject [at] gmail [dot]com) with your story.

[Photo: “Missiles and Makeup,” by Brent Moore of, via Flickr.]


Filed under Back to Beauty U, Beauty U, Career Opportunities, In Class, Makeup

Pretty Price Check: The No Makeup Report (10.01.10)

Well, check us out, all no-make-up-ed!

No More Dirty Looks No Make-Up Challenge

This is the gallery put together today by No More Dirty Looks. You should also head over and check out the fine folks at Rabbit Write, where Rachel (the brains behind all of us going barefaced) has a whole week of awesome No Make-Up posts like this video with Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross.

For me, going about without a stitch of makeup on felt simultaneously familiar (as I said last week, my pre-Beauty U days were no makeup, all the time) and strange — because now that I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing even just a little here and there, it felt a bit like I was leaving the house without my keys or my shoes on. Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards, Makeup, Pretty Price Check

No Makeup Days

No Make-Up Week

As I mentioned yesterday, No More Dirty Looks is hosting a No Makeup Challenge this week. Turns out it’s part of a whole big No Makeup Week originated by Rabbit Write here in blogland, so obviously, I had to get in on that action. (Hi fellow bloggers! Thanks for letting me play!)

What’s funny is that, before Beauty U, this would have been so not a thing for me. Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards, Makeup

[Guest Post] On (Not) Being Transvestite Barbie

photo of transgender barbie

Devoted Beauty Schooled readers know I have a total blog crush on Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. If you don’t know that, you should A) check out her blog, especially the Cake Gallery and B) check out this great post she did for me awhile ago.

But come right on back here, because in lieu of our usual Pretty Price Checking (suspended due to me being off the grid somewhere and thus out of touch on anything Price Check related — update me on what I missed in the comments?), we’ve got Kate guest posting!

And I love this post first because it enabled me to do a Google search on the phrase “Transvestite Barbie” and find you the amazingness featured above. And second because I think a lot of us can relate to Kate’s struggle to look like herself and yet also beautiful in that Big Life Moment special occasion kinda way. It’s really the same struggle we go through daily (look like ourselves, yet also like some approximation of Pretty, whether that was defined by TV, the beauty industry, your women’s studies class, your mom, whatever). But with lots of extra wedding day pressure.

So here’s Kate. She’s handling it all swimmingly.

The salesman in the formal wear department asked me who designed my gown. I couldn’t remember. We were shopping for my mother’s dress for my wedding. She found a gorgeous one. She asked about hair and makeup. What did he recommend? He looked at me. “Well, where is your daughter going?”

I shook my head slowly. “Um,” I said. “I don’t know.” Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Guest Post, Hair, Makeup

So Puberty is Starting Younger. A Lot Younger.

Photo of The Queen via Flickr

Now I know why I’ve been watching “Veronica Mars” reruns instead of reading the newspaper in the morning: Creepy stories like “First Signs of Puberty Seen in Younger Girls,” from Monday’s New York Times, which reports on a new Pediatrics study showing that girls are more likely to start developing breasts by age 7 or 8 than they were in the past.

The researchers looked at 1,239 girls aged 6 to 8 recruited in New York, San Francisco, and Cincinnati. The findings:

At 7 years, 10.4 percent of white, 23.4 percent of black and 14.9 percent of Hispanic girls had enough breast development to be considered at the onset of puberty.

At age 8, the figures were 18.3 percent in whites, 42.9 percent in blacks and 30.9 percent in Hispanics.

Yeah. Awesome.

Standard caveat about how nobody seems to have a real clue about why this is happening (and by “this” I mean, an average of 30 percent of 8 year olds growing boobs). Obesity may or may not be a factor. Race and related differences in socioeconomic experiences may or may not be a factor. A historic misreporting in medical textbooks about the onset of puberty may or may not be a factor.

And guess what else may or may not be a factor? Environmental chemicals. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Government Watch, In Class, Ingredients, Makeup, products, week 37

Field Trip to the Makeup Show.

It’s been ages since Beauty U took us on a good, old-fashioned field trip, so I was  more excited than you might think to give up my Sunday and trek into New York City for The Makeup Show.

For the uninitiated, The Makeup Show is a trade show for makeup artists and really, anyone who likes makeup. (They aren’t overly picky about who can buy tickets because Stephanie got in last year without being a licensed anything or even enrolled at Beauty U.) It happens every year in New York and California, in giant convention center type places. As Amber over on Beauty Blogging Junkie explains it: “It is to beauty gals what a convention is to Trekkies.

There are special workshops and demonstrations and halfway decent chocolate croissants, but the real deal is you’re paying $40 to shop. And look at advertisements. Which is cool. I like shopping and when I’m in trade show mode, I have a sort of OCD thing about needing to take every flyer they give me because surely I’m going to need to learn all about the The Arbonne Opportunity or Makeup Mania’s Summer Promotion, in case there’s a quiz later.

Of course, since you paid $40 (and that’s the student rate) to get in, expectations for bargain basement prices are high.

And quickly dashed.

Because while $56 is a great price for a Smashbox eyeshadow palette that usually costs $112… it’s still over $50 for about two inches worth of eye shadow.

We did have a few coups. Stephanie — who has already started booking makeup application gigs doing up local prom-goers — stocked up on some airbrush tanning equipment and a glitter tattoo kit. Meg invested in a great set of makeup brushes. Campbell gets a medley of little shimmery creams.

And even though y’all know I almost never wear makeup, I was smitten with this adorable little six-pack of Naked Cosmetics:

Photo of Naked Cosmetics Naturally Nude collection

I mean, don’t you just want to eat them with a spoon?

Okay, so this is not a product endorsement, because that would conflict with the official Beauty Schooled Product Policy around here. But I will say that I personally like that these guys are made solely with “100% oxidized mica,” because I find super short ingredient lists comforting in this age of secret fragrance toxins and almost zero chemical safety regulation.

And I also like that Naked products are multifunctional; this set promises that I can use them as eyeshadow, eyeliner, nail polish (mix with clear), lip gloss, bronzer, and temporary hair highlights. But I haven’t gotten around to testing any of that out, so don’t take my word for it ‘kay? That’s just what it says on the back of the box.

Anyway, I pay $20 for the set, which usually retails for $60, which is, obviously, a deal… until you remember that $40 ticket (plus the $26 I spent on Metro North to get there), and then it’s a bit more of a wash.

Which gets us all talking about how expensive all these “professional products” really are. (I use quotes because so many of these brands are also sold in Sephora at this point.) A freelance makeup artist visited Beauty U a few weeks ago and told us that she invested around $500 in her professional foundation palette (which is like a big artist’s palette with about twenty different shades of foundation, so she can mix exactly the right shade for each client) and the same again in all of her eyeshadows. That’s some serious overhead, especially when you figure how often you have to replace makeup, either because you run out or it goes bad. Plus the pressure to keep up with trends (glitter tattoos, anyone?) and have brands customers will recognize and covet and maybe even want to purchase from you at their suggested retail prices.

It reminds me yet again that when you work in the beauty industry, you’re always Also A Client.

Of course, I haven’t done all the math here, and maybe the money you make, especially as a freelance makeup artist, quickly outpaces your product costs. Would love to hear from any makeup artists out there on this; how much do you invest in your makeup kit (all at once or per year or however you track it) and how long does it take you to see a profit?

(And PS. if you went to the Makeup Show, curious to hear what you thought!)


Filed under Beauty Schooled, Happenings, In Class, Makeup, products, week 27

Pretty Price Check (04.02.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday roundup of what we paid for beauty this week.

Photo of Andrea Jung.

Avon CEO Andrea Jung can buy as many ponies as she wants.

  • $7.1 million: How much Avon CEO Andrea Jung earned in 2009. It’s down 64 percent from 2008, when, apparently, she was paid all the money in the whole world. (Via Google News.)
  • $100: The average weekly pay of your local Mary Kay or Avon lady. (Via ABCNews.)
  • 19: The age of UK hair stylist Jenny Mitchell, who died March 9th when she lit a cigarette while driving, and it caused a bottle of hair dye (containing hydrogen peroxide) to explode, engulfing her car in flames. Horrendous is really the only word I’ve got for that. (Via The Guardian.)
  • $1.8 billion: How much the state of Michigan expects to bring in each year if they add a proposed “haircut tax.” (Via BellaSugar.)

[Photo: Avon.]

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Filed under Beauty Schooled, Hair, Makeup, Pretty Price Check, week 20

[Glossed Over] COVERGIRL Says Beauty is the Victim.

Oh dear. Where to even begin with COVERGIRL’s Stand Up For Beauty Campaign?

Cover Girl Stand Up For Beauty Declaration Cloud Photo

The gist, as you’re probably catching from their “Declaration Cloud,” above, is that beauty has been getting a bad rap, kind of like that cheerleader that everyone says slept with the whole swim team, when really, it was just like, two or three guys, tops. Drew Barrymore and a whole bunch of celebrities and beauty bloggers are on board, “defending beauty’s honor” and claiming lip gloss’s ability to put a smile on your face as an inalienable feminist right. And COVERGIRL is even planning to give $50,000 to whichever Beauty Defender made the best video of why she stands up for beauty.

I guess I’m getting stuck on random segues like “and what’s so authentic about under-eye circles anyway!” (Umm… they are a part of my face?). And also the fact that the campaign’s home page invites me to sign the COVERGIRL Beauty Declaration and get COVERGIRL makeup shade matches for my current department store brands at the same time. So when “we declare that starting now — beauty is for all,” what we really mean is “anyone can buy COVERGIRL products — even fat chicks, honest!”

So, can you rock that? Or am I being a curmudgeon when I should be giving them points (maybe half a point?) for trying?


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Glossed Over., Makeup, week 18