Vanity, thy name is ME!
November 19, 2015 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I enter the last year of my 30s next week and I have noticed a recent interest in being, well, a little fussy about my appearance. Ladies of MeFi, give me your tips/tricks/suggestions for looking good! Self-centred snowflakes within.

Things I am now interested in that I have never been interested in before:

- Make-up and how to wear that it best flatters me.
- Having nice hands and feet
- Facial routines for lovely skin (I am blessed with a clear complexion; I only get acne right before my period)
- Anything else you got

Difficulty: vegan, but I make okay money to indulge myself for nice things every now and again.
posted by Kitteh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
For the nice hands and feet - may be obvious, but regular manicures and pedicures make a big difference and it's a nice self-care luxury if you can do it.
posted by amro at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Brows are to your face what lighting is to a room--when they're good, they vastly improve the space; when bad, it can ruin everything. Get thee to an esthetician.
posted by lovableiago at 10:05 AM on November 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm a no makeup person usually, but I went to Sephora where they taught me how to apply foundation with a brush and it's the first time I've ever actually wanted to wear it because it was actually the right color for me and also the brush makes it way easier in my opinion. So my advice is, go to Sephora and let them help you pick out some products and learn how to apply them.
posted by cabingirl at 10:12 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sunscreen. All over. All of the skin. All of the time.

Teeth whitening at your dentist's office.

Best possible haircut you can afford, along with highlights or lowlights, as appropriate, if you want.

Best-fitting bra you can afford.

Tailoring for everything.

The best foundation you can afford. Foundation is where to spend the makeup dollars.
posted by jgirl at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2015 [16 favorites]

Oh yea and they were super nice! I was afraid they'd be snotty to schlubby old me, but nope.
posted by cabingirl at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2015

I learned a lot about applying makeup from videos by Paula Begoun and Lisa Eldridge. My daily makeup routine is much more stripped-down than what they show, but those videos helped me learn techniques.

I also go to Paula Begoun for skincare advice and product recommendations. I like that she references the latest research and debunks claims about ineffective or harmful skincare ingredients. How to put together a skincare routine is a good place to start.

For nice hands, consider using a cuticle remover and orange sticks or a cuticle pusher. Cleaned-up cuticles make a big difference, even if you're not wearing nail polish. I also love this nipper for hangnails, and this oil for moisturizing. Lush also makes a nice cuticle cream. If your nails have ridges or look dull, you can use a nail buffer block to shine them.
posted by neushoorn at 10:22 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Super hair cut and color make a big difference too.

I've found that my coloring has changed a bit over time: some colors that used to be great on me no longer are. Don't be afraid to get rid of clothing that doesn't look as great on you as it used to.

Your figure may change over time regardless of childbearing and substantial weight gain or loss. A personal shopping service can be helpful.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:39 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

bonus: that cuticle remover you use on your nails? You can also use it to soften calluses on your feet. It is more a comfort thing than an appearance thing but boy, does it feel nice.

i recently extolled on here the glories of serums and eye creams, and will reiterate it: I'm now 2 months into my serum + eye cream + moisturizer routine and for reals, my skin has never ever looked this good. Or at least not since puberty. The difference from my former "slap on some whatever" skin is drastic and became apparent VERY quickly.

Naturally the specific types of products you'd choose would depend upon your individual skin needs-- but at least one (preferably more) should contain hefty sunscreen.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:43 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

- Get a bra fitting at a place where they really know how to fit bras. Being the petite, apple-shaped, waistless wonder that I am, a well-fitting bra makes the difference between "my clothes fit and I have some torso definition" and "blob on toothpicks." Bras are where I spend the most money on clothes.

- I love shapewear, as long as it's not so tight I feel like a sausage. But a simple shapewear cami helps smooth out the lumps and bumps. YMMV depending on your body type.

- Accessories - I love scarves and jewelry. These are also great to get secondhand! A scarf in a flattering color can save an outfit that isn't.

- Speaking of flattering colors, I got my colors done at my local Parks and Rec department. This has done so much to keep me from wasting money on unflattering colors, as well as given me the courage to try colors I otherwise wouldn't. It doesn't matter so much for pants and skirts, but a top or scarf in a flattering color (turquoise is one of my best colors, for instance) can take years off your face and make you look great even when you're feeling under the weather.

- I've gotten deeply into Korean skin care lately and my skin has really benefited. I don't know how vegan all their products are, but there are many Korean skin care forums and blogs and I'm sure you can find out. Since doing my Korean skin care routine - yes, I do the whole cleanse + essence + serum + moisturizer + BB cream - my skin has been so smooth and clear. This means I need less makeup and what I do put on my skin looks better.

- BB cream - I use Lira and Missha brands. I like BB cream better than foundation unless I'm really dressing up, or getting photographed.

- Hands and feet: I'm not sure how feasible a professional mani and pedi is in Canada; I live in California where it's easy and not expensive to go to a salon. It's still very possible to do a great job at home, as long as you have the right tools - cuticle cream (I like LUSH Lemony Flutter), nail files, foot exfoliating file, good-quality sharp nail clippers, all of which can be easily purchased online. I think keeping nails short, neatly filed, and polished or buffed is the best look, as long nails can so easily look tacky and get dirty and gross.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:14 AM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

I need new shapewear--I'm still wearing the Spanx I bought for my wedding seven years and 25 pounds heavier ago--but how do you shop for that. I am busty up top, a bit squashy in the middle, everything else is fine!

Re: mani-pedis. How often does everyone go?Also, I try to see my hairdresser every six weeks. I am getting colour done for the first time in years, so does that up the timetable?
posted by Kitteh at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2015

Under the "anything else" bit...for me, it's been splurging on fitness. I love yoga but I could never bring myself to pay (even though I could afford to) to go regularly.

This year I went for an unlimited membership at a local yoga studio and I've been going nearly every day and it just felt so self-indulgent and vain but I know I'll reap the rewards both mentally and physically. Never again will I ever let myself feel bad for wanting to stay fit and feel good.

I'm lazy so I got my eyebrows tattooed a few months ago, they don't look sharp-ied in since most places now fill them in so that they look like individual hairstrokes. No one believes me when I tell them they're tattooed in until I brush away the eyebrow hairs. I'm planning on getting a veeery thin line of eyeliner some time next year.

Stop buying the "just ok" things. Buy what you know you love and looks great on you. I balked at premium jeans but wow, they really DO blow everything else out the water.

I have very soft feet and every. single. night. I use a pumice stone at the end of my shower. This prevents the build up of too much roughness/callouses. Then after my shower I use AmLactin lotion on my feet.
posted by driedmango at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I do splurge on fitness. I paid for a year-long membership to a spin studio that now offers additional weight training, but am looking into supplementing that as one of the reasons I am more interested in overall care is because constant exercise has done wonders for my mental outlook, my confidence, and of course, for my overall figure.
posted by Kitteh at 12:55 PM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Do the weight training! I've been lifting for about a year, and it's great for both actually changing my appearance (better posture! muscles! even some abs!) and for the fact that I'm telling myself I'm a beast who can succeed at hard things several time a week.

If you have nice skin, start with color cosmetics (lipstick, eye stuff) because that's where you'll see payoff vs. foundation, which is harder to shop for. I generally just wear lipstick and mascara on curled lashes. Lots of places have samples (sephora, ulta) and/or lenient return policies.

FWIW, I hate orange sticks but got a manicure tool recently with a soft plastic cuticle pusher bit. A+. I just soak my hands in water before doing it, no need to shop for a vegan goo. Since I like to keep my calluses for aforementioned lifting, I just file them smooth with a nail / foot file.
posted by momus_window at 1:24 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mani-pedis: I go every 2-4 weeks. I get both each time.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 1:51 PM on November 19, 2015

Get your brows waxed. Go somewhere GREAT (expect to pay $25-30). Especially if you haven't had your brows shaped for a long time- the first time is the most important as they will choose a new shape for you, so it's extra important to choose well and not go overboard. You can always take off more later, but they take forever to grow back if you take too much!

Shaping your brows will visually add light and openness to your eyes, and polish your look- it makes a huge difference in looking more "put-together".

Only let them wax below your brows, not above them, and ask them not to give hard, sharp edges or hard angles. If you were a fancy person who wore a lot of makeup then waxing the tops a bit would be ok. But I think you should avoid waxing above the brow as it gives a sharp, angular, very well-defined look. The angular look works if you wear quite a bit of makeup on a regular basis, but without makeup, it can make you look overplucked = older.

Because you seem like a more natural-beauty and lower-maintenance type of person overall, I suggest you aim for a softer, less angular brow shape and more natural, feathered top edges and inner ends. This kind of brow will work with minimal makeup, and require less upkeep).

Here are some examples of thick natural brows where the undersides are gently shaped but they have maintained feathery top edges that look great.

Here are some brows that are probably too sharp or too thin to suit your overall look. Make sure they keep your brows thick overall- if the waxer herself has teeny thin brows, go elsewhere!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Re: mani-pedis. How often does everyone go?

Never. There's an interesting read in the NY Times, a series starting with The Price of Nice Nails, that discusses a lot of problems with that industry.

Personally, I am ill at ease with having somebody who is probably not very well paid perform grotty personal ablutions for me. I have no idea how the "mani-pedi" thing got normalized. It is also my view, admittedly far from universal, that the results of any elaborate "mani-pedi" stuff -- anything past a level that would be a fuss to do yourself -- looks dreadfully tacky. Lotion and files will sort out the overwhelming majority of hand/nail care.

Things I am on board with: blistering myself with various types of acids (for example), hoarding different colours of cashmere sweaters, which will never be exceptionally stylish and which will never be un-cozy or sloppy, aggressive lipsticks, and interesting eyeglasses.
posted by kmennie at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

This summer I learned that you can use eye shadow and an angle brush for eyeliner rather than a pencil or messy liquid and it was a revelation. It's so much easier and the results are terrific.
posted by bibliotropic at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

bibliotropic, are you using a dry pressed eye shadow or a cream? How do you keep the shadow from becoming a sprinkly mess all over your face?
posted by futz at 9:01 PM on November 19, 2015

I do the same as bibliotropic, using dark pressed powder eyeshadow as a liner. It works really well for creating a soft line and I doubt I will go back to eyeliner pencils. I just use an eyeshadow primer (Urban Decay) to make the color stay where I put it and apply the powder carefully with a thin angle brush.
posted by Orinda at 10:48 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another suggestion for the nails. If you don't want or care to spend the money, you can get a simple, chic and sophisticated look by using a nail buffer regularly. I buy these e.l.f. nail blocks and keep one at the office and a couple more around the house. So my fingernails and toenails still look good even without color polish. Add clear polish for extra shine but I usually go without.

You can also take a vitamin supplement (biotin I think) to get better hair, skin and nails. YMMV of course, but some of my friends swear by it. And vitamins in general like fish/flaxseed oil, D, C, calcium, etc. I just take a women's multi.

I own two great eyelash curlers and don't regret spending the extra money at all. I have both the Shu Uemera and Shiseido curlers and like them equally. They make a huge difference, both with and without mascara.
posted by driedmango at 6:52 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Good quality hair styling tools! I recently bought myself a Parlux hairdryer and GHD curling iron. They cost way too much, but they've made SUCH a difference to my hair.

I also regularly get - and love - Botox, but YMMV.
posted by nerdfish at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I read How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank and it was a huge help. It has a ton of information about everything from hair color and style to makeup and skincare to fashion. The focus is on building a classic, put-together, polished-without-being-overdone kind of look. I've implemented some skin care, nail care and makeup tips with good success.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

>How do you keep the shadow from becoming a sprinkly mess all over your face?

Makeup artists call the sprinky mess "fallout" in case you're researching tutorials.
Here are some ways I avoid it:

1. Damp brush means less powder falls off. Dampen the eyeliner brush before touching the shadow with it (wet it then dry it well on a towel, pressing the bristles into shape). This can also make the colour of the shadow look darker.

2. Tapping the brush removes excess product, so tap the brush handle briskly agains the counter or your finger to knock off excess powder.

3. Clean up your fallout after eye makeup is done. Dampen a cotton swab with water or eye makeup remover, and gently remove any fallout below eyes. You can also use a makeup wipe.

4. Fallout will tend to stick to concealer so you an also apply concealer, foundation and powder under eyes only AFTER all eye makeup is done and fallout removed. After finishing everything, you may want to add a bit more mascara as a last step, because facepowder will tend to cling to, and lighten, your mascara.

5. Use a folded tissue, a post-it note, or a bit of scotch tape as a shield under your eyes.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:47 PM on November 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Good eyebrows are very important. Skin that looks flawless and even-toned is awesome, and is usually a result of great foundation or powder, applied with a great brush/sponge, sparingly. A coloured lip solves everything, and can lift almost any outfit. If you apply your eye makeup before ANY other makeup, you can clean the rest of your face, THEN apply your foundation/other face stuff. I recently decided the makeup look I'd had for most of my 20s no longer suited me in my 30s, so went to Sephora and got one of those makeup consultations. Best decision ever, it resulted in me understanding application and products better, and updated my look.

Make sure your hair stylist understands your maintenance requirements when it comes to cut and colour - how often you want touchups and haircuts - and provides recommendations on what you can do with these limitations.

Figure out what hairstyles look good on you (braids, ponytails, side/centre parts) so you can keep it interesting each day. If you practice, most styles can be done in under 5 minutes.

Tools matter. Good makeup brushes, great hairbrushes, effective heat styling tools.
Then, you'll need to learn to use them! I get great effects with: GHD hair straightener, Babyliss Miracurl, Tweezerman tweezers, Shu Uemura eyelash curler, Sephora brushes, Aveda paddle brush.

Moisturise! It honestly does make a huge difference in the softness and general ageing of the skin. Find a body moisturiser you LIKE using, and leaves your skin feeling silky. Do it daily, it only takes 3 minutes to slap it on.
Do something physical for your body every day. Whether it's a 10 minute stretch, or a short walk, or even just 50 squats and a plank or 2, make sure that every day your muscles are being used and your spine being elongated in some way.

I always feel more glow-y and beautiful when I don't rush. So I wake up early enough to never have to rush, take a shower where I can enjoy it for a few minutes. It honestly only adds 10 minutes to my day but not having to rush makes everything so much better. I also try to sleep enough and drink a LOT of water - you honestly do see results in your skin and energy from this.

Have fun - vanity can reap you many hours of glorious researching for awesome things that make you feel good! :)
posted by shazzam! at 10:37 PM on November 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

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