Archive for the ‘ makeup ’ Category

How to Be Attractive

Ninety percent of what I do takes place in my head. The remaining ten percent comprises the execution stage. I examine many possibilities, take in information, conduct research, weigh the alternatives, decide on the most effective and efficient solution or course of action, and then I execute.

I have mentioned to a few people that my physical attractiveness is a result of this very process. I am fascinated by all topics related to psychology, and the psychology of physical beauty in our culture is no exception. I wanted to know what makes a person attractive in the eyes of others, and what the benefits of attractiveness are (of which there are many, but that is a post for another day).

I read many books on attractiveness, nutrition, fitness, and self-care, including these favorites to which I still refer on a regular basis:
1. Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff – Etcoff discusses what features contribute to attractiveness and the survival value of beauty.
2. Makeup Makeovers by Robert Jones – Jones presents a how-to guide on makeup application with amazing photo illustrations.
3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman – Freedman discusses the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
4. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier – Delavier lists essential free weight exercises for each muscle group in a detailed illustrated guide.
5. Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean – Bean covers the basics of how nutrition contributes to and works together with exercise.

Some basic essentials of female attractiveness include the following:
1. Maintain your ideal weight with a body mass index of 21 and a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7. This is achieved with diet, exercise, youth, and a not having children.
2. Work to have clear, dewy skin that is free of acne and wrinkles by using gentle soap, exfoliate regularly, use eye cream and moisturizer every day, and use good quality makeup that matches your skin tone.
3. Eyes should be large, clear, and sparkly. Avoid alcohol and drugs, get adequate amounts of sleep, use luminizing concealer and shadow, and use eye whitening drops if necessary.
4. Have long, glossy hair that looks feminine by taking your B vitamins and using conditioners and creams.
5. Get straight white teeth with braces, veneers, and/or bleaching strips, and remember to floss. Lips look best when full and hydrated. Dark lipstick can age you drastically, so aim to use lighter colors on your lips.
6. Develop curves in all the right places (back, waist, hips, buttocks, legs, and arms) with exercise, proper nutrition (NOT with dieting, but as a lifestyle), exercise, eating healthy, and exercise – especially weight training, which so many women neglect. I have never been as secure about my body image as when I concentrate on strength training and bodybuilding.
7. Strive for symmetrical facial features by using artful makeup techniques or plastic surgery.
8. Get self-confident by finding friends who are encouraging and can help you achieve your full potential.
9. Increase your energy levels by exercising regularly, eating plenty of slow-digesting carbs, fruits, and vegetables, and by taking a multivitamin.
10. Get that je ne sais quoi by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and constantly seeking to build your relationship with God.


Favorites of 2009

The annum is drawing to a close, and I am reflecting on the struggles and the blessings of the past year. I am so thankful for the people in my life, my health, my job, and the psychological, spiritual, and physical growth I’ve experienced this year. In reflection, there are some items that have improved my life, or that I’ve simply enjoyed having. These items were not necessarily created/published/invented in 2009, but I discovered them over the past year.


“The Path of Loneliness” by Elisabeth Elliot – Elliot has so many nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout her book. I have struggled with loneliness a great deal this year, and Elliot’s wisdom has helped me to understand my struggles as a gift from God. I think on a subconscious level, I believed my struggles were punishment, but that is not the truth. If I don’t have something, it is because I don’t need it, as God has promised that He will provide all I need (Phil 4:19).

“I Hate You; Don’t Leave Me” by Jerold Kreisman and Hal Straus – This book is fascinating to those who are interested in psychology. It helped me to understand Borderline Personality Disorder in general, as well as specific people in my life. (Disclaimer: I am a trained professional counselor; I do not advocate diagnoses by lay people, as erroneous labeling can be damaging.)

“Why is it Always about You?” by Sandy Hotchkiss – Hotchkiss explains more about narcissism, not just as a diagnosable personality disorder, but as a general character flaw. We all have narcissists in our lives, and this book helped me to better understand them. The bottom line: Stay away from Borderlines and Narcissists if at all possible.


Intimacy Remixed – This album by Bloc Party comprises my favorite music of 2009. Kele Okereke and his electronic-edged Brit punk band are talented and original. Their lyrics are amazing (so many artists use clichés and common metaphors, but Bloc Party writes original and extremely poetic lyrics). The music itself is very unique, dynamic, and complex. When I listen, I feel like I melt into the music and it flows through me, and I’m always a sucker for a good remix.



Charlie’s Soap Detergent – This laundry detergent has changed my life. It is inexpensive as compared with major brands of liquid detergent, and it is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and free of dyes and perfumes. It works well on my athletic clothing, as well as my general daytime wear. I can no longer use regular detergent, as I cannot tolerate the artificial perfumes.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein – I perform strength training and cardiovascular exercise every day. I broke my vegan diet about six months ago in order to cut down on the amount of soy I was consuming and to increase my protein intake. Within a few weeks, I lost a lot of water weight, and over the past several months, I have put on more muscle and gained in strength. Adding a few protein shakes a day has helped me meet my protein requirements and balance out my diet.

MAC Eye Shadow and Pigment – MAC Cosmetics has had a cult following for many years, but I just discovered why this year. MAC eye shadows and pigments are the best I have ever used: they are highly pigmented, blend easily, and they come in so many lovely shades. I get many compliments on my eyes from women when I wear MAC, although guys seem to prefer my face with less makeup. Once you go MAC, you will never go back.



Crossfit – A few months ago, I added crossfit workouts to my strength training and cardio exercise at the gym. These varied, fast-paced workouts have helped me to get stronger and leaner. The fun Workouts of the Day, which are given women’s names, are fun and challenging. I enjoy the Fran workout, which involves completing a series of thrusters and pull-ups as quickly as possible.

Georgia Aquarium – My boyfriend, before he was my boyfriend, and before he knew I hated surprises, surprised me with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium for my birthday this year. It was amazing, and I loved seeing all the tanks filled with interesting fish. My favorite creatures were these little worm-like animals that were rooted in the sand, and I highly enjoyed the shark tank. I also loved touching the sting rays, and I wanted to steal one of the mini-sharks, but security is pretty tight at the Aquarium and they were watching me like a hawk.

Bodies Exhibit – I loved the Bodies exhibit at Atlantic Station. I am very interested in science, especially anatomy and physiology, and the Bodies Exhibit exceeded my expectations. Also, I went with one of my favorite people, who happens to be very knowledgeable about the human body and diseases, as he is a paramedic.

Bible verses:

Romans 8:1 – Romans continues to be my favorite book of the Bible, and Paul is my favorite author. Self-condemnation is an area of struggle for me, but Paul reminds me that I am free from condemnation now that I have a personal relationship with Christ.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

Psalm 37:4 – The psalms are balm when experiencing times of turmoil and anxiety. God via David reminds us that He wants us to have the desires of our heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Buyer Beware Part I

I have never been one to jump on the bandwagon of popular thought and trends. As an INTJ (Myers-Briggs personality), authority based on rank or title has no weight with me. I do not often succumb to slogans or sales pitches. If an idea or position makes sense to me, it will be adopted; if it does not make sense, it will not be adopted, regardless of who generated the idea. Authority per se does not impress me, though I highly respect people when it is earned.

I am fascinated by psychology and have studied it most of my life. I am particularly interested in marketing ploys that advertisers use to sell products.

Since I eschew product hype and branding, I am reluctant to advertise products to my friends and acquaintances. On the other hand, it is difficult to ascertain which products are truly beneficial, because marketers would have you believe that everything is dazzling, spectacular, and has fewer calories. I appreciate when a friend or fellow blogger passes on useful suggestions about great products. Hence, I will share some products that I enjoy.

1. Charlie’s Soap: This laundry detergent is non-toxic, biodegradable, and makes clothes smell truly fresh and clean, not just cloyingly perfumed. I have a hard time finding laundry detergent that will effectively clean my sweaty workout clothes, but this detergent is wonderful. I purchased a gallon jug (good for 128 loads) at Whole Foods for $18.

2. Amazing Concealer by Amazing Cosmetics: The skin under my eyes is dark, but this concealer covers it perfectly. It is smooth and not drying, thick but not clumpy, it brightens the eye area and does not cake or cause breakouts. It blends nicely and looks natural. It is moderately pricey at $42, but I use it every day and one tube has lasted nearly a year.

3. bare Minerals foundation by Bare Escentuals: My face is a bit dry and breaks out easily, so I am very particular about what I put on it. This mineral foundation gives me an even, bright, healthy skin tone. Bare Minerals feels weightless but provides good coverage, it is not drying or oily, it does not exacerbate my sensitive skin, and people remark that I do not appear to be wearing makeup. I enjoy all the Bare Escentuals products but I highly recommend the foundation at $25 per jar.

More to come.

Supersize Me

A long time ago, I was institutionalized in a place called High School. It was a time when I smelled like teen spirit, I adored flannel shirts, and I listened to music that my mother despised from Seattle-based bands. There was an interesting girl in many of my classes who was both academically brilliant and artistically talented, and I admired her, but both of us were quiet and shy, and sadly, I never really got to know her.
However, through the magic of facebook, we are now “friends,” and she writes a witty and insightful blog called Unruly Helpmeet that I read while I should be working. She posted a commentary on body weight and size, and I can totally relate to her thoughts, struggles, and frustrations. Thank you for your authenticity, Helpmeet.

I, too, hated my body in high school and college, which was curvy in all the wrong ways (or so I perceived at the time), and oh, how I wanted the stick body with no hips and a teeny waist that my skinny friends had. One or two negative and critical remarks from dumb boys reverberated in my head, and I constantly felt worthless about my physique.

Beginning in high school and for the past 14 years, my driver’s license has read 5’3” and 130 pounds, but there have been times when I have weighed 30 pounds more and 30 pounds less than that since I was a teenager.

After college, I got into working out seriously, and I became a vegetarian and then a vegan, and I’m in great shape now, but it never feels like I am good enough, thin enough, toned enough. I physically push myself to the limit every night in the gym, and I never eat junk, but I still have nagging thoughts that I should have done ten more minutes of cardio, should have added twenty more pounds on the squat bar, should have put less peanut butter on that sandwich.

The pain of always feeling inferior, the constant comparisons, the incessant self-deprecating thoughts are so damaging.

As to Helpmeet’s comments about clothing and makeup, I still have no sense of style. I am 30 years old, and I get to wear jeans to work, and I shop in the junior’s department because (1) I don’t know how to buy grown-up clothes or put together actual outfits, and (2) I can never find women’s clothes that fit me anyway (women’s jeans all look like mom jeans on me, pants have hugely long crotches, horrid tapered legs, or God forbid, pleats, and a lot of it feels too baggy).

The little I know about clothes and makeup, I did not learn until the past few years, mostly by actually reading books on relevant cultural issues like how to apply makeup. The nice thing about being a bookworm is that most of the answers to life I have found by reading, thereby avoiding embarrassment from asking others for information and having them wonder what is wrong with me that I don’t know these things.

Sometimes I wish that one of my well-meaning friends would turn me in to Stacy and Clinton so I could get some real advice and a clothing budget that I’d never be able to afford while working my current job in non-profit. But I’m afraid of (1) giving up the clothes that I actually feel okay in, (2) being forced to shop, (3) having to actually wear grown-up clothes, (4) having to appear on television, and (5) having my hair cut. I admit that I’m fearful of uncertainty and change.

I don’t know the answers. I don’t know how we learn to feel better about ourselves (or at least not feel guilty that we feel badly about our appearance on top of hating our bodies). I don’t know how we stop the perpetual comparisons (superiority: “at least I’m not as fat as her” or inferiority: “I wish my thighs looked like that in jeans”).

Having faith in God and reminding myself that my identity comes from Him and not from society’s airbrushed ideals helps.

But it will always be a struggle.


I have recently become interested in (aka obsessed with) makeup, as in cosmetics. I have arrived at the realization that it takes tons of expensive cosmetics, brushes and tools, and loads of time to achieve a perfect, “natural look” that makes it appear as if you are not wearing any makeup at all.

According to one “how to” website, you need the following items to achieve a natural look with your makeup: blush, brush, concealer, eye shadow, eye liner, face powder, foundation, lip gloss, lipstick, lip liner, makeup brushes, and mascara.

This is no small undertaking, folks.

After 18 years of mostly failed experimentation with makeup, I have finally realized that there is an art form to it. I was finally convinced of this fact after perusing books on how to apply makeup.

I am fascinated by psychology, especially as it relates to culture, so I began to read research that addressed the question, “What is beauty?” I suppose if I’m painfully honest, I will admit that I wanted to learn secrets that would help me to appear more attractive. While surfing Amazon, some of the “So you’d like to. . .” lists caught my eye. Some of them not only addressed beauty in a sociological sense, but I discovered many how-to books on the application of cosmetics. I also discovered that in any given chain bookstore, there are dozens of books on how to apply makeup. You’d think I would have gotten the hint sooner that this is no easy enterprise. But when I saw the volume of literature, the light bulb finally clicked on.

I am overwhelmed by the number of brands, colors, and types of makeup in the supermarket alone, where you go to purchase food, not beauty products. I have to carefully avoid this aisle so as to avoid brain overload. There is simply too much to choose from: light, dark, shimmer, matte, pressed powder, loose powder, liquid, cream, pencil, volumizing, lengthening, etc. ad nauseum. Incidentally, I feel the same way about the shampoo aisle. One major problem in our society is the availability of too many choices, but that is a commentary for another day.

Have you ever entered Sephora or a similar makeup boutique? It’s as if you’ve stepped into an alternate universe, a rip in the fabric of reality where heaven and hell coexist. There are so many pretty sparkly things. Yet there are so, so many pretty, sparkly things.

Quality of makeup does matter. You get what you pay for, which makes me feel some passive-aggressive anger, as I am a bargain shopper and wish I could tell you that the drugstore stuff is just as good.

I have looked at my face so many times in the mirror that I can not possibly begin to be objective about how I look, makeup or sans makeup.

I suspect this is true of most women. Do you see women and wonder how in the world they convinced themselves that they looked presentable (too much blush, too much eye shadow, unnatural foundation)? Am I one of those women?

This woman achieved a natural look with plenty of makeup: foundation, concealer, peach eye shadow on her lid and a darker color in the crease, mascara, highlighter on her brows, lip liner, and some nude colored lipstick. She skipped the blush to make the look appear “natural.” See how easy it is to make it look like you’re wearing nothing on your face?