#MakeupMonday: Finding My Asian American Mirrors – WOC Guest Post

I’m delighted to present another guest post in my series by black women and other women of color.  I always want more!  Please submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer.  I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.

Today’s writer, Dr. Wendy Laybourn, is a recent University of Maryland Ph.D.  This fall she began her first tenure-track position in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis (her undergrad alma mater!). Her research examines racial and ethnic identity formation, particularly the effects of cross-racial interactions, as well as racialization, and media. Most recently, her book with Devon Goss entitled, Diversity in Black Greek Letter Organizations: Breaking the Line, was published this summer with Routledge.


By Wendy Laybourn

On campus in IT Cosmetics’ Your Skin But Better CC Cream; skin flawless despite the intense heat!

For most of my life, makeup has been a struggle. I came of age in the 90s and while all my classmates were experimenting with makeup in middle school, I felt lost. Seventeen, Young & Modern, and Cosmo Girl! were the go to resources for seemingly every aspect of teen girlhood, but as an Asian American girl certain aspects just didn’t resonate – especially when it came to the latest makeup trends and tutorials.

Every makeup How To was focused on eye shadow placement with reference to the eyelid crease, but as a person with a monolid I was stumped. Though eye shadow was impossible, I still tried to give mascara a try. But, even then, I found that I couldn’t quite get that right either. With tiny lashes that curled out, under, down, any way but up, mascara seemed to find its way to all the wrong places.

It didn’t help that I was virtually the only Asian American in my class. Compounding my makeup quandaries was the fact that I was adopted by a white family. This meant that no one knew how to approach the makeup issue with me – not friends, not friends’ moms, and not my own family. Over time, I learned that makeup was just not for me.

At my favorite local coffee shop, wearing Becca Liptuitive Glow Lip Gloss.

While college is often the time for coming into your own and meeting co-ethnic peers (especially for Asian adoptees), this was not the case for me. Since I attended my hometown university and since my hometown had an almost insignificant Asian American population, there was still no way for me to join my girlfriends in the nightly routine of getting glammed up for going out… or at least not in a way that naturally accentuated my features.

The internet explosion revolutionized how I saw myself – not only because Asian Americans, like other communities of color, used online platforms like YouTube to create alternative programming featuring Asian Americans and centering Asian American experiences, but also specifically because of the beauty vlogging world. It was here that I was introduced to folks like Michelle Phan, Jenn Chae (From Head to Toe), and Claire Marshall (Hey Claire), among others.

Off-campus work day, in ColourPop crème formula in Julep

While I knew that my eye shadow placement would be different than folks with a double eyelid, until seeing their makeup videos it never occurred to me that there would be different types and sizes of tapered, rounded, and domed eye shadow brushes that would be most appropriate for smaller eyelids and monolids.

Most recently I attended a Korean adoptee conference where a fellow Korean adoptee and makeup artist, Annie Haubenhofer (YouTube/IG: thecityinthesky), presented a hands-on workshop for eye makeup application. That workshop changed my (makeup) life. Now I almost always wear a full face of makeup with the confidence that I am doing so in a way that best emphasizes my features. After spending most of my life, not seeing myself reflected in magazines, media, or in my social settings, being able to present a glammed up face to the person in the mirror and the world is long overdue.


Product list:

Sigma brushes – Good quality at a decent mid-range price (around $15-20 per brush). Plus, they are ideal for smaller lids. I first learned about these brushes from watching Jenn (From Head to Toe), where she recommended them because of the size and density of the bristles. All of my everyday eye shadow brushes are Sigma brushes.

ColourPop – I’ve recently fallen in love with ColourPop. Their eye shadow palettes are gorgeous and with the price range ($12-25), they’re an inexpensive way to experiment with new colors. I also really like their lip colors – vibrant and long-lasting.

BECCA Liptuitive Glow Lip Gloss – For the days when you just want a touch of natural color. The Liptuitive Glow Lip Gloss enhances your natural lip color (or intensifies any lip color you might be wearing) and provides a high shine.

IT Cosmetics’ Your Skin But Better CC cream – I love the light but buildable coverage of this CC cream. And, I can attest to its staying power. Even in the Southern heat and humidity, it does not budge. (Of course, I use a primer before application, which also helps.)

SokoGlam Dr. G sunscreen – Sunscreen is an absolute must! I use Dr. G Brightening Up Sun SPF 50. Even if your CC cream has SPF, which IT Cosmetics’ does, the amount of product needed to achieve full coverage is probably much, much more than you typically use. Ensure you are getting proper sun protection by using a separate sunscreen.

SokoGlam Banila CO Clean It Zero oil cleanser – Once I started using oil cleansers I could not go back to any other kind. Banilla CO Clean It Zero cleansers are my favorite and there are three different formulas to choose from depending on your skin type.

A nice alternative is L’Occitaine’s shea butter cleansing oil

Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade – On the rare days that I don’t do a full face, I always at bare minimum do my brows (and of course wear sunscreen!).



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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.

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