#MakeupMonday: I’m So Cool

On last Thursday’s Facebook Live I premiered an entirely new vista of lipcolor: a bright vivid cranberry! Several people on the Live asked for a #MakeupMonday devoted to the look, and of course your wish is my command, so here it is:

The standout item is the lip, of course. It’s Beauty Bakerie Lip Whip in Cranberry Stiletto.


I’ve actually been seeking a bold red for about a year now! I’ve gone through SO MANY and not one was acceptable to me.

Lo and behold, it was my beloved Beauty Bakerie that held the key the whole time. And added bonus: like all Lip Whips, this will never ever ever fade or smear in any way shape or form, even through three meals and a shower (I’m serious!*), until it’s removed with a lipcolor remover (reminder: you can get the adorable Beauty Bakerie Lip Whip Remover to support this lovely black-woman-owned company, but full disclosure, you can also get ELF Kiss It Goodbye for $3, which works amazingly).

This bright red lipcolor challenge for me actually encapsulates a larger makeup challenge: finding correct colors for one’s face depending on not just skin coloring, but also skin tone and undertone, which I’d like to take today’s post to discuss further.  Ahem…

Turns out, I’m cool-toned. Very, very cool-toned.  One way they say to determine this is to ask yourself: do you always lean toward silver jewelry rather than gold?  Indeed, I wear silver exclusively, and have for decades, and have always been mystified at how gold looks so terrific on Miyako and so blah on me.  This is why.

It’s a real struggle to find makeup that is sufficiently cool-toned for my skin.  For some reason, the vast majority of products are in warm or neutral. Does anyone know why? I’d love to know.

But anyway, for those of you working on finding your best products, be aware that different brands often tend more toward warm or cool (although increasingly most do try to offer a range and are more and more careful about noting the tones in product descriptions).  So, Laura Mercier tends to warm/yellow, as does Fenty.  Becca tends toward cool, and so does Laura Geller and Kat Von D.  There is no substitute, however, to a dedicated hour or two at Sephora or Ulta swatching everything. It can feel like a pain, but it’s the only way you can figure this out for yourself.

Well, actually a consult with a staffperson might help too, but personality-wise, I will not trust some random 24-year-old to advise me on my foundation – Academic Skepticism in action – lol! (see below). Although again perhaps this is why I have SO MANY barely used makeup items (which I now share with you all – see below): for a long time I was buying stuff in the wrong tone. Excellent products that worked well… but weren’t quite right. But now I’m on track!

Red lipcolors are a particular challenge on this front.  Many, many reds are warm.  Few reds are cool.  Those that are cool can easily look cheap and purple-ish.  But now my search is finally over.  Expect to see Cranberry Stiletto in a lot of selfies from now on! I wore it to a wedding this weekend, and in Eugene, OR, land of Birkenstocks, you can bet I stood out. It may well have been the only lipstick of any color in the entire place.  I had to channel some of my makeup sheros (Ijeoma Oluo, author of the new book So You Want To Talk About Race, being the main one [going to hear her in Eugene this Thursday!]) to remember that standing out is ok.

Moving on, today’s look also features a new ultra-cool-toned eye shadow palette:  Laura Geller The Delectables in “Delicious Shades of Cool.” I got it at Nordstrom Rack for $22.99 (normally $45).  I bought this initially more as a fun play-item to share with Miyako, because the colors seemed a bit extreme. But when I started using it, I discovered that it’s actually ideal for daily wear, and better than all the other palettes I have been using–because it’s SO. EXTREMELY. COOL-TONED.

And also has amazing staying power, and very very slight sheen (perfectly poised between matte and shimmer which are both harsh).

I’m wearing Candy all over the lid, Slate in the crease, Plum as the outer-eye accent, and Carbon as liner.

Last of all in the cool-tone-challenge:  Contour.  After months of searching, I finally found some sufficiently cool-toned contour products:  MAC Sculpting Powder in “Sculpt” ($17) and Kevin Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium ($44). As Sir John, Beyonce’s makeup artist, explained in a previous post, contour products should always be cool-toned and NOT bronzers, because the point is to look like shadows, not tan!  I think this point is too little understood! But it’s also extremely difficult to execute when the whole world is awash in warm-toned, bronzy so-called “contour” products. I had a weird experience at a MAC counter once, with a staffperson patiently explaining to me that contour products should be blue-ish, while standing there with a face covered top to bottom in orangey bronzer. #WhyIDontTrustCounterStaff

Kevin Aucoin: So cool

MAC in Sculpt

Anyway, MAC in Sculpt is an excellent grey-brown shade. The product comes in a few other shades–I think “Shadowy” is probably a good cool darker tone, which I might need if I get tan over summer. The Kevin Aucoin is even cooler–a true gray taupe.  While most people would probably be fine with the MAC, for my level of cool-tone, the Kevin Aucoin (sadly, given the price) is better.

Rounding out today’s look:  Beauty Bakerie BROWNies Eyebrow Gel in Dark Brown.  That’s right–I’ve left behind the pencil. My Anastasia pencil was wonderful, but wow– eyebrow gel pigment is a Millenial innovation that is worth getting behind!  It is so much more natural looking, with way more color payoff, and staying power, and a multi-dimensional layered feel.

*Wait–turns out a Thai coconut milk-based curry will defeat it.  It’s the only thing so far I’ve found that does.

The Giveaway Continues!  Thanks to all who commented on FB last week! The winner is #2 out of 11 comments – Aysenur Sagdc (shared with permission), Georgetown Ph.D. student in Linguistics!  I think I’ll ask Aysenur about undertone so I can select the best items!

Let’s keep it going.  This week, comment on the FB thread with a substantive comment. This time, let me try another experiment. The “post a photo” one didnn’t work, but how about this:  tag somebody in your comment. I really love #MakeupMonday and love hearing from you all what you use, why you use it, and how you thinnk about makeup and skincare. So, let’s bring more people into the convo.  Comment and tag someone and I’ll enter you in the random drawing for a package of my de-stashed items. Brands include, as always: Urban Decay, Becca, Smashbox, Hempz, Hourglass…

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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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