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Beauty Look to try: political beauty by Matt Bernstein

Aug. 27, 2020
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In times like these, it can seem a little bit on the futile side to try to care about beauty. The world is (almost) literally on fire—so why should putting on some eyeshadow make any sort of difference? Well, while that attitude is tempting—and hey, if you want to opt out of personal aesthetics for the time being, that’s perfectly valid—I also think there’s got to be some level of joy in the trivial. Applying makeup can be a creative act of self-care, giving you a brief respite from the traumas of our current climate. And, as incredible MUA Matt Bernstein points out, makeup can be a form of activism, too. Want to paint a little civil justice into your daily makeup routine? His Instagram is a never-ending source of hilarious inspiration. But for a more wearable take on the political, let’s get rainbowed!

As ever, I’m preaching skin prep to begin. The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream is one of the most perfect under-makeup moisturizers I’ve tried, offering a thick, pillowy texture that plumps skin and gives a smooth, buttery feel. It also has an SPF of 15, which is certainly better than nothing. To boost your UV protection and add some pre-makeup glow, I’ve also been loving the Diego Dalla Palma UV Daily Primer Makeup Base. This has an SPF of 50, and gives skin a glass-like, luminous glow that shines through your base to help achieve that elusive “lit from within” look.

Over top, I’m a huge fan of the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50. Come on—is there anything this product can’t do? Take a tiny amount and apply with fingers for a natural base that actually offers a huge amount of coverage, too. It’s also packed with skincare-y ingredients, meaning your skin will look better even when you aren’t wearing it. And with SPF 50, you’ll also be protected throughout the day. If you do want a little boost of coverage, though, press a little bit of the Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer over any blemishes using fingertips and watch them magically disappear.

Onto the peepers—and eyelid primer is always a must for me. If you’re strapped for cash, the Milani Eyeshadow Primer is the best drugstore option I’ve ever tried. Atop, another drugstore bargain: the Maybelline 24HR Color Tattoo Single Eyeshadow in “Bad To The Bronze.” This is the perfect lazy girl eyeshadow; with just one product, you can achieve the look of a perfectly blended crease-and-highlight situation. I like to buff a layer over the entire eyelid using something fluffy (the Makeup Addiction Expert Blender Brush is my current go-to) and leave it at that. With brows in every color of the rainbow, it’s safe to go a little more minimal on the lids, after all.

For lashes, I have something very exciting to share. I’ve recently been trying out the Silly George Liner Bond Lash Adhesive Eyeliner and I’m amazed to say, it works. For those who, like me, find applying falsies impossible, it’s a total revelation. Simply use the liner pen to draw a tight line across the upper lashes, then quickly press on some falsies for a glueless finish. The Silly George The Dollies Lashes are perfect for this look—giving a wide, doe-eyed look that’s innocent (but not that innocent). Finish by blending the falsies in with your natural lashes using the Silly George Heart Eyes Tubing Mascara. This helps keep them looking more natural, and is super easy to remove with some warm water.

The obvious showstopper of this look is the brow, and it’s honestly surprisingly easy to achieve. First, comb an eyelash primer (the Wet ‘n’ Wild Photofocus Lash Primer is brilliant and a total bargain) through the entire brow in an upwards and outwards motion. This will help your color stick down and stay in place. Next, take the Viseart Editorial Brights Matte Eyeshadow Palette and the Real Techniques Angled Liner Brush and begin your color application. You want hot pink at the start of your brow, blending into orange, then yellow, then green, then aqua, then deeper blue, with lilac on the brow tail. Apply each of these colors in the area you want them without worrying about transitioning. To blend, take a clean, flat eyeshadow brush and gently tap over the areas in between shades. This tapping motion will help bring the colors together without making them too muddy. Finish with a layer of clear brow gel to set everything in place.

For cheeks, rather than contouring, go for a subtle sculpting blush like the Glossier Cloud Paint in “Dusk.” This is a rosy nude shade with a lot of brown, which helps add definition to the cheekbones while still looking very natural. I like to apply with a beauty sponge (Sunday Ivy makes great affordable ones) for a seamless finish. Add extra highlight to the cheekbones and the bridge of the nose using a dewy stick—the Burt’s Bees All Aglow Highlighter in “Opal Mist” is absolutely stunning and super affordable—and blend again with your sponge.

Line the lips with a brown-toned nude lip liner. The Marc Jacobs Poutliner Longwear Lip Pencil in “Nude-ist” is a current favorite because of its amazing formula. It goes on smoothly, but once set, it stays put for good. It’s also great at not settling into fine lines or emphasizing uneven texture. Add a hint of shimmery lip gloss to the center of the lips. The Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in “Sweet Mouth” gives just enough of a ‘90s vibe while still feeling modern and fresh.

To finish, a spritz of facial spray can help set the look and make it look even more perfectly blended. Any hydrating face mist will work, but the Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom Bio Affinity Tonic is my current go-to for looking like you’ve just emerged from a mystical lake. It’ll also help ensure all your base products have properly settled into the skin for a natural, barely-there look. 

The final touch? Add some press-on nails (Skinny Dip do some of the most out-there and brilliant colors and patterns) and pose.