A Beauty Junkie Goes Bare
By Jacqui Stafford
I’m a makeup addict. And because I’m a beauty writer who is often on TV, I can indulge my giddy delight in products: I own at least 60 lipsticks, about 75 eyeshadow palettes and a dozen or so bronzing powders. I apply as many as 20 makeup products a day and never leave home without my face on and my hair coiffed.
So I was a little alarmed when my friend Genevieve (aka More’s beauty director) suggested I swap routines with someone who, well, has no makeup and skin-care routine. Had Genevieve lost her mind? The deal was, I’d be sent the same kinds of products used by Jennifer Laing, a beauty writer whose routine is surprisingly minimalist. When the promised bag, dangerously light, arrived, I rummaged through it greedily. Here was lip balm, but where was the actual lipstick? A brow pencil? (Thank God for that.) I dug further . . . where was the eyeshadow? Eyeliner? Mascara? How would I define my little eyes? Did she expect me to go . . . bare?
I braced myself and committed for a week. My assistant—gorgeous, 22 and not an age spot in sight—was convinced I’d never make it. When I told the girls at Salih Salon (the one I visit twice weekly for volumizing blowouts), they laughed. Heartily.
Still, I was game to replace my TV-ready routine with one that, for me, would not suffice even in the Australian outback. (Sorry, Jen.) I figured doing without for a week would validate the importance of doing with.
The first day was fairly easy. Jennifer’s skin care was simple: cleanser plus moisturizing sunscreen. Anxiously, I canceled my triannual visit for injectables and my monthly appointment for a brightening Clear + Brilliant Perméa laser treatment. I took stock in the mirror. Without all that TLC, would my face hold up?
In the shower that morning, I missed my gel’s aroma of handpicked lavender. However, Jennifer’s unscented body wash felt richly creamy. Her light body lotion soaked in instantly, leaving my skin as perfectly hydrated as my delicious Jo Malone body cream does. But I missed my heavenly scents.
Next, I blew out my hair with a paddle brush and blow-dryer. A professional blowout Tuesdays and Fridays is one of the luxuries I consider nonnegotiable. It makes my whisper-fine, straight hair more Adele-like (at least in my mind). Now, my rusty DIY efforts yielded a frizzy, limp mess. So I teased my roots, pulled my hair into a high ponytail and slipped in a sparkling barrette. Better.
But not enough better that I could go public. So I didn’t leave my apartment all day, and when a delivery guy rang the bell, I cracked the door and stuck my hand through. (Baby steps.)
The second day was even tougher, so I was forced to cheat. I appear weekly on QVC as a style expert, and I told myself that I couldn’t expect viewers to buy anything from someone who looked so blah. So I applied (a lot) more makeup than Jennifer usually does—and tried not to feel guilty about it.
To assuage said guilt, the next day I went commando. No eye makeup at all; just a dash of taupe brow pencil (how I hate anything taupe) and a slick of colorless lip balm. The temptation was immense to grab that brow pencil and dot it along my upper lash line to add something (anything!) to my invisible lashes. But I didn’t. Instead, I strode purposefully toward the door, pausing to say good-bye to my daughter’s nanny, Ingrid.
“I’m going out. Just like this,” I said. “Oh, Lord!” Ingrid said. “Good luck!” And then she disappeared into my little one’s room, stifling a giggle.
I met up with my assistant at a store. “No! I can’t believe you actually did it!” she exclaimed. She peered at me, then rendered a verdict: “I think you look beautiful. Your skin is gorgeous.” But she was being kind. Besides, I pay her. “Aren’t you that woman on TV?” one of the salesclerks asked a few minutes later. “Yes. Do you recognize me?” I asked incredulously. “Of course,” she replied, confused.