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.
Occasionally during the week, I’d catch sight of myself in a mirror, devoid of makeup, and think, Where did my eyes go? But as the days wore on, it felt remarkably liberating to just get up . . . and go.
I also began to forget that I didn’t have my face on, so I became increasingly less self-conscious. If I didn’t give my low-maintenance look any thought, then neither did anyone else. I questioned my assumptions: Did anyone honestly care if I was wearing makeup? Did they treat me any differently when I was au naturel? I was surprised to find that the answer was no, not really. The only person giving it a moment’s thought was . . . me.
But as this exercise wound down, I realized that what I think is what matters most. And the truth is, I just feel better—prettier and more professional—when I’ve given myself every cosmetic advantage. My low-maintenance mother says I was born this way—that as a toddler, I’d insist on a change of hair bow just as she was trying to hurry my twin sister and me out the door. “But what’s wrong with your yellow one?” Mom would plead, one foot in the car. “It doesn’t match my dress,” I’d wail. So as much as I grasp the convenience of dialing it back, I won’t be doing it regularly. I like looking my best and enjoy every moment of the primping process.
A Minimalist Goes Glam
By Jennifer Laing
I’ve been a beauty writer for 20 years, but for the past decade my office has been a desk in the living room. That means my work wardrobe is jeans and a T-shirt, and my grooming routine is similarly low-key: cleanser, tinted moisturizer, cream blush, eyebrow pencil, some lip balm. I blow-dry my own hair, and I wear nail polish . . . almost never. So when More asked me to switch routines with Jacqui Stafford—who appears on TV regularly and is never without impeccable hair and makeup—I knew I was in for beauty boot camp.
First, there was the e-mail from Jacqui detailing her daily routine. It began, “Jen, don’t panic,” and went on to enumerate a long list of cosmetics and -personal-care items. Next, a bag of these “Jacqui products” arrived, jammed with scented body wash and lotion, five bottles of nail color, three bottles of moisturizer, an eyelash curler—you get the picture. Then I received a schedule of Jacqui’s maintenance appointments, which include blowouts at an Upper East Side salon and regular visits to not one but two dermatologists. I was overwhelmed, but also a bit excited.
My new daily routine started with Erbe Lavender shower gel, followed by an application of Jo Malone Grapefruit body cream. Both were divine, and as Jacqui promised, they transformed a ho-hum morning washup into a spa-level experience.
I could have lingered in the shower just inhaling the aromas, but there was makeup to put on—and a lot of it: an Olay CC cream, a Clé de Peau concealer, a T. LeClerc pressed powder, an Urban Decay eyeshadow primer, several Bobbi Brown eyeshadows, two Nars blushes, a Make Up For Ever concealer pencil, a By Terry eyeliner, a Maybelline mascara, a Shiseido lip color and a Chanel lip gloss. According to Jacqui, applying all this would take me just six and a half minutes. It took 20. By the time I was done, my son was late for preschool and I still hadn’t made the bed or cleaned up the breakfast dishes. Telling myself to start earlier the next morning, I raced out the door. As I was leaving the school, another mom asked where I was going all dressed up. Since I was wearing my usual jeans and a T-shirt, she was obviously responding to my Olympic-level makeup. I took this as positive reinforcement.
Jacqui’s weekly routine also included two salon blowouts. So I went to her favorite spot, where Nurten, Jacqui’s stylist, did a fabulous job: My hair was bouncy, with a hard-to-achieve-on-your-own bend at the ends. Checking myself in a window, I had to admit I did look better.
The makeup application got easier as the week wore on, but I never came close to Jacqui’s record time. What’s more, by the end of the day, I was dying to wash everything off.
Fast-forward to Friday. I had a blowout at 8:45 am and appointments with Jacqui’s doctors Fredric Brandt, MD, and his associate Robert Anolik, MD, at 10:30 am. Alas, I woke with a sniffle. But here’s the amazing thing: After applying my makeup, I looked so refreshed, no one guessed I was under the weather. Coupled with another bouncy blowout from Nurten, my beauty camouflage started to fool even me.
At the dermatologists’ office, I was put through the Jacqui Maintenance Plan: Botox and a Clear + Brilliant Perméa laser treatment that targeted uneven texture, tone and pore size. I was not a dermatology virgin; I go for a yearly mole check, and I’ve had some Botox. But my appointments have been erratic (often based on time and cash flow) and spaced too far apart to keep up the effects. However, seeing the drastic improvement produced by this duo (I looked five years younger) made me think dermatologist visits were worth prioritizing.
The one area where I cheated: my nails. Jacqui said she did her own once a week. But I am a disaster with a polish brush. Plus, I was coming around to all this pampering. I asked myself, WWJD (What would Jacqui do?), then dashed across the street to my neighborhood salon for a manicure (with Essie Master Plan, a soft gray) and a pedicure (with Essie Capri, a creamy orange).
There was no denying it: By the end of our swap, I’d never looked better. But I also didn’t recognize myself.
A few weeks after our switch, little of my makeover remained. I’d dialed back the cosmetics to my previous level, except I was now swiping on some actual lip color. I couldn’t keep up with the blowouts, but I did schedule follow-up appointments with the dermatologists. For the rest, I’m back to my casual approach. My husband and sons seem to prefer a less-is-more look; the week of the swap, I got only air-kisses. Plus, I’ve decided wearing lots of makeup makes me feel as if I’m hiding something. While I appreciate how pulled together swingy hair or perfect eye makeup makes me look, I feel more like myself without them.
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