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Can makeup be a catalyst to your health?

September 18, 2009

I went through a phase after having my second child where the thought of putting on actual makeup was honestly more than I could bear. It wasn’t the actual putting on the the spackle itself that kept me from applying & painting on even the most basic maquillage–no, it was the thought of having to take it off, something that even on my best, pre-kids-but-too-tired-or-I-drank-too-much days I wasn’t honestly very good about. Ya know?

One of the few desires we women retain immediately after giving birth, even though our insides may feel like they’ve been sliced up by a tiny warrior with a sharp samurai–and really, they have, haven’t they?–is to look pretty. Well, that and sushi. And maybe a glass of Schramsberg. I remember being in the hospital after my C-section with baby #2. I had baby number one vaginally (I stand corrected*), so this was wow, major for me. Despite being gutted and spending the next 24 hours on a morphine drip, I was determined that I was going to look pretty for my visitors and all the damn pictures they were going to take of me the next day. Dammit.

My best friend became CHANEL ROUGE DOUBLE INTENSITÉ ULTRA WEAR LIP COLOUR (Allure Best Winner) in SANDSTONE (a kind of brown but with just a touch of rose–not too deep but not too light…perfect for a redhead with fair skin and green eyes.) This is the ONLY long wear lip color I have found that I can wear that doesn’t dry out my lips at all. A few tips though: before you apply your lips must be completely dry and smooth. This is critical. Also, no lip liner is needed–if you’re a lip liner girl, you can use the tip to line first, or even put some on a lip brush, though I personally feel just putting it on and smacking your lips together is by far the best method. Works for me in the rear-view mirror just fine! Only apply while it’s wet if you feel you need more color or else it gets cakey. Wait at least 5 minutes before applying the clear gloss and ONLY apply their clear gloss throughout the day. I’ve tried other glosses or different brands on top and it WON’T work. Cost: $34 (Seems like a lot BUT I use it daily, apply it ONCE and use the same one for 3 months. TOTALLY worth it.) Lots of other colors available.

BTW-my lips looked awesome in the pix which you don’t get to see because if you’re a mom and you’ve just had baby and you’d put on 60 pounds–and now it’s 4 years later & you’ve finally lost all that weight-well, that’s why.

I also depend on my DIORSHOW WATERPROOF MASCARA IN BLACK (InStyle Award Winner). Cost: $20. There are several Dior mascaras out there and I’ve tried them all. But THIS is the one you want (or if you don’t like waterproof, go for the regular formula–but I’m just sayin). Hell, there are a kabillion mascaras on the market–and I’ve probably tried them all too! This mascara, however, is like none I’ve ever used before. Silky, volumizing, lengthening, inky black, shiny–all in one. I do use it with my Shu Uemura eyelash curler (amazing, like no other) and an eyelash primer (currently Smashbox but I think any kind will do) which helps the curl stay and also helps the mascara adhere much better.

I’ve found this process works best for me: Put a small amount of powder foundation on lids (for shadow later). Then apply the primer to lashes; then curl lashes. After about one minute or so, apply first coat of mascara. Start at base and wiggle wand so you cover the whole base of the lashes. Then move up slowly to middle area. The to tips. Finally close eye slightly and do TOPS of lashes, focusing especially on the outer ends. Coating this area of your lashes slightly really darkens them and also gets more product on the tips, which helps to really open up your eyes.

Before second coat, apply any shadow or liner (love Revlon Colorstay in Black or Navy). Recurl if necessary. Apply second coat if desired.

Tip: I use either MAC or Bobbi Brown eye shadows. Great pigment, super colors. I know it seems like an unnecessary expense right now, but if you find one great lid color (my current fave is BOBBI BROWN METALLIC EYE SHADOW in VELVET PLUM or SHIMMER WASH in STONE (Allure Best of Award Winner)–both @ Neiman’s for $20), that’s really all you need and honestly it will last six months. I don’t really use the highlighter or liner colors that tend to come in the more expensive sets on an everyday basis anyway.

So, eyes, lips…let’s see…face! Yea, I don’t know about you, but I’m 45 and still breaking out. Not as much as I was a few years back though. Not at all. But it totally sucks, right? I wish I had an easy answer for you. I don’t. But here are a few things that have helped me, and that I hope can be helpful for you as well:

I found out after being overwhelmingly exhausted and abnormally fatigued about one year after giving birth to baby #2 that, in addition to being having a mild case of PPD (which we expected since I had it with my first pregnancy), I was anemic, had Hashimoto’s disease (thyroid), and insulin resistance All of this had been undiagnosed by my local family practitioner, who is a very nice man but who unfortunately sees anywhere from 15-30 patients an hour and like every other doc on the block, has a laser business on the side.

Now, I was a pharma rep for 15 years. I know how to read my bloodwork. I know how to find a great doc. I had a great doc, albeit a busy one. Fortunately I have a PPO and found myself the very best endocrinologist in Orange County, CA. She spent TWO HOURS with me on our first appointment, getting my history, going over the bloodwork (which she had ordered when I booked the appointment 4 months prior!) and I will tell you, it was the most extensive bloodwork I had ever had done. And we had done genetic testing! Ultimately, my diagnosis was PCOS (check out their site for more info: and all the symptoms and problems I had were related to that.

Long story short, you name it, it was off. Now I’m taking lots of natural supplements and meds that have me all ship shape. This doc is a great combo of western and eastern philosophies and that works for me…I don’t take anything too out there–lots of B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, fish oil, lactobacillus. We did add an Rx iron that doesn’t upset my stomach called Repliva, Metformin (for the insulin resistance), nicotinamide for my acne and topical Ziana (Vitamin A–helps wrinkles too!).

I also had to stop ingesting sugar–believe it or not, sugar is bad for your skin! Who knew? (Check this out: I mean, obviously it’s bad for weight loss; now I HAD to stop eating it because of the insulin resistance. Did you know there’s sugar in most breads? Not “it will turn to sugar once you eat it” sugar (which it will, of course) but actual SUGAR in the ingredients? in crackers? in milk? in beef jerky? salad dressing? I’m like any health-obsessed woman in America–I checked labels; yet I could not tell you the sugar in a Vitamin Water (26 BTW). The nutritionist I met with told me to keep each item I eat under 5 grams of sugar. Do you know how hard it is to be an American and keep your sugar grams under 5?

The other thing she told me that blew me away is that ingesting fake sugar (diet Coke addicts in da house?) is not doing yourself any favors. Your pancreas reacts in the exact same way as if it’s receiving sugar. The whole insulin, fat cycle starts regardless of whether the sugar is real or fake. So, if you crave a Coke, have a sip or two and then toss it. Ice cream? Chocolate? Same principle. And eat more veges. A LOT more veges. And drink OMG so much water.

So, what’s this all have to do with my foundation? The day after my second baby was born? I do feel that while some women have a wonderful pregnancy glow about them and need no makeup, that was NOT me. I was sallow, had dark circles (though don’t all new moms?), was broken out, and I just didn’t feel pretty. Concealer and foundation were–and still are–my best friend. Choosing one that suits you is highly personal and worth a trip to the department store or the beauty supply store, I feel, because when I see a woman with stripey foundation that’s too dark or too light, I just want to go up to her, hold her down, and scrub her face clean and skin match her myself–don’t you? None of us wants to be THAT woman, and yet some of us unknowingly are. I use CHANEL or LAURA MERCIER, OIL-FREE and I love it.

Almay and L’oreal have some pretty good choices if that’s your budget, but please, bring a friend or have someone help you. If you are looking for a green choice, go with Physician’s Formula’s new paraben free organic line. All are available on or at CVS.

My final tip is makeup removal: I LOVE LOVE LOVE ALMAY NON-OILY EYE MAKEUP REMOVER PADS. They’re cheap, remove even waterproof mascara easily (just make a little pad sandwich and soak for a few seconds), and in a pinch or fit of laziness, you can even remove your face makeup with them. LOVE THEM. Available at any drugstore or click here Keep em by the bed and take it all off when you, you know, take it all off. Tee hee.

So those are my essentials. Lips, shadow, lashes, face, make-up remover. Ix-nay on the Ugar-shay. Eat your veges. Drink water. Take your vitamins. And please, if you feel more tired than your average bear, go to your doctor and ask for a really intensive set of bloodwork. Or make the effort to find a GREAT doc like I did. It was life-changing for me. I lost weight, my skin cleared up, I have WAYYY more energy, and I feel good–that’s what’s most important. I can function as a mom, wife, woman, and writer and not feel as if I’m going to pass out. Never a good thing when you’re doing carpool!

What finally got me to the doctor was that I didn’t even have the energy to put on my concealer and foundation–and I always put on my concealer and foundation because of years of breakouts, scarring, etc. Something had to be done! Who knew that not putting on my makeup would be the catalyst to getting me healthy? Guess I have to be thankful for all those years of acne after all.


*I had put “naturally” as opposed to “vaginally” in regards to how I had gave birth to my first child in my original post but apparently that was an issue to some people who knew that I had an epidural. Not that I was IN ANY WAY trying to hide that fact. Especially given the fact that by the time I was pushing my daughter out the epidural had been turned off completely and believe me, I felt her entire little body come out of me AND the episiotomy without any anesthesia whatsoever.

Each woman comes out of her labor a warrior and we all wear that badge proudly. How we do it is a personal matter. I respect all women who have been through labor, whether you do it in a bath full of water, via C-section, or morphined up to la-la land…we all do what we feel is right for us.

If, however, I’ve offended you by accidentally using a term incorrectly, for that I apologize.

One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    I absolutely adore your blog, and you for that matter, you are wise and smart and funny and a warrior, it's refreshing to find someone like you. My hat is of to you, please keep on writing. Have a fantastic day!

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