I’ve been letting the Ask Afrobellas stack up to a frightening level, and now it’s reckoning time.
This question came from a real life friend o’ mine, WLRN jazz DJ and sagacious sistren Tracy Fields. Lovers of straight-ahead jazz and women with soothing, melodic speaking voices can give her a listen on Weekend Jazz, every Saturday night from 8 pm to midnight.
Tracy sent me this question months ago, and I’m only just getting around to answering it. I know. I’m a great friend. Better late than never!
“I’ve been thinking about updating my look. It is something for me even to think about having A Look; it’s always been like, if I’m warm enough, I’m properly dressed. I find myself suddenly interested in appearing a bit polished and pulled-together at the various venues of my split-personality work life. How would you advise a Grown Woman, who FYI has no intention of cutting her locks, to proceed?”
For the record, Tracy has some of the longest, loveliest dreadlocks I have ever seen. She is a natural beauty with twinkling eyes and a ready smile. So my advice is, accentuate those gorgeous features with a little make up!
I think an initial foray into the amazing world of make up should set a newbie back no more than $25. Yes, bellas — it can be done.
The best place to start is with eyeliner. I remember when I first started wearing it, I was so intimidated. Having seen a Bruce Lee film in which he pulls some dude’s eyes out with his fingers at a young and impressionable age, I have a complete eye-touching phobia. Eyeliner seems daunting at first, but trust me – when you master it, you won’t want to leave home without it on!
Draw a straight, smooth line along the bottom of your eye, from the inside corner to the outside edge. You don’t want to apply liner inside your eye, as this can cause eye infections, and also can create goopy, gross, black eye gunk in the corner of your eye. In my opinion, it generally helps to look up while applying eyeliner. I’m at the point where I just let my eye roll completely back, Forest Whitaker style, to apply my liner. To each his own, and you will find your own application comfort zone with practice.
A good eye liner for newbies is the Physician’s Formula Eye Definer. Why? Because it’s hypoallergenic, and won’t bother those with sensitive eyes. Plus, there’s no sharpening required and it costs $5.50!
The idea of an eyebrow wax might freak out a makeup novice, but it’s really not so bad. I am a complete waxing wuss, and I have wept and bled like Steve Carrell in the 40 Year Old Virgin on the waxing bed before. But with my eyebrows, I have no fear.
Go to the nail salon at the mall, it costs $8 – $10 ($13 with tip), close your eyes and zip-zip-zip, it’s done before you have time to freak out. Trust me.
Neatly shaped brows make a huge difference to your whole face, and waxing can be a quick way to discovering an elegant eyebrow for those who have never plucked or shaped before. An eyebrow brush is always a handy tool, and at the very least you can shape up your brows by tweezing long, curly, or errant hairs. Just don’t get pluck happy – we have all seen what can result from that.
To complete the fabulous and super-easy eye look, swipe on some mascara. My current fave is Maybelline Full N Soft, which is gentle, wonderfully subtle, and gives my lashes great definition.
Then I tried their Brightening Eye Liner in Gilded, and I became a believer! I also dig their Moisture Care Lip Color, which squooshes out of a soft sponge applicator. It gives a faint tinge of color, and a lot of shine.
If you’re looking for more pigment but not an overt, heavy lipstick look, try the Super Glossy Lip Shine.
It’s smooth, it moisturizes your lips without leaving them sticky, the color is subtle but noticeable, it has SPF-15, and like I said, it costs a buck! You really can’t go wrong.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, the more daunting worlds of concealer, blush, and bronzer seem much less so.
For those who remain apprehensive, there’s no need to feel ill-at-ease in a store like Sephora — you might wind up spending $50, but the assistants there are truly eager to help you find the perfect products in the right shade for you.
Playing up your eyes and lips are an easy beginning step for the make up wary, and it’ll get you those “hey, are you… wearing makeup?” comments you can expect from nosy (but well-meaning) co-workers.
Hope that helps!