I hate rules. Except for the rules I made up for myself, like always keep an open mind; lightly smile at people whenever possible, except for say, unwanted suitors; and don’t go on gratuitous multi-day party binges that render you incapacitated on the couch, face-first in a loaf of bread because your body is too tired to crave anything but gross amounts of carbohydrates (that’s not a steadfast rule, but it’s good to have goals). Then there are the so-called, unofficial rules of beauty, imposed upon us by women’s magazines, beauty editors, trend-forecasters, moms, sometimes even your friends and potentially worst of all, ourselves.
I’ve never been a fan of taking the stuff spouted by creatively dehydrated publications—the ones firing off rules in a manner devoid of irony could be nothing but uncreative—or other people too seriously. Some practical rules like, “Wear sunscreen” and “Take off your makeup before you go to bed,” are worth heeding. Although cosmetic mastermind Charlotte Tilbury swears that nearly every night, she wipes her face clean of the day’s products and promptly reapplies a full face, explaining she uses “a little under-eye brightener… then the eye goes back on, and maybe a little tint on the cheeks.” That’s commitment. She has also said, “Beauty is not this exclusive club shrouded in secrecy—everyone can look beautiful!”
There’s a difference between a bossy rule and a healthy suggestion. Here’s to debunking the former. Pick your cliché: Rules are made to be broken; beauty is in the eye, and hands, of the beholder; and when it comes to what you consider to be beautiful, the only rule is there are no rules.
1. You shouldn't wear heavy eye makeup and bright or deep lipstick at once.
Nonsense. Whoever said you can’t have it all probably didn’t have very much fun. Some girls can’t stomach a fully made-up eye and a richly saturated lip; some have zero tolerance for makeup whatsoever—not my jam, but that’s perfectly fine. They are the ones likely leading more carefree and productive lives. I, on the other acrylic nail-topped hand, happen to live for a heavily layered, smoked-out eye and a big-ass bold lip. I’m talking coats of eyeliner, of both the liquid and pencil variety, complemented by a deliberate mix of powder and cream eye shadows, sometimes blended damn near up to the eyebrow, right along with that fire-engine red, oxblood, neon-violet, goth-plum or power-fuchsia lip. I’ve found what makes it work is juxtaposing the textures. Creamy-rich lipstick? Counter it with a lid more matte in texture. Or if you’re electing bronze-goddess shimmer around your eyes, opt for a so-matte-it-won’t-budge breed of lipstick.
Try: Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Luminous Modern-Matte Lipstick in Hel’s Bells
2. Having under-eye circles is always a bad thing.
I once had a conversation with a gorgeous girl who proclaimed her disdain for concealer, as well as her unmitigated refusal to wear it. Aghast, I pleaded for an answer, “Why?!” She shrugged. “I think dark circles are so much sexier. It keeps you from looking too perfect.” I thought about it. If “looking too perfect” is your number one problem when looking in the mirror, then, well, then nothing. Life’s not fair! I was reminded of a decade-plus-old interview with Angelina Jolie in which she mentioned she preferred wearing gray lipstick because her natural lip color is “too pink.” Yep. Too pink. Back to those dark circles. Think 24-hour party girls. Think heroin chic, minus the methadone clinic to follow. Think sooty bedroom eyes from not investing enough time in actually sleeping in your bedroom. Think sweeping some eye glitter across your lid like it’s nothing and keeping your lips balmy-bare. Don’t think showing up to the office after a night out. That’s why concealer was invented in the first place.
Try: Too Cool for School Glam Rock Extreme Color Eyes Eyeliner in Ecstasy
3. Pressed powder will make you look like something collecting dust in a museum.
When women are posed with the question, “If you could wear only one item of makeup, which would it be?” most respond mascara, while natural types will say lip balm. Not I. If you were to rob me of my hefty cosmetic pouch, I would cling to my compact of pressed powder like grim death. Make Up For Ever’s Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation, to be specific. A bit of dewy shine is bound to ensure you look alive, but there’s a fine line between quenched and greasy. A healthy dabbing of old-fashioned powder refines your skin and instantly makes you look more polished—and not necessarily older.
Try: Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation
4. Redheads should avoid wearing bright red or hot pink lipstick.
Basically, any alleged rule directed at scarlet-haired women ought to be catapulted into outer space. Because they are stupid. Moreover, there’s nothing like a good conscious color-clash, and redheads, bottle or born, especially of the fiery persuasion, get to capitalize on a beautiful mismatch of color. Blazing tresses and a popping magenta lip? For sure. Strawberry realness and a Hollywood red pout? Divine. Although, I do feel the need to point out warm-toned reds tend to work best, as opposed to blue-based reds; that’s just generally speaking and again, it’s not written in stone.
Try: Yves Saint Laurent Beaute Rouge Pur Couture Satin Radiance Lipstick in Le Fuchsia
Street art by Eduardo Kobra.
Images (from left to right): Karlie Kloss, Charlotte Tilbury, eye circles, Too Cool for School, Joan Smalls, Make Up for Ever, Emma Stone, Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue, Quai Hairspray, Jennifer Lopez, Kevyn Aucoin, eyebrows, Dritz Quilting Tweezers, mascara, IT Cosmetics, Kendall Jenner and Dior Poison.
5. Steer clear of hairspray.
Forget helmet head. There’s nothing stiffer than a narrow-minded point of view. However, there is a logically negative association or two behind many modern ladies’ disdain for mega-hold hair potion, and it’s not just strands that snap and crackle. The aerosol pesticide technology used in World War II bug spray containers is the same mechanism first applied to hairspray cartridges. Oh, and that whole pesky depleting ozone-layer situation. Now in many more considerate forms and with many more touchable-hair formulas, hairspray should be liberated of its bad rap once and for all. A blast of the stuff is great for making a strategic style stay in place or achieving reckless, rock ‘n’ roll grit.
6. Avoid dark lip liner.
Kylie Jenner. Pillow lips. Injections and fillers. A lot of talk about lips lately, no? It’s been said dark liner looks unrealistic and tacky. Not only is lip liner a great way to prep your lips and ensure your lipstick stays on longer, the color ought to correspond to the ultimate shade you’ve chosen. Your lip liner should roughly match your lipstick, bottom line. Unless, of course, you’re channeling mid-nineties swagger by doing a dark brown-ish line beneath a much lighter lip color, and if so, I fully support your choice.
Try: Kevyn Aucoin The Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Deep Brown
7. Don’t tweeze above your eyebrows.
This one became a rule to keep clueless and/or tweezer-happy women from dipping into their natural brow lines and hacking them up into sad, jagged oblivion. True, when you’re plucking, the majority of unwanted hairs sit below, on or around the brow bone. While the minimal removal of eyebrow hair is optimum (they shape your face, they’re the most important features on the face, a solid 45 percent of Cara Delevingne’s epic success can be attributed to her hefty brows, and so on and so forth), you know your face and hair pattern better than anyone else, so snatch those hairs wherever you please. This is off the subject of eyebrows, but I have a disturbingly hearty hair that grows from a mole on my jawline, and if I don’t pluck it on the regular, I get a wise, ancient Chinese philosopher look going on.
8. Don’t apply mascara to your bottom lashes.
Come on! Some will argue it’s messy, granting you nothing but raccoon eyes. Sure, if you rub your eyes or gravely misuse the wand. If you’re applying mascara to your top lashes, why should the baby sisters on the bottom get neglected? It hurts their feelings. Just be gentle, avoiding a heavy hand, or use mascara that comes with a proportionately scaled-down wand. Clinique and Maybelline both make good ones expressly for our daintiest eyelashes, while IT Cosmetics’ primer-turned-mascara does double duty.
9. Dark purple or black lipstick is just for goths, people who worked at Hot Topic in 2002 and the original St. Mark’s street urchins.
Don’t fear the bad, tantalizing abyss of the dark lip (and I mean bad in the best kind of way). If you work it right, it can look really good. The key is softening the rest of your visage, as well as styling your look with the right balance of hard elements and high-contrast femininity, like a single piece of diamond-accented spiked jewelry and a sleek, curve-hugging cocktail dress. Nothing complements a dangerous plum or wicked-daring liquorish lip like subtly bronzed, glowing skin and sweetly flushed cheeks.
Try: Dior Rouge Dior Couture Color Lipstick in Poison Matte