By Iulia Gheorghe
One of the reasons I cherish late December days is the frostiness of the air that stops dead the oily secretions of my sebaceous glands. It’s a Christmas miracle: my head doesn’t look like a disco ball anymore. Hot summer days and nights be damned, I prefer the red nose and Rudolph’s panoply than spitting grease through my pores. In winter I don’t have to “powder my nose”, an euphemism of choking in a stratocumulus of sheer oil free pressed-powder for a limited (ten to fifteen minutes of almost matte skin) effect. Therefore, putting my face on winter days is a kind of jolly experience: six minutes tops of painting myself while my dog is taking pleasure in scrubbing his ass on the fluffy microfiber bathroom rug. Of course I’m too concentrated in applying eyeliner to organize its expulsion in a Trump-alike intervention, so the dog gets an exceptional visa for the bathroom territory thanks to make-up.
There are some products that I can apply only in winter, especially in December when we exhume enthusiastically sequin bustier dresses and silver lamé shirts so nothing is really over-the-top. I feel like winning one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, except it's not for the chocolate factory, but for the glowing skin. The true glow, not the greasy shine.
I can see your halo halo halo…
It is said that this pastel-coloured powder pearls hold the secret to Stardust technology thanks to a light-creating polymer which envelops your face in a radiant perfecting halo. I’m not sure that I want to know what polymers are and how they are chemically obtained, but I was surprised by their natural and impeccable “hit me like a ray of sun” effect. Of course, if you are used to YouCam Perfect photo filters you won’t be that impressed. The bubbly pearls are confined like precious Ladurée macarons in a flowery box and they smell like a violet-sucking sexy vampire maiden. Before dipping into the piggy bank, note that they are pricey, but they last for ages.
Santa baby, been an awful good girl
An awful good girl who doesn’t blush. For that invigorating, cheerful tint of pink I turn to this product with an austere description; “a duo blusher powder for adding colour to your face”. This is so Angela Merkel lost in a drugstore…but the result is more like an air of Karlie Kloss after a sleighing ride. What I like most about this blush is that it makes you look healthish even after a drinkmas session or a late-night “we didn’t reach the yearly business goals” work reunion.
Kiss me, and you will see how important I am (dixit Sylvia Plath)
I love a bold, statement lip, but finding a lipstick with a flattering shade that lasts smooth for a couple of hours can sometimes be more challenging than finding the love of your life. This lipstick deserves to be nominated to the Nobel Prize of happy lips. The chilly hue is gala: make me merry all night! Moreover, feel free to snack constantly, it resists pretty well to lip-licking. Who cares about the lipstick stained hot cocoa mugs when you finally smile like you mean it!
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
The cherry on the cake is this multi-skilled audacious highlighter: you can use it on your cheeks, for strobing and also as an eye shadow. Your whole face is invited to the party! Purists be reassured: this nacreous formula is paraben-free and talc-free. If you are tired of subtle effects and you wanna play big for this New Year’s Eve, use it as an all-over-finishing powder.
Whoever you are, you are more than welcome at the glitter soirée
What about your winter fetish make-up products? Are you more of a minimalist or an extravaganza devotee? When it comes to putting my face on, what I enjoy the most is the diversity of creative ways to do it. And as Ian Thomas Malone wrote in The Transgender Manifesto:
“Makeup can be used to express yourself. Those experiences should not be limited to women. Everyone should be free to be as colourful as they want to be.”
So let’s shine on, you crazy diamonds!
by Diana Rusu
I’ve been diagnosed with MVP (mitral valve prolapse) two years ago. Statistics show that 2 – 3 % of the population has it. While it can be risk-free, it can also give you cardiac arrest. But “individuals with mitral valve prolapse, particularly those without symptoms, often require no treatment”. I’m going to keep the mild palpitations, anxiety and low blood pressure, I can’t control having them, but what I can do is hold their horses.
Hold my horses, I love this saying. I’ve been an expert in holding horses since early childhood. My parents say I was quiet and submissive every time a nurse came to me with needles and syringes - while my (same age) cousin would literally hide in the closet, I would put my stress in the closet. Well it’s needles to say that neither of us two is 100% mentally healthy today. My little monsters had little babies in the closet, and now they love to release them in the world, every once in a while. They let them out early enough to mess up with my veins and make my blood flow backwards (and made me not want to wear skirts ever again since age 18).
Teenage years were a nightmare in terms of making friends. My palms would regularly get these itchy blisters that would eventually break and cause infinite pain and even more anxiety of not showing my hands to anyone. It was called dyshidrotic eczema and doctors believe that you have a greater chance of developing the condition if you’re experiencing a high level of stress (either physical or emotional). Springtime was always the beginning of a beautiful dyshidrosis and wouldn’t leave me alone until autumn. As I grew up, the condition disappeared completely in my early twenties. Scientists can say all they want about how the exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown, but I know. I mean, it’s the monsters in the closet.
On the other hand, living with a heart condition can be challenging sometimes; it makes you think twice before you start “choking with dry tears and raging, raging, raging at the absolute indifference of nature and the world to the death of love, the death of hope and the death of beauty” (as Stephen Fry says it better than anyone else).
I take this challenge as a marking of a limit: how far should we go, anyway? Sometimes I wish I was Bjork and have limitless emotions, but then I realize I’m just an ordinary, average woman and those conditions are/were my boundaries. Or maybe not, but as long as Mercury is retrograde I feel like hiding myself in a closet until the days get longer and everything is reborn.
by Iulia Gheorghe
If I were to consider the skin as a suit, I would definitely find myself in a shoddy dressing room with three options in front of me: neon-greasy glow on pores like opened grayish scallops boiling in their own juicy juice on a sunny beach, a jawline beaded with pomegranate shaped pimples or the freshness of a bored parsnip abandoned in my grandma’s pantry. Ever since puberty, I have experimented various stages of skin quality and none involved words like rosy, glow, immaculate or zits-free. I have been trapped in a “50 forms of mediocre skin” phase and approaching my thirties, I think I lost the last train to pristine poreland.
"She could have received retirement benefits after dealing for all this time..."
I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar that my skin would get a holy revamp before menopause. My mother’s 40 years of skin problems experience comforts my hypothesis. She could have received retirement benefits after dealing for all this time with grease in summer and spots all time of the year. After trying to solve the unsolvable with a cocktail of lotions, phototherapy and mesotherapy, she accepted that pimples were there to stay, put some make-up on (become addicted to matte-mousse foundations and poreless finish powders) and lived her life.
I stole her acne-dealing philosophy. As Stanford professor Shirzad Chamine advises us in his book Positive Intelligence, I activated my inner Sage mode, freeing myself from resentment (why is my face on fire AGAIN?!) and bitterness (angel faces, go to HELL). I adopted a more or less disciplined skincare ritual, avoided clogging pore ingredients and felt lucky that I have never experienced severe acne, scars, rashes and other painful conditions that garnish the bad skin pandemonium. I didn’t consult dermatologists exclusively to ask for a zits mass-elimination formula, although I was still asking them for cream recommendations at the end of my annual appointments. After a poor-sleep night, bathed in anxious dreams with threatening moles looking like real psychopaths, the check-up usually turns just fine, endorphins flood my brain and I almost don’t care about the destiny of a couple of pimples just visiting. Years passed, and I tried a bunch of ointments (most of them stinky and sticky). Life is short, so the mucilaginous ones found themselves in my recycle bin. Skinoren and retinoid creams worked pretty well. Youcam perfect and a touch of Mac powder (ok, more of a coat than a touch, but not a fur coat, maybe the equivalent of a breezy blazer) were the cherry on the top of my pursuit of a decent skin.
"The experience was half X-files, half Housewives of Beverly Hills"
A couple of weeks ago, the cherry was eaten by a lady in a white gown. I usually deal with internal saboteurs who bring their own biases to the decision parties in my head. This time, it was an external one. As I moved to a new neighborhood, I went to a new dermatologist for my annual check-up. The experience was half X-files, half Housewives of Beverly Hills, as I was trying to figure out if she was either an alien with no feelings or a shallow person that cared only about the so-called unanimous beauty standards. She barely looked at my moles as her frowned eyes bombarded my chin and jaw with a weird expression. "KILL THEM ALL!" She started to cry that I had to treat my acne. Puzzled, I told her that I had been dealing with mild acne since my teenage years and things never got out of control. She insisted that I had to try more. “You can’t live like that, you must fix this”. And then she recommended me laser hair removal because “waxing is bad”.
For a couple of seconds, I felt like Moaning Myrtle. Did she suggest that accepting my blemished skin is not a healthy option? Did she judge me for my passiveness? Moaning Myrtle turned into Hulk as I was filling up with rage. I consulted her to check if I’m cancer free, not to fix my skin by poisoning my body with nasty treatments. It was mild acne. I didn’t ask for her help. This was not a debilitating symptom that made my life unbearable. Maybe my skin was mediocre, but her work ethic was crappier. My inner bitch felt the need to riposte. The researchers from King’s College London discovered that people with acne appeared to be protected against the signs of ageing so I wanted to tell her that maybe if she had had some zits in her adulthood, she wouldn’t have looked like a crepe in her fifties. But I knew that was the wrong reaction: my own brain was sometimes biased by the standards that I was fighting against.
"We are so focused on criticizing the way it looks, that we forget its main functions: skin both protects us and gives us the opportunity to experiment sensations."
Skin quality is biology and stardust is to be found somewhere else. Our skin is a suit of the size of three bath towels. Maybe I wasn’t the big winner of the perfect skin lottery, but my skin is doing a pretty good job. We are so focused on criticizing the way it looks, that we forget its main functions: skin both protects us and gives us the opportunity to experiment sensations. Burnt people are very vulnerable to infections because of the damaged skin tissues. Wrinkled or not, acne-prone or not, it’s thanks to our skin that we can all feel in the same way the touch of our mother one on our cheek. The soft warmth of a ray of light on our forehead. The frosted snowflake on our nose. The tongue of our partner…you get it. I surely did. I found the derma Grail by respecting my skin for what it was: imperfect, but totally functional and generating pleasure and pain 24 hours per day.