Welcome readers, new and old! Please don’t forget to tap the little ❤ above if you’re happy to be here. A festival of lights will brighten all souls far and wide.
I don’t often write about makeup—probably because I don’t often wear it. Actually, since I left O, The Oprah Magazine, and we slid into the vast sinkhole of a pandemic, I’ve developed a “F*ck it all!” attitude toward makeup in general. With the exception of mascara and eyeliner, makeup is basically the last thing on my mind (right before stilettos). But a loyal reader—loyal to foundation, that is—needed help.
“Ask Val” answers your urgent questions, Vol. 42
Q: What are some good foundation options for aging skin? Mine is quite dry and foundation has a tendency to sit in my pores, which makes me feel like I’m wearing a freaking neon sign that says, "I'm getting old!" I’m aiming to even-out my complexion and diminish age spots and other signs of sun damage.
A: First of all, I just threw on a neon sign that says, “Congratulations, winner! You’re getting old!” But I understand why you’d like to diminish the clues suggesting you’ve spent a significant amount of time orbiting our star minus sunscreen and a hat.
You’re right that one of the best—by which I mean easiest and least expensive—ways to have a more even-looking complexion is to wear foundation. Makeup, after all, has always been worn not only for decorative purposes, but also to trick potential partners into believing we’re quality breeding material. Skin clarity, evenness of tone, and a slight blush are all cues of youth and good health, and consequently a good choice of mate (in case you’re interested). I’ve mentioned several studies (like this one and this one) that demonstrate that the facial skin age of women is influenced not only by the appearance of lines and wrinkles, but also by unevenness, discoloration, and a decrease in light reflection (how light bounces off the skin). Researchers have found that both men and women are remarkably sensitive to even small changes in skin color distribution. The happier news: When discoloration is removed, faces are judged to be more attractive. So…
Making its grand entrance down the cosmetics aisle, please put your hands together for: Primer! It seems primer, dear reader, is what may be missing from your makeup routine. How do I know? I asked one of the most widely-known (and loveliest) makeup artists of all time, Pati Dubroff.
“One of the best routes to even tone is to use a blurring or matte primer before applying foundation,” Pati says. “It acts as a barrier to the foundation seeping into pores and fine lines.” And why wouldn’t iconic makeup artist Laura Geller completely agree, as she sells an excellent primer that moisturizes and, like all good primers, ensures that foundation stays put without emphasizing wrinkles. As for choosing a foundation, Pati advises, “For mature skin, I like to use a buildable liquid or creamy formula.” Drier formulas can accentuate any kind of texture on the skin—and not in a good way. Laura, chiming in in case you happen to love a powder, adds that her powder foundation, which starts out as a cream before it’s magically baked into powder form, is more hydrating than pressed powders.
Pati offers a couple of bonus hints for good measure: Avoid a primer promising radiance, as that radiance is likely delivered as sparkle, which…need we say more? And Pati loves a little extra moisture tapped lightly with the fingertips on the cheekbones—no swiping!—on top of foundation.
There you go! By the way, your neon sign is on the fritz. It now seems to say, “I’m g….old!” Yes, yes you are.
👁️ 👁️ How Not to F*ck Up Your Face is a reader-financed publication. To receive all new posts and support my work—have I saved you at least $50 in skincare?—please become a paid subscriber. 👁️ 👁️
HNTFUYF, a Payola-Free Zone
Readers, a few of you have asked if I get a cut from sales when I mention a beauty product. I do not. I only mention products I’d like to buy myself, and therefore think you might like, too. I share this so you know my recommendations are offered without obligation.
Book Club News: A compelling new read!
Though I’ve been a latecomer to audiobooks, once I discovered them I couldn’t get enough. I borrow them from the public library, but as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes the library snatches them back before I can finish. So I'm happy to share I'm partnering with Chirp to organize an audiobook club of biographies and memoirs called “Unfiltered Women.” Two things: It’s free to subscribe and Chirp offers great deals. Plus, you obviously get to keep the book to listen to at your leisure.
Every other month I’ll announce a new book club pick we’ll listen to together. You’ll have a chance to share your thoughts on the book a few weeks later and hear what other readers thought, too. My fourth pick is the devastating Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by writer and commentator Roxane Gay. Her story is one of extremes: of extreme weight; of extreme sexual violence; of other people’s extreme repudiation and contempt. And yet, because her narration is consciously controlled, analytic, and wise, Gay comes across as a person who—in spite of (or because of) her traumas and her position far outside the grid of social norms—is supremely gifted at accomplishing what’s required for her to not only survive, but also to thrive. In that way, her story feels like a triumph.
To get started, go to chirpbooks.com/val and press FOLLOW to join my club. (Again, it’s free and there is NO commitment.) There, for a limited time, you can buy Hunger for only $4.99 (normally $18.99), including a 50% discount with code VAL50 if it's your first Chirp purchase. [Note that I receive payments for books purchased on Chirp.]
Val Asks You
Don’t be shy! What’s your most vexing or intractable appearance issue? Send your beauty-related questions to email@example.com. If I don’t have a good answer, I’ll find someone who does.
Thank you for the links and recommendations for foundations and primers. I usually use a tinted moisturizer -- right now it's Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 20. I like it for my oily skin, and on drier days I layer it over some lightweight moisturizer.
Speaking of not getting a cut of sales, I wouldn't mind if you did if it's something you like and use. I'm out of the loop and I appreciate recommendations. I want the Hermes lotion you linked to a couple posts back. (I love a fragranced lotion instead of a traditional perfume). I told my husband it's 75 dollars and just a little luxury item and he said my entire life is a luxury item. I haven't bought the lotion yet but I loved his comment and I laughed because I do have a luxurious and charmed life. It may not be luxurious in the traditional sense ( I'm a registered nurse with a lower to middle class income) but I'm feeling like gold!
Val, such a good reminder! I used to love the Smashbox primer. To me the greatest benefit is you can use so much less color/foundation -- it makes a little go a long way, you can get really sheer coverage. I'm about to click "buy" on the Gellar one. One marketing note: wish it wasn't called "Spackle." IMO that implies the exact opposite of the light, sheer effect (I'm hoping) it delivers. YOU, Val, are g---old.