In Defense of Beauty
This sounds like a dramatic title for a blog post where I'm merely demonstrating the colors of my little shimmer balms, I know.
But this is how my mind works. Lately, especially.
I've been trying to make sense of what it is that I do.
Why do I make makeup if I also tell myself that I don't care about being seen as beautiful? Why, out of all of the ways there are to make an impact in the world, did I set out on this path seven years ago?
Because that's why you start (and keep) a small business, by the way. It comes from a desire to live life by my standards of integrity and make the things that I want to see in the world. I want to make good things, and I also want to make a positive impact. No matter how much I bemoan the number of selfies I take and cringe at the amount of oversharing I do here, I've created this... entity... this store full of beautiful, comforting, luxurious products (honestly though I hate to even refer to them as products because they are so much more than that to me - products sounds so bland and impersonal and conformist, and these are like... I don't know, pieces of my soul that I put out into the world?) and now I have a responsibility to share them with people out in the world who will also find them useful and healing.
And they have been healing to me, in ways I'm not sure I can put into words yet. It's more symbolic than physical, although I can't deny that I love what they've done for my skin. For me, all of these... things I've made symbolize my ability to help myself. To care for me. To support me and give me what I need to be happy and healthy. I turn to them for comfort, for joy, to feel grounded and connected to nature, something so much bigger than myself... and they've proven that I can make big things happen, albeit through a lot of teeny tiny things. But, this business and these products are proof that I can save myself. That I have the power to create something beautiful and real and helpful for others too.
There are two sides to my business that I'm forever straddling and trying to tend to - there's the ultra-practical side - like, figuring out skincare - what's the most affordable, most sustainable, most minimal, most effective way to care for your skin and body? What ingredients will solve which issue? Who needs what from me, and by when? How fancy can I make my deodorant without scaring away all of my customers who are on a budget or think that rose is only for grannies? This line of thinking is separate from the practical day-to-day tasks of running a small business singlehandedly, although the two practicalities are certainly related. But this practical side is the side that quickly leads to burnout for me. Trying to please everyone and answer all of the questions, helping you make the best, most practical purchasing decisions, explaining how to use the darn stuff... and, figuring out how to reach people!
Because social media marketing simply isn't working. Not only is it ineffective, but it feels like an ethical, moral dilemma for me, which kind of stinks when you start a business because you want to earn a living by your own standards of integrity. No matter how you justify your social media use, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of problems with how these apps have attempted to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, playing into our deepest fears and desires (acceptance, connection,) and using addictive psychological tricks to keep us scrolling and consuming (content, products,) non-stop. There was a point around the beginning of 2020 when I realized... hey, wait a minute... I didn't start this business to make a profit for Meta. Is this approach actually working for my business, or is it mostly just working to serve them? They've proven time and again that they have zero regard for our mental health, nor for the health of our democracy, or in the case of 2020 related things - our actual physical health! So I pulled back personally and I've been working to find my balance business-wise ever since, with mixed results.
Here's how I look at it today: I have a responsibility to direct you to this website or into my store so that I can share everything I have to share with you, but I'm not a content creator. I'm a physical goods creator. To stay in business and keep making good things, I have to get you to come here, spend some time looking around, and take the plunge - buy the things. I can't spend my time creating an endless stream of free content for you to briefly consume on your way to consuming something else. I get that we all want to know the person behind the products, but the person behind these products is simply not interested in playing Meta's insidious little games. There are other ways to get to know me. Hence my Patreon, these blogs, and having a physical retail store where I sit and wait for people to come in 25 hours a week.
I spend A LOT of time dealing with all of these practicalities and trying my best to make this business work, make the right products to serve the most people, and still feel good about my choices on a moral and ethical level...
And then, there's the beauty side.
PHEW. I think we thoughtful types get so wrapped up in making the best, least harmful, most practical decisions that we forget to allow ourselves to embrace the indulgent, sensual aspects of life. This is unfortunate because creating beautiful things is what truly excites me about my work! Whether making it or wearing it, it brings me so much joy to revel in the sheer beauty of it all. And, I know it sounds frivolous. It's a hard thing to even allow myself to admit because I want to be someone who helps dismantle patriarchal beauty standards. So don't misunderstand me - by defending and embracing beauty, I don't mean consumer beauty culture, which implies that we must conform to societal standards and pressure everyone to look a certain way. I mean... simply embracing all beauty, in all of its forms. I think we humans have a deep-seated desire to align ourselves with beauty and to adorn ourselves, even if we get in our heads and convince ourselves that it doesn't matter and that we must be the most practical and efficient little eco-friendly ethical consumers. I even said in a recent blog post - that I don't want to be seen as beautiful! But that's not true. Of course, I want to be beautiful. What I don't want to be is objectified. I don't want to be only beautiful. I also want to retain the right to be imperfect. I want to be seen and appreciated and cherished for all of my humanity - the beauty and the flaws.
The beauty side of my work is not practical at all. It's emotional. It's all of the feelings. Pleasure. Comfort. Joy. Wonderment. It's aspirational and creative play - who do I want to be today? How do I want to feel? What kind of fragrance will match my energy or be the most soothing? How can I comfort myself when life feels stressful and hard? Or, how visible and striking do I want to be? How much attention can I handle? These feeling-based things aren't things you can think your way into or out of - which is why you have to try samples on and see how they make you feel. You can't analyze the beauty side of the "products" in this little shop to death. I mean, you can, but you'll probably end up not buying anything, which I see often! It's one of the reasons I've pulled back on answering all of the questions. I can't tell you which perfume feels like home. I can't know what your goals are with your approach to adorning yourself. I can't feel those things for you. I can only feel them for myself, and then share what I feel with you.
And you know how I'm feeling today? I'm feeling like I very much enjoy having sparkly, ethereal skin that doesn't exactly occur naturally without a little help from filter balm and highlight shimmer powder. I like having juicy red lips made from only the finest sustainable natural materials. I like playing with colors and textures and observing how different choices make me look and feel. It makes me feel like a fairytale princess, and I need to feel that way, often, because otherwise, life starts to feel very dull and heavy. I mean, look at this mess we're in. I need to be uplifted, not weighed down. I want to be beautiful and happy and healthy and have fun (even if in little ways,) every single day, and I want that for you too.
So, take this as your sign to lean into the beauty side of whatever brought you here today. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Don't over-consume*, but also don't overthink it! Buy good things that support small businesses and also make you feel like a fairytale princess, or, a goblin in the woods who's been rolling around in the dirt, or, however, you want to feel because I can't know that for you. I can only show you my silly little $12 balms.
Here are a few examples - all taken for Instagram, which only about 1.5% of my followers see on any given day. Hence the reposting on this blog. :)
Products are all linked at the bottom of this post.
Simple and neutral!
I don't know if I need to say this every time, but in case you're just tuning in, I start every makeup look with filter balm and setting powder. Then, I contour around my hairline and under my cheekbones with ginger snap shimmer balm (that's a limited edition holiday color!) and usually highlight my upper cheeks, down the bridge of my nose, and in the inner corners of my eyes with highlight shimmer balm. So even if I don't say this, you can assume that this basic look is what I've done in addition to (underneath) the other products I list.
Brows/mascara/eyeliner: cocoa eye tint
Eye shadow: highlight shimmer powder applied all over the lid, with sandstone shimmer powder applied on the lower lid
Cheeks and lips: mother of pearl shimmer balm
Brows: cocoa eye tint
Mascara and eyeliner: bronze eye tint
Cheeks: mother of pearl shimmer powder and balm
Lips: ruby shimmer balm
I don't always go for full-on ruby lips, but when I do it's usually because I didn't make much of an effort elsewhere...
Brows and mascara: cocoa eye tint
Cheeks: mother of pearl and ruby shimmer balms
Eye shadow and liner: ruby shimmer balm
Lips: mother of pearl shimmer balm
Ok! I was messing around (slash running too late to do my makeup at home) at work here and took a little spongy tester brush to my tube of ruby shimmer balm to apply to my eyes. I love the result - a warm and subtle pop of color. So easy. If I wanted to make a bigger reddish impact I would have layered this with fire opal shimmer powder, but this soft color wash effect was all I needed for a Saturday morning in the shop.
The shimmer balms tend to crease in my hooded lids, so I had to blend it a few times throughout the day with my pinky finger. If I wanted to wear this out for the night I'd definitely set it with a tonal shimmer powder - fire opal, or rose quartz would be pretty. Ooh, no - pink tourmaline!
Brows/mascara/liner: cocoa eye tint
Cheeks: mother of-pearl shimmer balm
Eye shadow: highlight shimmer powder all over the lid, sandstone shimmer powder on the lower lid
Lips: garnet shimmer balm
Hey, remember last time when I was like, "I should wear garnet more often!" Well, I am. :)
Brows: cocoa eye tint
Mascara and eyeliner: bronze eye tint
Eye shadow: bronze eye tint and bronze shimmer powder
Cheeks: fire opal shimmer balm
Lips: sandstone shimmer balm
I made a little reel for this one! This is a good example of the multitasking capabilities of eye tint. I used my pinky finger to blend it on my lower lid, then used my fingers again to set that with a little bronze shimmer powder. I love this look because it's like a very soft and light, wearable version of a smoky eye. If you're nervous about trying eye tint as a mascara, start with bronze. It's soooooooooooooooooooo easy. Plus, it'll bring out the green in your eyes. ;) I've also layered this with rose quartz, citrine, ginger snap, and jade (discontinued) shimmer powders. One of my favorite eye looks!
And that's all I've got today! I thought that breaking these makeup shares up into smaller posts might be helpful, but then I went and wrote a 1,600-word essay on top of it... I just can't help myself!
If you have questions about my makeup application, you're welcome to ask on the respective product pages, join my Patreon for the weekly Q&A sesh, or keep an eye on my Instagram stories - I'm trying to take questions there monthly.
Thanks for stopping by,
*Pendulums swing and content creators gotta keep churning out the clickbait, so you're about to be inundated with messaging about de-influencing and how evil beauty brands are trying to upsell you and send you spiraling into debt - which will come from the same entities who encouraged you to "treat yourself" into debt a couple of years ago, because, wellness. (Like this example I found yesterday, posted right next to an affiliate article for a product they're referring to as "Botox in a bottle" that's finally back in stock because THAT MAKES SENSE. Way to have standards!) My advice remains the same, as always. Block out the noise. Take breaks from social media. Buy what feels good to you. Buy from brands that you want to support. Buy the things you want to see in the world. Don't buy junk. You know the difference, otherwise, you wouldn't be here reading this. And, good luck out there on the *INTERNET*! ❤️