It’s been awhile since I last blogged but I was adjusting to married life, decorating our new place, getting to know my new family and so on but that hasn’t stopped me from trying out new makeup products, reviewing the stuff I already had, and jotting down notes in my lil notebook for future blog posts. Now if only I can find the time (read: motivation) to transfer all that to my blog. First of all, I know I’ve been promising to do a giveaway but to be completely honest, I’m not sure how many people actually read my blog. What if I have a giveaway and nobody enters? That would be so embarrassing which is what’s holding me back. I’ve figured out the solution. Leave a comment below if you want me to have a giveaway but if nobody comments, instead of the winner of the giveaway getting the “prize(s)”, I’ll just give them to a family member or friend. Hope that sounds fair.
I’ve decided to start a new series called “My Story”. The point of this series is to make my blog a bit more personal, give you some background info so you guys can understand my thought process when I’m on the hunt for a certain product, and to have a feel for my style. Why? Well, maybe you can relate or you might find it helpful or at the very least you might avoid making the same mistakes I made. Also please feel free to share your story with me. Don’t be afraid to use the comments section.
I debated where to begin my story and finally settled on starting with my skintone. Look at your veins. They say that if they are blue, you are cool toned (like my mom) but if they are green, you are warm toned, (like my dad). If you look good in silver than you are cool toned. If you look better in gold than you are warm toned. People with “cool” undertones look better in cool colors while people with “warm” undertones look better in warm colors. This applies to a lot of people but sadly I’m not one of them. It took me a long time to figure out but I believe I am “neutral”. In comparison to my mom, I’m pretty dark but in comparison to my dad I’m pretty fair. I get called “white” by my friends with darker skin but when I’m with much fairer girls, in comparison I’m ”tanned” or even “brown”. I believe I have an olive complexion because my skin has a greenish tinge. When I wear pinks which are supposed to compliment people with cool undertones, I look off but I also look terrible in golds which are supposed to compliment people with warm undertones.
When I was still in school, a classmate (let’s call her Nancy! Her name has no relevance to the story, just thought I’d share) was selling Avon cosmetics. I was a tween, clueless as ever about makeup but I decided to venture into uncharted waters and purchase a foundation compact nonetheless. Just to be clear, most girls I saw wore foundation a billion times lighter than their actual shade. I thought that’s what foundation had to be, pure white because that was what I saw around me whenever I went out. That was the norm. I know that many people are obsessed with whitening their skin but I wasn’t trying to look lighter or fairer. I just truly truly did not know any better. Nance apparently was as clueless as I was because I chose a stark white shade that clashed horribly with my olive complexion and she happily sold it to me. I like to think that she’s nicer than that, and if she had a clue she would’ve color matched me with a shade much closer to my actual skin color because it seriously looked like I was wearing a white mask. You could totally see the difference in color between my neck and face. There was a clear line of demarcation. I had no clue how awful it looked on me. I was just a kid who had recently become curious about this “thing” called makeup. I wasn’t that interested in makeup yet. I was just “exploring”. I rocked the geisha look (unwittingly) with pride. Afer much use, I eventually lost the foundation compact (Thank God!).
Much, much later I was in Mohallab at Hawally with my mom when we passed by a MAC store. By then I was old enough to wear makeup (14 or 15) so I sorta’ had my mom’s blessings (not really). I picked up yet another foundation compact, with the help of the exotic looking “makeup artist” (ever notice how people that work at MAC are always so pretty?) which also happened to be stark white. Again, I rocked the geisha look but the foundation smelled funky to me. I was not a fan. It had a sickly floral scent to it which alot of people refer to as the old lady/grandma smell (both my maternal and paternal grandmothers always smelled lovely, like oud and bukhoor, like always but ok people, let’s call the sickly floral scent old lady-ish/grandma-like). The smell would not dissipate even after wearing the foundation for long periods of time. Worse yet, I started noticing mico-exfoliation on my skin and had no clue how to make it stop. I wanted a smooth application, not little blobs of foundation that kept pilling on me. I stopped using it altogether so my mom took it off my hands (she’s whiter than snow, so it matched her perfectly). My mom’s skin color was so different from mine so obviously, what worked for her would not work for me. I had an epiphany then and there. Foundation was supposed to match your skin. It dawned on me that foundation did not have to be white. Kuwaitis just preferred their foundations to be white, regardless of their skin’s actual color. I on the otherhand was learning to hate white foundation on myself or any foundation that was lighter than my actual skin color.
Fastforward to a few months later, during an outing with my mom at Marina Mall, she took me to the Lancome counter at Va Va Voom where I got my makeup done professionally by a “makeup artist”. The mystery that is foundation was finally going to be solved! I was going to ask the “artist” to color match me and to teach me how to color match myself in the future. I was super excited! The frumpy looking women at the Lancome counter who calls herself a makeup artist had no clue what she was doing. She applied stark white foundation on me that yet again clashed with my olive complexion. Even to my untrained eye, her work was awful. Needless to say I was sorely dissappointed and did not ask her a single thing.
Lesson learned! Apparently, none of the so called “makeup artists” in Kuwait knew how to apply foundation or any kind of makeup correctly. They just wanted to sell their products because they get payed on commission (the more they sold, the higher the amount they got payed). It didn’t matter to them if the product did not match your skin or look good on you. Add to that, the fact that we have a no returns policy which is awful because the Sales Assistants can get away with pushing awful products on you but you can not return them after buying the products, taking them home, actually using them, and realizing they don’t match you or work for you. Worst of all, no samples unless you buy the product which defeats the whole point of samples, and even then, if you do buy the product, notice how the foundation samples they give you are always the lightest shade (001, ivory, etc…) because Kuwaiti people who live in a desert country mind you, are known for being super pale, right? Even the fairest of fair, eventually go up a shade or two after being exposed to the sun here. That’s why I get so annoyed by pushy/aggressive sales assistants (I’ll teach you a super effective trick on dealing with them in a future blog post). I know that they just wanna sell the product and worse yet, most of the time, they don’t even know what they are selling. Seriously, the next time you are out shopping for makeup, ask the Sales Assistant (S.A.) a really specific question about the product and whatch him/her fumble because they don’t know the answer or worse watch them straight up lie to your face just to sell. End Rant.
Side Note: If you work as a sales assistant at any cosmetics counter/store in Kuwait and I have offended you; great.
A couple of months later at Marina Mall (This was before The Avenues had opened up), I was going to the cinema or movies, whatever you wanna call it, with a friend. I stopped by The Body Shop and randomly chose a liquid foundation that was a dark salmon shade. It was darker than my skin but it wasn’t orange or brown. I applied it with my fingers. At first, I looked funny, but after applying mascara, it made me look like when I first get back from summer vacation, all tanned and glowy. Until then, I was not aware that weeks of sun worshipping could be faked with makeup. I really loved it and the more I used it, the more I realized so did everyone else. I got compliments from everyone, friends and family (even my brothers who never comment were like “You look nice.”). When I dyed my hair blonde, the foundation looked even more flattering on me. So I realized that I actually adore liquid foundation as opposed to the creamy foundation compacts I had used before. I loved the coverage it gave (dewy finish) and the way it applied (no pilling, yay!) and I also realized that I preferred my foundation to be darker than my actual skin color as opposed to lighter. To this day, if my shade isn’t available, I’d rather err on the side of a darker shade as opposed to a lighter shade of foundation. Even though I only wore foundation during the evenings and even then only on “special occasion” like Eid or whathaveyou, eventually it ran out. I had thrown out the bottle (big mistake) and went back to The Body Shop to get more but it was discontinued and since I didn’t have the bottle, I could’t find something similar.
I stopped wearing foundation for years and years and years and years and years (quite frankly what with college and all, makeup was an extra step I just couldn’t afford to take time out for) but tinted moisturizers intrigued me so when good ol’ Aramex made online shopping possible (I believe around 2006 or 2007, I know I’m dating myself but I was a college student at the time) I got my hands on Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer spf 20 in the shade Almond (because the swatches on the website made it look like it was the lightest out of the darker shades if that makes any sense, and it had a pretty name). I loved that it wasn’t heavy coverage meaning my skin still looked like skin and wasn’t cake-y (like those awful compacts), and it didn’t smell funky (again like those awful compacts), and best of all it oxidized into the same shade as my beloved discontinued Body Shop foundation. I could wear it during the day and not feel like it was too much but it was also nice enough for the evening, I decided that this was Holy Grail status! It became a staple in my makeup bag.
Even though mineral makeup had been around for awhile, it really started trending around 2009, so far as much that almost every brand was coming out with their own line of “mineral” makeup. I really wanted to get a foundation from Bare Minerals but we didn’t have them in Kuwait yet and I didn’t wanna get a shade that didn’t match me, and the idea of loose powder seemed messy so I settled for a 4 piece Mineral (Mineral Power) Set by Maybelline which came with Powder Foundation, Translucent Powder, Concealer, and an adorable little kabuki brush to apply the powders. I believe I chose the shade medium. I was right, loose powders really were messy so you needed extra time to carefully apply them, and I did not have extra time so that was a bust. Also, everything was too light for me. It wasn’t that bad though because Maybelline is a drugstore brand (In Kuwait, you can find them at the drugstore/pharmacy, makeup department at your local co-op, and sometimes event at Sultan Center) so it wasn’t exactly expensive, plus I had ordered some other things as well and they turned out to be great.
I also found a different type of foundation that wasn’t cream or liquid or loose powder. It had a mousse texture and it was also by Maybelline. I picked up the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation in the shades Pure Beige #2 and Medium Beige #3. I looked for darker shades but couldn’t find any which seemed to be my problem with most foundations in Kuwait at the time. We did not get any dark shades in Kuwait. All we had were light to medium shades because whoever was choosing the shades just assumed that everyone wanted to be lighter. Obviously not all of us were lily-white but that wasn’t taken into account. So I resorted to ordering drugstore foundations online, and since I couldn’t test them on my neck to see if they matched me, I bought them based solely on their names and swatches from what few beauty blogs were around at the time. Due to my complex of looking lighter, I always chose shades that were on the darker end of the spectrum with pretty names like Honey because if I ever got stuck with a product I did not like, there was no returning it. With online shopping, it was much more of a hassle to ship a product you don’t want back. There was a whole process and it might or might not make it (usually not) back to them. On the otherhand, if you chose to ship it via FedEx, DHL, or Aramex, they charge you more than the actual product is worth. Allow me to explain. Let’s say for example, I ordered a $9 Liquid Foundation and it turned out to be the wrong shade. Now 9 dollars converted to Kuwaiti Dinars comes up to about KD 3 so I call up Aramex and they tell me it costs upwards of KD15 to ship it back to where I got it from. Obviously, I opt out of shipping it back and instead give it away to my sis. #kuwaitigirlproblems
Along with Hi Def Television came HD cosmetics. I love anything gimmicky so I decided to get the (at the time, new to the shores of Kuwait) HD foundation from Make Up For Ever from Sephora at the Avenues. I thought it would be a good substitute for my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer since apparently I prefer light coverage and Laura Mercier isn’t readily available for sale in Kuwait. Again, the Sales Assistant was clueless and matched me with a shade much too light for me. Again, I was suspicious and chose a shade much darker. Back home, I tried it on and it looked horrible on me. Just my luck, now we were getting foundations that took undertones into consideration (cool/pink versus warm/yellow). Even drugstore brands were focusing on undertones like the Maybelline Fit Me Line. Even though the MUFE HD Foundation was a dark foundation, its undertones clashed with mine. What I thought were salmon undertones (which were flattering on me) were actually pinky gray undertones (which made me look ashy). Just because it was darker, didn’t mean it would suit me and it truly didn’t. The shade I bought in the Make Up For Ever High Definition Foundation was #155. Nothing a little color correcting wouldn’t fix but it was an extra step I didn’t want to have to take.
For work related reasons, I got to go to Germany (rockin’ a tan). I was at a MAC counter at Douglas (German version of Sephora I guess?) and got a Sales Assistant to color match me. She handed me foundation in the shade NC40. I had developed a complex towards makeup artists and cosmetics sales assistants because of the way they behaved in Kuwait so I thought she just wanted to make money, without actually caring if it matched me or not so I asked for NC46 which was much much much darker. The sales assistant was so beautiful (I said it before, and I’ll say it again, the people that work at MAC are gorgeous!) that I still remember how she furrowed her brows in confusion and gave me an almost sad look. “It’s too dark for you”, she insisted. After much back and forth, we settled on NC42. The concept of a sales assistant that actually cared, was actually helpful, and didn’t wanna just push products on me for her own personal gain was foreign to me. I was touched. Now that I’m older, I realized that her behavior was normal. People behaved like that, all over the world. They took pride in their jobs. They had a good work ethic. Most importantly, they had a conscience. Kuwait was the exception. For some reason, I never wore that foundation out. Not even once. I just got so in the habit of not wearing foundation, ever, that I just skipped it. Back in Kuwait, I tried it on one day, on a whim and saw that it was much too dark for me. I never got a MAC foundation again but if I had to guess, I’d say I’m an NC37 normally (for some reason, NC37 is not readily available in the permanent line) and NC40 with a hardcore tan. If you are not familiar with MAC’s terminology (because finding a shade that matches you is not complex enough, MAC manages to make it even more complex) NC stants for Not Cool and NW stands for Not Warm so if you have cool undertones, go for NW and if you have warm undertones go for NC.
In 2010 I believe, when I was visiting the UAE and doing the whole touristy thing with the family, after a particularly scary Burj Khalifa tour (I hate heights so that was not fun for me) I was roaming around The Dubai Mall when I noticed a Missha store. I adore asian cosmetics (ever since I was a teenager, I’ve absolutely adored asian cosmetics and skincare, but more on that in another blog post) so among the things I got was the Missha BB Cream Vita SPF 20. I loved it and wanted to get another, as well as some other stuff, but because the Missha store is kind of tricky to find (not really, to the left of the escalator, across The Body Shop, if memory serves me correctly), my friends and family sorta’ have a “hard time finding it”. Prior to that trip, I’d only ever purchased Japanese cosmetics and even then, none of those were BB Creams because the shades are usually too light for me so I was super happy with my purchase. It applied and wore like a dream! I also picked up a Revlon PhotoReady Foundation (I know we have it in Kuwait, but my shade is not available, I checked) from Boots at Mall of Emirates but haven’t opened it yet because I don’t wanna end up with a lot of opened foundations. So I’m trying to finish up the ones I have first.
Back in Kuwait, I went to Mishref Fair Grounds for the Beauty Expo (which takes place twice a year at the last week of March, and last week of November) only to find out that I had missed it… by weeks. So I decided to go to Mishref’s Co-op and check out the beauty department on the second floor, as a consolation prize. I wanted to get another MUFE HD Foundation, maybe something I could mix with my older one (so I could actually use it up) to get the perfect shade that matched me but the S.A. was obnoxious and kept trying to sell me things I wasn’t interested in, so I went up to the Lancome counter which was directly across, and purchased the Teint Idole Ultra Foundation spf 10 in the shade #4 with the help of the Lancome S.A. (I went a shade darker than she suggested) and was happy with my purchase. It was KD 17/000 and worth every fils. I liked the coverage in winter. I didn’t like the smell though which was a cloying sickly floral scent, (ok fine, granny perfume smell, happy?) That said, the scent did dissipate after a short while. I loved this so much, I wore it on my wedding day (yes, even though it does have spf)! It’s still almost full though because like I said, I prefer to wear foundation on special occasions as opposed to everyday. What can I say? I’m not a foundation girl, regardless of my story.
What about you? What’s your foundation story? What foundations have you tried? What’s your favorite foundation? Do you prefer light coverage or medium to heavy coverage? Do you have trouble finding a foundation that matches you too? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Remember, if you want me to start having giveaways, please mention that as well.