When it comes to skin, makeup goes a long way to give the illusion of a flawless and poreless complexion. That is why when it comes to discovering new brands at beauty mecca Sephora, I bypass the female assistants, and seek out their first male counterpart immediately.
The male experts working in this hub of lotions and potions are a wealth of untapped knowledge. Each time, I’m bowled over by their stunning skin which looks naturally airbrushed in the flesh. When one of them tells me he’s “like, obsessed” with an up-and coming-skin care brand, before I know it, I’m at the till swiping my beauty rewards card and leaving with half of the store.
See, Americans in general don’t use makeup like the Irish do. The vast majority of cailíní that I know love to trowel it on. When it comes to contouring, lashes, highlighter and lip enhancing glosses… We simply can’t get enough. An American guy once told me that he could always tell an Irish girl from a mile away….she’s the one with her eyebrows and cheek bones drawn on. God love us.
Perhaps the influence stems from Hollywood stars, who are rarely seen without being extensively made up by the industry’s most talented makeup gurus. Likewise, in television, popular culture, music videos and magazines it’s a strange occurrence to see a woman with an understated and natural look.
Growing up in Ireland, it was a rite of passage during the early noughties to wear glitter eyeshadow, obnoxious shades of blusher and a swipe or two of coloured mascara. Looking back at photos of our tweeny-bopper selves is often embarrassing and cringe inducing. However, at least we still had an air of innocence and naivety about ourselves .. When I look at my 18-year-old sister’s peer group, there is an increasing pressure to conform to the contoured, lip plumped, and doe-lashed aesthetic endorsed by the Instagram famous and reality starlets that seem to dominate popular media these days.
This is one real difference I’ve noticed since moving from Dublin to New York. For the most part, here we have a population of women who turn their back on convention and wear very little to no makeup. Ironically, most of them look more stylish and put together than if they had spent hours painting their face before they left the house.
Inspired, I’ve decided to follow their lead and focus more on skincare and skin enhancing products. As my room mate Ailbhe recently put it, it’s only healthy to get used to looking at your bare face and accepting what you really look like.
After picking the brains of several of Sephora’s male experts, I’ve discovered some niche brands that really deliver. Here are some of my favourite bathroom cabinet staples as of late.
Eve Lom – Morning Time Cleanser ($60)
Dr Dennis Gross – Two-In-One Cleanser and Toner ($30)
Sephora Sheet Masks (starting at $4)
Murad – Hydro Dynamic Quenching Essence ($78)
Clinique – Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream ($26)
(I think my friends all discovered this when they were 14 so I’m only a decade late to the fan club.)
Origins – Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask ($25)
Rosebud Perfume Co – Rosebud Salve In A Tube ($6)
And because I’m not quite ready to go fully bare just yet….
Becca – Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal ($41)
Laura Mercier – Radiance Foundation Primer ($34)
Smashbox – Photo Finish Primer Water ($32)