If there’s a bandwagon, I want to be on it. When I saw people posting face mask selfies on Instagram, for instance, it took me as long as it took me to get to the beauty section of CVS to post one myself (on which my mom commented: “I need a scary button to hit!” furthering her efforts to ruin my personal brand). Anyway, I ended up having an allergic reaction to the mask, which pretty much sums up my paradoxical relationship with beauty.
Today, I still have no idea how to do winged eyeliner even though I fall asleep to beauty tutorials on YouTube every night. I have been mocked for keeping an Excel spreadsheet of my skincare products, yet I fear the three bottles of retinol I own. I’ve managed to become a VIB Rouge member, but that’s mostly because I don’t know how to say no to the beautiful people who work at Sephora. And yet I keep going back to the beauty counter, figuratively and literally. Below, a recounting of some of my most memorable failures.
Crest Whitestrips, age 21
In college, I used my friend’s Costco card to purchase a month’s worth of Crest Whitestrips because I love buying in bulk and there’s no better place to do that than Costco. (“Buy bulk underwear at Costco” is one of my life mottos.) One night, in an effort to further procrastinate while writing a 20-page paper due the next day, I decided to give them a go. Unfortunately, I fell asleep at my desk while writing the paper and awoke three hours later with the whitening strips still on. In the days after, eating, drinking and breathing hurt considerably. I have no idea what is actually in a Crest Whitestrip, but I do know Crest is not messing around when they tell you to wear them for a limited amount of time! Suffice it to say, I haven’t touched them since. (But haven’t thrown them out, either.)
Crimper, Probably Conair, age 12
I have naturally curly hair that I have been rebelling against since I was old enough to do so. In middle school, I begged my mom for a straightener. When I finally got one, I would straighten just my bangs and leave the rest of my hair curly. It was a look! Soon after, my best friend Kaitlin got a crimper and everything changed. I realized I didn’t want curly hair, I didn’t want straight hair, I wanted crimped hair, and Conair was willing to give it to me. My collection of hot tools expanded and crimping became my #1 daily ritual. That is, until one day when I held on a little too long and a chunk of hair came off my head in the process.
Vitamin C Serum, age 26
There’s this British aesthetician named Caroline Hirons whose blog I follow religiously. In a post titled “When Instagram gives you the rage,” she called using a Vitamin C serum a “no-brainer” for anti-aging, and I started screaming silently to myself because I was not, in fact, using a Vitamin C serum. I immediately went out and bought one of the most expensive Vitamin C serums I could find while playing that fun game of “how long will I be eating ramen for this product?” Anyway, I brought it home to my all-white bedroom and proceeded to spill the entire bottle all over my white desk during my first use. My desk still looks orange and I still look my age.
At-Home Waxing, age 20
I have been vacillating between splurging and cutting back on luxury items for the entirety of my short life. I was going through a cutting back phase when I decided to cut off contact with for my waxing technician, Cecilia, for whom I foster a slow-burning love, and purchase an at-home waxing kit from CVS. In a way that was almost insulting to everything Cecilia has taught me, I peeled the wax off my soft parts as slowly as possible. This did not get the job done in any small way. I now call the packet my “at-home bruising kit” and let’s just say Cecilia and I are texting again.
Dating in Kylie Lip Kits, age 26
I prefer my lipsticks to resemble crayons in both color and texture. Though I am not getting paid to say this, I would like to be, and the Kylie Lip Kits are like crayons in the best way. I have actually hurt myself in an attempt to get the lipstick off my face, which I completely consider a plus. But, no matter how much I love the stuff, I have noticed it has begun to clash with my dating lifestyle, a lifestyle which I would categorize as “aggressive” for reasons I will not disclose here. I recently went on a date with a boy who kissed me and afterwards we couldn’t get the lipstick off his face. It was a moment I considered “cute” until I never heard from him again.
Homemade Face Masks, age 24
At my old job, I spent the majority of my time around the water cooler. My boss loved it! At said water cooler, I heard some of my old co-workers say they were starting to make their own at-home face masks. Obviously I was like, “In what way can I be included in this?” Being included in things is my passion. So my co-workers sent me home with grocery lists and recipes, and I started with a honey mask for my face and a coconut oil mask for my hair. They did not include a disclaimer that I would have to shower over five times to get the coconut oil and honey off my body, something I’m still not sure I’ve achieved today.
Dry Brushing, age 26
I started dry brushing after reading a single tweet about it and doing absolutely zero other research. Without getting too graphic, I will let you know that I broke out in a rash after dry brushing with some coconut oil I was sick of cooking with. I sent my doctor a series of photos to which she responded: “First of all, those with anxiety should not Google.” She also told me to stop dry brushing.
And because I never learn the lessons life tries to teach me, I just bought an at-home acid peel. Bring on the burn!
Collages by Louisiana Mei Gelpi