All posts by feministlipstique

Liberal Foundation Part 2: Changes

Being a discussion of your goals and your psyche.

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.”

— Charlotte Perkin Gilman

Hello and welcome to The Feminist Lipstique. I’m your hostess; today you can call me Bad Girl’s Club Perkins Gilman. I’m a feminist in my early 30s who recently became obsessed with makeup, and is struggling to manage my expectations, my self-esteem, and my desires all at the same time.

Before you really get started on a makeup journey, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. What are you willing to change to get it/what will change as you are getting it?
  3. Can you actually achieve what you want, and what will happen as a result of your achievement?

In translation, what do you want the makeup to do, what are you willing to change about your lifestyle or your habits to accomplish it/what might be a side effect of your efforts, and is it actually sustainable or even accomplishable? And the further question is, if you can accomplish it– is that actually a good thing?

I started doing more with makeup because I wanted to have a creative outlet that didn’t involve writing (so within six months I started a makeup blog, obvi), because I wanted to start spending more time on myself, and because I wanted to change my relationship with my body. Those were my “wants.”

The things that you might end up changing to accomplish your goals might be related to your appearance– are you going to start waxing your brows? Do you want to do full-coverage makeup or partial-coverage makeup? Are you going to stick to a certain color scheme?

The things you wind up changing can also be more abstract. It could be your budget– makeup, even affordable makeup, is not a very budget-friendly hobby. It could be your daily routine (are you willing to do touch ups at lunchtime?), or even just how you arrange your bathroom.

The biggest thing I had to be willing to change when I started doing makeup was my schedule. When I’m not wearing makeup, or only wearing lipstick, I can go from dead asleep to in my car and driving off in 15 minutes. 30, if I’m eating breakfast first. I’m basically nocturnal and prone to insomnia, so mornings are a fight against time to drag as much sleep into my body as possible whilst still getting where I need to go and resembling a competent human person.

On days I’m doing skincare and a lot of makeup, it can take me upwards of an hour and a half. And while that time will probably go down a bit as I get better at my routine, that large span of time is also somewhat on purpose.

The phrase “self-care” gets bandied around a lot, and capitalist “fempowertizing” (“feminist” advertising) aimed at white, moderately wealthy women has taken that phrase and run with it, defining it as things that take money and luxuriant pampering: spa days, massages, scented candles, bubble baths, expensive athleisurewear, meditation retreats.

I hate most of those things.

Meditation is just a time for me to think about all the other things I should be doing. Bubble baths make me increasingly tense the longer I trap myself in them. I hate having other people touch my back. None of these things make me more relaxed.

I define self-care as “taking a goddamn minute for yourself.” And because my brain is broken, both in the “I need pharmaceutical forms of serotonin” sense and the “brainwashed by a cultural emphasis on productivity” sense, I find that really, really difficult.

I am constantly multitasking. I am usually simultaneously writing, messaging people, and listening or watching something. I listen to non-fiction podcasts and audiobooks while I’m driving so that I’m learning something in all of my small snippets of free time. (Yes, I am THAT person. Don’t worry, I also find myself insufferable.) I’ll walk my dog and plot out things like this very blog post at the same time, which only occasionally results in me falling on my face. When I tried creative outlet hobbies like sewing, knitting, and coloring, I did really horribly at them, because I couldn’t stop multitasking while working at them. They were Not Relaxing At All. And things that ARE relaxing in some ways, like video games or reading, become less relaxing because I’m constantly thinking of the multitasking things that I am unable to work on because my hands are full. (Or I choose depressing video games to play and books to read, and I end up more depressed than I start.)

But I’ve found that when I’m working on makeup, my brain goes a little bit… quiet. I actually manage to focus on just the task at hand. (I dare you to try to do eyeliner and think about ANYTHING else at the same time. It is impossible.) It takes enough energy and brain power that I feel engaged, and it checks the little “must be productive in some way” box in my brain. I don’t worry as much about what other, better thing I could be doing with my time the way I do when I’m trying to meditate or take a bubble bath. It is a moment that is meant just for me. So far it has been sustainable– I’m not taking that hour and a half every single day, but I’m willing to do it at least a couple days a week. It has been refreshing to my creative spirit, and forced me to take some time just for me, not for “productivity.”

The part of makeup that has been a lot more complicated for me is the way that makeup gets me to engage with my body, and the way that my expectations, my skills, and reality come into conflict.

Between a myriad of health problems and my weight, my relationship to my body has always been fairly adversarial. It often seemed like an albatross that I was made to carry for some past sin I couldn’t remember committing. It was reduced to being the necessary conveyance method for my mind (which I liked much, much more than my body). It was also a betrayer, foiling me at multiple points.

Makeup has helped me a lot in terms of thinking of my body more kindly. I am doing skincare, and thinking about how my body deserves to have soft skin. I apply lipstick, and think about the pleasing slide of my lips as I rub them together. I put on mascara, and admire the sparkle of my eyes. Even if my body is only the somewhat faulty transportation method for my mind, it is deserving of good treatment, and of appreciation.

But makeup has also made me more self conscious about things that I was previously fine with. As I discussed in the skincare post, I had literally never given thought to the wrinkles and lines underneath my eyes. I had no need to be self conscious about it, or (as I sometimes am now) mad at my body for yet another betrayal, at something being ruined before I could even recognize its previous superior state. I also never gave much thought to the layer of peach fuzz I had on my cheeks– it was fine hair and very light, so what did it matter? Well when you’re putting on foundation and setting powder, it mattes a LOT. Suddenly you have a face full of fine hairs covered in product and Messing Up Your Look. So now I have to address questions about what to do about the things that I am unhappy with. I’m trying to address the skin around my eyes with skincare, but what if that’s not enough? Am I going to start considering more drastic methods, like fillers? I hope not (I’ll probably talk later about my Complicated Feminist Feelings about cosmetic surgery, but for now suffice to know that I just don’t like needles near my eyes). I found a small razor that works well to get the peach fuzz off of my face, but is that something I want to keep doing forever? It grows back. Will I someday want electrolysis to get the hairs off permanently? Or is there a way for me to find a compromise with myself and my newfound flaws?

And that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how I expect makeup to work and how it actually works.

I think, among the many reasons I thought that I wasn’t good at makeup for a very long time was that I would put it on, and I wouldn’t look transformed. Wasn’t makeup supposed to transform you? Wasn’t it supposed to erase my flaws, enhance whatever dregs of natural beauty I possessed? Wasn’t it an alchemical exchange, where I used time, money, and chemicals on my body and in exchange my appearance to become fantastic? Wasn’t makeup supposed to make me better? Wasn’t it supposed to make my body better? On television, on YouTube, makeup was a magical substance that left faces as flawless canvases. I felt like a badly done velvet painting.

I’m now at least at the level of “well-done velvet painting.” Or maybe even “knockoff Dogs Playing Poker.” After gaining some makeup skills, I can now tell the difference between me with makeup and me without makeup, but it is not entirely to the better.

I make a deal with myself. Every week, I try to have a couple of days where I have a full face of makeup, a couple days where I just wear lipstick and maybe eyeliner or mascara, and a couple days where I don’t wear any makeup. I do this for some practical reasons and some psychological ones. I don’t want to be washing an entire jar of makeup brushes every week (or alternatively, get lazy and not wash my brushes as often as I need to). I also don’t want my new stress relief hobby to turn into a chore, and I want to give my skin some time in the air and sun (or at least the air). But most importantly, I don’t want to stop remembering, or stop liking, what my face looks like.

I went ten years without wearing any makeup regularly, and another five without wearing much more than lipstick. And while, as I discussed earlier, I was not particularly enamored of my face, I at least didn’t completely detest it. I never thought I looked shockingly bad, and I never quailed at the thought of going outside without makeup. I never thought I looked so drastic I’d end up in one of those “stars without their makeup”-style articles.

But I’ve noticed that if I wear makeup too many days in a row, my regular face starts to seem… dull. Splotchy. Pale. Needing to be improved upon. I start to get edgy if I don’t get to throw on at least a lipstick before I leave the house. And after days of full makeup, I notice all of the little sins that makeup could help me cover up. I started doing makeup as stress relief. I don’t want it to start causing more stress.

The hardest thing for me to reconcile with makeup is how it sometimes makes me love my body more, and how it sometimes makes me hate my body more. How it sometimes makes me less self conscious (my newest mental response to the thought, “Everyone is going to laugh at you,” is to metaphorically shrug and respond, “Yeah, probably. But I like what I did.”) and more self conscious (can EVERYONE see all these lines under my eyes?). It makes me realize how much of appearance is artifice, but also how much I want to be skilled in that artifice. It makes it very difficult to answer that last question about whether the things that I want can be accomplished or sustained. Yes, it is a creative outlet. Yes, it is making me think about my body more, and more kindly. But it is also making me spend a lot of time hunting down flaws, and then cursing my inability to cover them.

It’s complicated, y’all.

Join me next time when I talk a little bit more about expectations– namely, how we can’t compare ourselves to the folks we see on Instagram and YouTube.


Bad Girl’s Club Perkins Gilman

Liberal Foundation Part 1: Skincare

Being a place to start before you even start.

“Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age.”

— Carrie Fisher

(Before we get started, I need to do a general disclaimer for this post, and for my posts in general. Whenever possible, I’m going to be linking to articles, videos, etc. where I got information. However, I started on this makeup journey long before I decided I was turning this into a blog, and I was not exactly keeping track of things as I started researching and synthesizing material. So there will be times that I say things and I don’t have research to back that up, and that will be because it is either entirely my opinion, or something I learned that I can no longer trace the provenance of. If I say something and you go, “Hey, that is taken from so and so,” PLEASE LET ME KNOW in the comments. I value intellectual honesty very highly, and I never want to be taking credit for work that is not mine. (I also want to be giving credit and views to anyone who has helped me develop my ideas, because internet content creation is an insane hustle and we need to be looking out for one another). Also, if anything I say sounds weird to you– go with that instinct. Do your own research. I’m an internet rando who keeps changing my pen name, there are definitely more trustworthy and authoritative experts out there.)

Today starts the first topic miniseries, Liberal Foundation. In this series of posts, I’ll be talking about what I see as some of the foundational (get it?) issues and questions that need to be addressed when you are getting started on a makeup journey. Some of them will be practical issues, like “buying brushes” and “figuring out what the heck someone means when they say they are ‘baking’ their look.” Some of them will be some of the more difficult, philosophical questions about makeup: How much should we trust YouTubers? (A lot, also not at all.) Does more expensive makeup actually work better than cheaper makeup? (No. Also yes.)


Hello and welcome to The Feminist Lipstique. I’m your hostess; today you can call me Berry Rich Fisher. I’m a feminist in my early 30s who recently became obsessed with makeup, and is planning to travel back in time and physically harm my 21-year-old self for not starting me on a path to good skincare when there was a small possibility I had good skin.

I never started a skincare regime in my teens or 20s for a couple of reasons. First, I absolutely refused to give in to the pathological fear of aging that the beauty industry and culture at large try to infuse in women. Growing up, at least half of the beauty industry ads I a saw were promising me they would halt the aging process. I knew the phrase, “fights fine lines and wrinkles” long before I knew what fine lines and wrinkles were. And I didn’t understand the fuss at all. People age. That is what we do. And no beauty cream in the world can lengthen your shrinking telomeres, so we’d best just get used to it.

Second, the chances that I ever actually HAD good skin that I was supposed to be protecting are slim to none. I think I’ve literally always had dark circles, even as a child. I genuinely don’t remember what I look like without them. And I’ve pretty much always had acne, and when you have acne AND Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, what you have a lot of are scabs. And scars. I would look in the mirror at my blotchy, acne-ridden-and-pocked face, with the deep purple shadows under my eyes and the wobble of extra flesh under my chin, and think, “THIS is the fantastic skin I’m supposed to be protecting? THIS is the best skin I’ll have in my life? No fucking thank you. I’ll save $50 a month on skin cream and just buy books instead.” (We’ll delve more into my complicated relationship with my body, appearance, and self esteem next time, so look forward to that exploration of my psyche!)

And that was just the bad skin things I KNEW about.

You will not truly know what state your skin is in until you start using a lot more products on it. Your under-eye area? In addition to being dark, it is full of tiny fine lines, like the bed of a dried-out lake. You’re presumably fine cheeks? Tons of pores that you didn’t know you had, and lots of little hairs to boot. Your eyelids? How is it even possible for skin to have these many creases? Who is responsible for this? I want to talk to the manager.

On top of this, your skin is basically destined to get worse once you start getting into makeup. Three things are certain to throw your skin into a bizarre freefall: hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, gender transition, getting on or off birth control), stress, and starting a new makeup regime. You feel like you are going crazy. Your skin gets simultaneously too dry and too oily. You are blocking some pores, which gives you pimples, which you feel like you have to cover with makeup, which leads to more pimples. It’s a vicious cycle.

I had started to get a bit into skincare shortly before I got into makeup but… damn have I had to up my game. This Cosmopolitan article describes the order in which you should apply skincare and makeup. There are 14 steps. Nine of them are skincare.

My new lord and savior, makeup artist and Youtuber Robert Welsh, constantly advocates for the importance of skin care. He even says crazy things, like doing different skincare before your makeup than you do in your morning and evening routines. I don’t know what kind of put together human being has time to do skincare in the morning that is different from the skincare they do right before their makeup, but I am not that put together human. So I do one skincare routine in the morning, then put on my makeup. Then I do another skincare routine at night. I’ll walk you through my routines, trying to follow the Cosmo advice order. But a few pieces of general advice, first:

  1. The first and best skincare thing you can do is drink enough water. You need to be well-hydrated inside and out to get the best results out of your skin. Am I drinking enough water? That is between me and my addiction to Diet Dr. Pepper. (No, no I am probably not).
  2. If things start going wrong, talk to a dermatologist. For goodness’ sake. If you start getting concerned about how your skin is reacting to your skincare or to your makeup, talk to a medical professional. I am a random person on the internet. Do not take my word as gold.
  3. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, use exfoliating products with plastic microbeads. and be careful of products with exfoliators like walnut shells. Microbeads are often too small to be caught by water treatment facilities, so they go into the oceans and rivers, and then fish eat them, and then their bellies get full of plastic, and then they starve, and then other fish eat them, and then THEIR bellies get full of plastic, and then THEY starve, and IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT, STARVING FISH? Anyway, it’s bad for the environment, most companies have stopped using them, just double check. Be careful with products that have physical rather than chemical exfoliators as well. As explained in this Bustle article (but it’s you know, Bustle, so… grain of salt) most dermatologists prefer you to use products with chemical abrasives rather than physical abrasives, like walnut scrubs. Chemical abrasives are usually a bit gentler on your skin, and have smaller particles that are less likely to cause microtears or overly irritate your skin. But all exfoliators and abrasives are… you know… exfoliators and abrasives. They are designed to take parts of your skin off. Things are going to feel weird, and again, if things feel too weird stop using them for a while and TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.
  4. Do your best to stay within the skincare brand for all of your skincare. No, I am not a shill for Big Skincare. But brands put lots and lots of different things in their products. The products are designed to work well with other products in that line, not necessarily to work well with products from other brands. And some ingredients really shouldn’t be mixed together, or mixed in certain quantities, which is a possible result of combining product lines and brands. (You will notice that in my routine, I’m describing some products from different brands. Do what I say, not what I do.)
  5. If possible, stay in a skincare routine for at least a week or two before you start a new makeup routine. As any scientist will tell you, the more variables you add to an issue, the harder time you will have figuring out a problem if one arises. Just adding skincare to a routine when you’re not used to it can seriously make your skin go crazy, and you won’t know if it is your makeup or your skincare. Let it settle a bit before you start adding makeup to the mix.
  6. Pay attention to SPF in products/Pay attention to whether products say you shouldn’t be out in the sun. A lot of primers and foundations now come standard with some SPF protection (The one kind of skin damage I don’t really need to worry about as much, as I am a Pale Cave Dweller) but it is good to have at least one product with some SPF protection. You also need to pay attention to warnings on products as some of them, especially some related specifically to acne, actually make you more susceptible to sun damage.
  7. If at all possible, leave a brief window of time between putting on skincare and doing your makeup. Again, do as I say, not as I do. But as you’ll notice from the steps in the Cosmopolitan article, you are throwing a lot of things on your face in quick succession. Give your skin a chance to settle and breathe before you start throwing more things at it.

All right, that should be it… now on with the show. (Disclaimer: None of the brands I mention have given me any money or product in exchange for what I’m saying. I bought these products with my own money, sometimes because people on the internet told me to, like God intended.)

My routine in the morning:

  1. Cleanser: I currently use Clean & Clear’s morning burst facial cleanser. It is oil free, and has Vitamin C and Ginseng. The Vitamin C is apparently supposed to help prevent UV ray damage, promotes collagen production, and diminish fine lines and discoloration. I cannot attest to any of these things. This cleanser cleans my skin. I don’t know what the ginseng does. It’s ginseng. (I only do one round of cleanser, Cosmopolitan is way intense.)
  2. Toner: Toner supposedly is good for additional cleansing. tightening and cleaning pores, and smoothing your skin. I use it because the internet and one of my friends told me it is important. I use Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Formula toner, which is alcohol free and supposed to be less harsh than other, more astringent toners.
  3. Spot cream: I currently don’t use any spot cream, because I usually pick at any acne before it can be treated, and thus I’d be spot treating a scab and not a pimple. Yes, I’m working on controlling my OCD impulses. No, I don’t think this particular one is going to improve any time soon.
  4. Serum: To be totally fair, I bought my first serum like yesterday, because I was pretty sure it was a scam that Big Skincare was using to make us buy more things. From what I can tell, it is meant to basically be an intensifier, either helping you concentrate treatment on certain areas or boosting your moisturizer. I bought Neutrogena Hydroboost multivitamin booster. It has hyaluronic acid. From what I can tell, that is good for the same reason the Vitamin C was good. (I am not a scientist, I don’t know what you want from me).
  5. Eye cream: Kind of what it says on the tin, it is cream that is specially made for your problem areas around your eyes. Like I said earlier, the skin around your eyes IS A JERK that tries to ruin your entire look. It is also the thinnest, most delicate skin on your entire face, so you have to be careful with it. Until recently, I was using Olay Eyes ultimate eye cream, but I am pretty sure that 90% of the reason I thought it was working at all is because it is slightly tinted in my skin tone and it was basically acting as a concealer before I had concealer. I just switched to Neutrogena Hydro Boost gel cream, partly because it was highly recommended and partly because I’m trying to get more of my products to be of the same brand type, and Neutrogena as a whole has been pretty highly recommended as an affordable skincare product. Optional addition: a lot of people used eye masks, rollers, etc., in a combination of cold things, caffeinated things, etc. One of my friends suggested putting spoons in the freezer and then pressing them over your eyes. I haven’t tried that yet, because I keep forgetting to put the spoons in the freezer.
  6. Moisturizer: …Do I have to explain this one? Moisturizer is very, very important, because a lot of makeup will end up drying out your skin. I’m trying to become as fancy as my lord and savior Robert Welsh, so I currently have two moisturizers (though I will probably cut down to one when the non-Neutrogena product runs out): I have Olay Total Effects Whip with SPF 25. I just bought Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost water gel with hyaluronic acid, in the hopes that I will someday be fancy enough and good enough at time management to have a separate skincare regime for my morning and my pre-makeup periods. Remember, like foundation, you should be putting this on your neck as well. Unlike foundation, you should give your neck its very own dose of moisturizer, not just the extra that is left over from your face. (Some folks also say you need to put some on your chest and upper body, which they refuse to stop calling décolletage.) According to popular culture, I will someday be concerned about having loose, wrinkly neck skin. I look forward to being self conscious about a brand new thing.
  7. Oil: Apparently this is supposed to help more with moisturizing? I don’t use this. The last thing I need to do is add oil to my face. What I do instead of putting oil on my face: This is generally where I put on lip scrub and lip balm. I use a sugar scrub from Diva Stuff. It is edible, and it tastes like caramel sea salt, and it is very, very dangerous for my self control. I use Burt’s Bees lip balm.
  8. SPF: apparently it is a thing to add SPF as its own thing at the end of your skincare. I trust my Olay Whip and my general lack of going outside to protect me, but I will probably add this in once I have run out of the Olay Whip, as I don’t think my Neutrogena products contain SPF.
  9. Primer: This is kind of between skincare and makeup, but for today’s purposes we’ll call it skincare. Primer is what you put on your skin before your makeup to try and create a better, more even base for your makeup, that causes pigments to stick better and your products to go on smoother. There are roughly 432464 different types of primer. I have about… 7. From Nyx, E.L.F., and Wet n’ Wild. I cannot truthfully attest to any of them doing what they are supposed to do. The pore blurring ones do not seem to blur my pores. The blemish treating ones do not seem to treat my blemishes. The matte ones… I guess make my face matte? My face was kind of already matte? The hydrating luminous ones… well they make my face wet, mostly. They do at least seem to help with making my makeup go on smoother, and making my makeup adhere better. I will report back after I have experimented more with primer.

God, I get tired just writing that. Good thing it’s time for my night time routine!

  1. Makeup remover: I use Neutrogena makeup removing towlettes, and also Neutrogena oil free eye makeup remover. I prefer using the towlettes, because they are usually quicker and easier, but the liquid remover can be necessary for things like eyeliner and mascara. Also, as someone who is entering the Delicate Skin Years of My Early-to-Mid-30s, towlettes and wipes should apparently be verbotten, as they are harsher and more likely to contain alcohol than a removing liquid. I’ll try to cut down, but they can fully pry my makeup wipes from my cold, dead, lazy hands.
  2. Cleanser: No matter what parts of the internet try to tell you, USING A MAKEUP REMOVING WIPE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS WASHING YOUR FACE. I can’t believe I even have to say that. This is the world we live in. I use Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Deep Clean Face Wash. It has sea minerals and sea kelp extract. Sea kelp apparently is supposed to help moisturize and soften your skin. Go sea kelp.
  3. Moisturizer: You are supposed to use different moisturizers for the day and for the evening. I am not totally convinced that it isn’t another scam by Big Skincare, but people on the internet claim it is legit, so it must be true. In general, night creams seem to be heavier, and with slightly different ingredients– less emphasis on SPF, more emphasis on skin repair and firming. I use Olay Total Effects 7 in One. Do I remember what the 7 things are supposed to be? Of course I don’t.

Other things I use occasionally:

If I want a deeper cleanse, or if my skin feels particularly rough, I use Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Scrub. It claims it can be used daily, but I try to use it somewhat sparingly. Especially when you are using a lot of other products, or your skin is delicate for other reasons, deeper exfoliatiors can irritate or even harm your skin. Most articles I’ve looked at say that you should use an exfoliating scrub between 1 and 3 times a week.

I have also started an extra eye regime, because it seems like my dark circles are resistant to any and all scientific intervention. I started using Golden Lady 24K Gold Under Eye masks. They are supposed to be hydrating and help with dark circles and puffiness. Mostly, they are shiny. And a little sting-y. People with more sensitive skin, or people who put them on directly after their cleanser, have reported a bit of a burning sensation. I get that occasionally with them, but not consistently. But beauty is pain, or whatever. (Mostly I paid money for them and I don’t want to give up on them until I’ve given them a thorough try, and I am desperate to take care of my dark circles.)

So, that is what keeps me young and beautiful. Or at least young. Or… this is the stuff I put on my face, ok?

One of the things that I find really, really important in beauty blogging and beauty vlogging is an upfront discussion of prices. All of this stuff can get really expensive, really fast. Skincare maybe most of all– I tried to follow a few links for “top serums and moisturizers” and wound up on sites where bottles that hold less than 3 ounces of product are over $150 by themselves and I had to go take deep breaths for a while. Most of the time, the influencers and celebrities who are peddling skincare are not using that skincare. You think Kylie Jenner uses her own products? Of course she fucking doesn’t, she’s nearly a billionaire. She probably goes full Elizabeth Bathory and bathes in ethically sourced virgin blood, or something. She’s not using a $30 bottle of moisturizer. So for my posts, I’m going to do my best to provide a general cost (It might not be specific, if it has been too long since I bought certain products and can’t remember their price, or if the online price for it has been inflated because it has been discontinued, etc.). I’m also going to try to provide a sense of how often you will go through the product and how often it needs to be replaced– you may be able to splurge on a product if it’s going to last you three months, but if you have to replace it regularly you could decide it isn’t worth it. Finally, I’m going to try and provide a general sense of whether I think the products work and the price is worth it. (This last bit may sometimes be scattered throughout the post, and not saved for the end. It depends on what I’m writing about).

Rough cost of all skincare products combined: About $170

How often they need to be replaced: It’s pretty inconsistent. The moisturizers I probably go through once every month or two months. The serum, eye cream, lip scrub, and eye mask I’ve only had for a couple weeks at the most so I haven’t had a chance to run through them. The primer I’ve bought at various points over the last six months, and I haven’t run out of any of them yet.The toner and cleanser I’ve had since August, and they’re still going strong. And I’m pretty sure I’ve had this tube of lip balm for over a year.

Are they worth it? I think so? This is another “Do as I say, not as I do” things. While I had started the basics of my skincare routine weeks before I started playing around more with makeup, a lot of these things have been added within the past couple weeks as I’ve noticed weak points in my skincare game or things I’m still not fully satisfied with. So my variables are kind of up in the air, and I can’t necessarily pin certain problems or improvements on certain things.

However, I think they are mostly improving things. My acne has stopped breaking out quite as much, and I think my dark circles have decreased in intensity, though not completely disappeared. My skin seems to be firmer and for the most part, softer. My existing problem area is a lot of dry skin around my lips and nose, which I attribute to a mix of the drying influence of my makeup and my sleep apnea machine hugging tight to my face/blowing air at my face all night. (Yep, I have sleep apnea, too. I have ALL THE FUN PROBLEMS). That is one of the reasons I bought the serum; I’m hoping if I do more targeted moisturizing, it will help with that problem.

So that is what I have to say on skincare. Join me next time, where I discuss the next Liberal Foundation topic, figuring out what you will and won’t change when you start a makeup routine.


Berry Rich Fisher

What Exactly Am I Doing Here?

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Being an introduction to your narrator, and an explanation of how this all came to be.

“I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.”

— Dorothy Parker

Hello and welcome to The Feminist Lipstique. I’m your hostess; today you can call me Rebel Rose Parker. (More on that in a second.) I’m a feminist in my early 30s who has recently become obsessed with makeup. And that’s… honestly pretty weird for me. Let me tell you a story.

One of my most-used phrases for a very long time was, “I suck at being a girl.” By which, of course, I didn’t mean that I was bad at existing in the state of “female.” I was quite good at it, actually. I’m even doing it right now, as we speak! I meant that I was bad at, and often uncomfortable with, traditional markers of femininity.

I didn’t have many female friends growing up, and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to prove I was “just one of the guys” to my male friends. I decided fairly arbitrarily that I hated the color pink. I was very tall for my age, and have been overweight for most of my life, so I outgrew the cute clothes my female classmates often wore and was dressing from the “women’s” section of most stores by the time I was 12. Even worse, medical issues left me in a backbrace for multiple years, so for a long time during and even after my wardrobe consisted of elastic waist pants and the most shapeless shirts I could find. Most of my bullies, antagonists, and rivals were fellow girls and young women. I really, truly loathed a lot of the stereotypes that got applied to girls, but instead of actually understanding why, I instead developed a serious case of “Not-Like-Other-Girls-itis,” or NLOGitis, a plague that is sadly common among budding feminists, but is usually cured by a healthy dose of gender and women’s studies.

I played with makeup a bit when I was a kid, and even ended up with some small makeup kits and hand-me-downs that were the majority of my collection well into my early 20s. But when I got to junior high and high school, I mostly kinda… stopped. For a number of reasons.

One was money– I absolutely would have been a Goth in high school, but I didn’t have the money for the accoutrements (or the sleep schedule for putting on a full face of white makeup before my 8 AM classes). A big one was my case of NLOGitis; “normal” girls were obsessed with makeup, so I wasn’t. Some of it was about the various voices in the back of my head, telling me that I looked like a harlot or a clown whenever I put anything on. Part of it was my hatred of gender norms (though again, I didn’t know that was why I was upset at the time). Why should I have to put on makeup? Guys didn’t have to put on makeup. Why should I spend an hour each morning putting on makeup in an effort to make it look like I wasn’t wearing makeup? And a part that I wasn’t willing to admit to myself at the time was that… I wasn’t good at it. I wasn’t good at putting on makeup, and I hate not being good at things.

I went to a couple Mary Kay parties with my mom, and wound up with a bit of makeup to go off to college with, but the only ones I really ever wore were the lipsticks, mostly nudes and dark browns. In the back of my head, always, was the idea, “This doesn’t look good. You look foolish.”

College is also when I started to identify as a feminist. I took my first women’s studies course, and wound up with a women’s and gender studies second major. I started to learn the vocabulary and ideology that I needed in order to understand my NLOGitis, to understand why compulsory femininity felt so strange to me, to understand about choice within context, about the virgin/whore dichotomy, and about the million and one ways the patriarchy manages to fuck everyone over basically every day. It’s when I first learned about the Vagina Monologues, and sex-positive feminism, and slut walks, and words like “butch” and “femme,” and the myriad of ways feminism and femininity clash, or come together, or complement one another, or try to destroy one another.

In grad school, I was in a new city, and felt at least a little bit like a new me. I discovered red lipstick. And even though there was still a voice in my head telling me I looked like a harlot, I started wearing it, because I looked damn good in it. I started wearing it quite a bit– not constantly, but often enough to start showing up pretty frequently in my Facebook timeline. I also started exploring a bit with eyeliner (which I still have not mastered) and concealer (because my acne is a nightmare) and… I kinda stopped there again. That was the extent of my brave exploration.

A couple years later, I was back in my home town. And my hometown got an Ulta. And I started going lipstick crazy. Red, pink, grey, purple, black… liquid matte lipstick became my new bff.

But still, I wasn’t really doing anything else. And now it was almost entirely due to two things: my discomfort with gender norms, and I still wasn’t good at it. I finally had enough disposable income to buy things. I had recovered from my sever case of NLOG-itis, thank god. Wearing harlot red lipstick had cured me of my fears of looking like a harlot, and wearing purple lipstick had cured me of most of my fears of looking like a clown. (Starting to wear eye shadow brought them back. Neuroses are fun!) But I was still uncomfortable with gender norms– what did it say about me as a feminist if I was playing into expectations of female beauty? What did it mean, in a hyper-capitalist world, for the makeup industry to adopt language of “empowerment” through conspicuous consumption? And even if I wanted to do more with makeup, I sucked at it, and where was I supposed to start? I get the same sensation walking into an Ulta and seeing a staff member that I do walking into a mechanic’s shop: I don’t know what is going on, I’m intimidated, and I’m pretty sure if I ask one of the people working there for advice they are going to sell me a lot of shit that I don’t need and don’t really understand.

But I hit a point where I needed a new creative outlet very, very badly. And after a lot of other options left me even more stressed out, I turned to makeup. I let the Ulta employees sell me a few overly-expensive things, I got tips from my drag queen friends, I started watching YouTube videos, and looking at tutorials, and experimenting with things. I started buying some makeup brushes on Wish, because oh my God there are mermaid makeup brushes and I can have them for $10. I began posting pictures on Facebook, and also sharing tips on what I had found worked well or poorly. (Let’s be honest, mostly poorly. For a long time the working title of this blog/idea was “Don’t Fuck it Up Like I Did”). My attempts to fish for compliments went particularly well, and I was getting positive feedback, and requests to do this more regularly. And I also found that I had a lot of things I wanted to say. I wanted to talk more about the conflicts and confluences between feminism and femininity, I wanted to talk about Ethics in Makeup Consumption, I wanted to talk about how to start a beginning makeup kit… and I just wanted to talk about feminism in general. And so now we’re here.

The name for this site was chosen from a suggestion by my aunt: The Feminist Lipstique. It’s obviously a nod towards Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique, but it’s also a nod towards something known as “lipstick feminism,” a branch of feminism that tries to make feminism and traditional femininity play nicely together. Some people think this is the best and only type of feminism, other people think it is a bunch of feminists who are in the sunken place and have become complicit in their own oppression. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m trying to forge my own path between gender expectations and my own desires, I’m trying to find where my opinions stop and culture peer pressure starts, and I’m trying to find a way to embrace femininity without embracing an industry that thrives on making women feel shitty about themselves.

This blog is going to be a huge part of me navigating that path. It’s going to be a mix of culture criticism, makeup tutorial, drama and gossip channel, and feminist education. I’m planning to start each blog post with a feminist quote, and to pick a new pen name every day that is a mix of one of my favorite lipstick color names and the name of a feminist or feminism-inclined person that I admire (thus, today I am Rebel Rose Parker). I’m hoping that someday this will be a mix of blog posts and videos– I’d really love to start doing Gender Studies Get Ready With Mes, where I explain concepts about feminism whilst also trying to blend out my eye shadow.

There are a few things you’re not going to get here: a thorough understanding of contouring, lipliner, or eyeliner (those things are dark magic and I do not get them), or a final, definite way to make feminism and femininity make sense together. You’re going to get a young woman who is flailing, experimenting, and educating her way through her newest passion project.

I hope you all enjoy.


Rebel Rose Parker