Our Beauty Editor Did My Makeup for a Weekâ€"Here's What Happened

I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about makeup. A fresh coat of mascara can perfect any smize (hey, Tyra!), yet having black crud lodged in your crow’s feet at a 5 p.m. meeting? Not so fierce (I can’t quit you, Top Model). I’m an eye-rubber, a lip-biter, and a skin-picker, so applying layers of powder and goop—creamy, glossy, matte, or otherwise—to said areas can be counterproductive. And then there’s the matter of time: I have none. With a 1-year-old at home and hour-and-a-half commute to and from work every day, painting my face each morning—even if in possession of one of those idiot-proof color-by-numbers kits—just isn’t a priority. Still, when it’s done well, makeup truly can make a gal feel gaw-geous.

For no other reason than curiosity about what I would actually look like—and how my colleagues would react—I asked Women’s Health’s senior associate beauty editor Jessica Chia if she’d do my makeup at the office for a week straight. Being the polite person she is, Jessica jumped all over it, calling in boxes upon boxes of products and meeting me at my desk every morning to get her da Vinci on. Here’s how the experiment unfolded:

Lauren Del Turco

Day 1: The Kylie Jenner-ish Look
(No, Jessica didn’t get her hands on the lip kit (cue angels singing); she just based the look off of Kylie’s heavy-on-the-highlighter and contouring dealio.)

Let me preface by saying that this photo doesn’t come even close to capturing just how many products I had layered on my skin. I truly understand now why celebs hit up red carpets looking like they’ve walked through a car wash of liquid foundation. Up close they appear like cartoon characters, but on film it (usually) shows up subtler.

Lauren Del Turco

While I thoroughly enjoyed the process of having all of the products applied (Jessica and I got in some great get-to-know-ya girl talk), I was definitely startled upon first look at my glow-y complexion and glued-on synthetic lashes. I had only worn fake lashes once before, at my wedding, so having them on at the office felt innappropriate.

I also felt very shiny. Beauty editors and product advertisements use adjectives like “dewy” often, in the context of being an aspirational look. But to me, dewy is just a fancy word for oily. The sixteen-year-old in me kind of wanted some Clearasil for my nose and forehead, but I resisted the urge to mess with Jessica’s handiwork.

It took me about 20 minutes to feel comfortable enough to leave my office; however, when I did, the reaction was mostly positive. I think? There were a lot of “wow”s and “pretty!”s, but when our senior fashion market editor said I looked “very awake,” it didn’t seem like a wholehearted endorsement. “It’s a lot eye,” she said. Hmm.

Confirming my suspicion that the eyes were wearing me, rather than me wearing them, during a meeting with Rodale’s senior vice president of digital operations and strategy, she paused to say: “The eyes…I dunno. Maybe it’s a little too much.”

I peeled them off right after that meeting, which was only about two hours after they were first applied. I also wiped some of the highlighter off my cheeks and around my eyes. When I bumped into the site’s managing editor in the bathroom, she said I looked “nice and natural,” so I’ll go with that.

All in all, I felt like a bride from the neck up…and a schlep from the neck down. Note to self: There’s no point in wearing a face full of makeup if you’re going to pair it with a casual outfit. (Which, um, is all I own.)

Lisa Chudnofsky

Day 2: The Gwen Stefani-ish Look
This was my least favorite of the looks. While I used to enjoy experimenting with a dramatic lip, this shade just felt like too much. Maybe it's the orange-y tint it left on my front teeth, or the embroidered floral sweater, but when I look at this photo, all I see is Little Edie from Grey Gardens. I should just go home to my cats and flip through old pictures of myself wearing a bathing cap on the Coney Island boardwalk.

I walked with my head down for a good part of the day, but when I entered a senior brand meeting filled with the most put together women in our office, I could no longer hide.

“Look at you! You put your face on!” screamed our associate publisher right when I walked through the doors. “You look gorgeous!”

I didn’t feel gorgeous, but I did appreciate the compliment. The best comment to come from that meeting—and perhaps from the entire week—was from our director of communications and special projects: “I can’t even deal, you’re not even real.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Lauren Del Turco

Day 3: The Metallic Look
It may appear like I’m wearing an aluminum eye mask in this photo, but I will say that my reflection looked much different in an actual mirror. Most of the people I ran into that day called the look “subtle.” Our online senior editor even stopped me mid-conversation to say how much she liked it. Still, looking at this pic, all I see now is someone who should never wear metallic eye shadow again—especially not with a pink wooly sweater. (This experiment has led me to seriously rethink my office attire. You may see “Our Fashion Editor Dressed Me for an Entire Week—See What Happened” pop up on the site in the not-too-distant future.)

Lisa Chudnofsky

Day 4: The Angelina Look
Phew. So I really wasn’t mad at this. Out of all of the looks, it was definitely the most “me.” I even felt pretty. That is, until one magazine staffer (who shall not be named, because I’m nice) made an unsolicited observation that I was wearing a lot of makeup. “Is it for a story?” she asked. “Because it’s not very you.”

She was right, in that I don’t normally wear that much makeup, but I will say: If I were going out to dinner with my husband or even with some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, this is a face I would feel confident wearing. So suck it, Youknowwhoyouare.

Lisa Chudnofsky

Day 5: The Smokey Eye Look
The smokey eye is nothing new, but you can really get it wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. So when Jessica told me that I’d be putting this look on myself at home, I balked.

After following the instructions she handed me (an illustration on a napkin, which was actually rather artistic), even down to the eyebrow gel (which I’d never used on myself before), I didn’t necessarily think I looked like a clown, but I just didn’t feel…pretty. I’ve got a bold enough personality—no need to scream it through my pores.

To be honest, I was actually impressed that I didn’t come out looking like Janis Ian in Mean Girls. My husband was less so.

I’d forgotten all about the heavy makeup on my face by dinnertime, so when he walked into the kitchen and asked, “What’s that black shit on your eyes?” it took me by surprise. It was like a reverse Breakfast Club moment—I wanted to reply, “Why…Claire did it.”

Instead, I told him about the experiment—that I’d been getting my makeup done all week long, and this was apparently the first time he’d noticed.

“Of course I noticed. I just like you better without makeup, so I didn’t say anything earlier. But this one is really noticeable.”

“And not in a good way, I assume,” I asked without the cadence of a question.

“I just think you look great without it,” he said.

And that was that. No, I didn’t need my husband to say something quasi-cute like that for an esteem boost, but in the moment it confirmed what I’d felt all along: Nothing’s prettier than you doing you.

Get the Looks
I’m back to dusting my face with a light layer of anti-shine powder and blush each morning, but if you happened to dig any of the looks I wore, Jessica’s got you covered:

Day 1: “A dramatic kickoff calls for a full face of makeup: Bronzy, contoured, and highlighted to glow-y perfection, with a glossy nude lip, a la Kylie Jenner. Try Lune + Aster Moonrise Glow & Contour Bronzing Palette ($46, bluemercury.com). It’s the only one I’ve found that’s so subtle you’d swear you were just born with striking cheekbones.”

Day 2: “A red statement lip is the LBD of makeup. Gwen Stefani’s matte red lip was my inspiration for this look, but matte formulas tend to be too drying for the average coffee-sipping, desk-lunching woman. Instead, I lined Lisa's lips with a nude lip crayon and swiped on a layer of Dermelect Smooth + Plump Lipstick in Illicit ($28, dermelect.com), a true red whose conditioning hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and vitamin E make application as mindless as putting on lip balm.”

Day 3: “Season after season, Fashion Week models strut down the runway with lash-to-brow metallic lids, and for good reason: It’s extremely versatile and takes about 10 seconds to do. Liquid formulas like Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow ($26, wanderbeauty.com) keep lids from looking crepe-y. Swipe it onto the upper lid, smudge up past your crease before it sets, and anchor with a flick of black liner and a few lashings of mascara.”

Day 4: “A classic cat eye paired with major lashes never gets old—see Liz Taylor and Angelina Jolie. Apply eye primer so your liner stays where you put it, and draw the line. If you’re a rookie, try Clio Waterproof Brush Liner in Kill Black ($25, clubcliousa.com). It handles like a (skinny!) marker, not an unwieldy paintbrush, and dries in seconds.”

Day 5: “Ahh, le smokey eye. This look is attention-grabbing, sexy, and versatile. Any shadow works, but if you want to go nuts, the 12-shade spectrum of tawny and charcoal shades in Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky Palette ($54, sephora.com) is your playground.”

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