What's the Deal with "Cool Girl" Beauty?

Does this concealer/mascara/lipstick make me look cool?
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Does this concealer/mascara/lipstick make me look cool?

Remember that time I told you I was enlisted to do a beauty advice series and I said "YES" knowing full well I have no credentials other than the intrepid and fierce dedication to skincare knowledge and makeup skills? 

Well, dear readers, the time has come for me to deliver.

Some of you asked really neat, interesting beauty questions, some deeply perplexing and some I’m pretty sure I’m not medically qualified to counsel on, but one stuck out at me both for its simplicity but also its underlying complexities that nearly made me lose my damn mind. 

The question was simple and addressed how to do “cool girl looks done fast.”

My train of thought began with “Well, here’s what I would do…” but it seemed presumptuous since it’s not like I have a PhD in Cool Girl™ and it’s not like anything I’d say would necessarily align with this person’s style or whatever. This simple answer would be like, "Just wear dark sunglasses everywhere!" or "Join a band!" All cool things!

Except, what even is a Cool Girl? I mean in the sense how it is marketed: not like your friend who you like and therefore think is cool. I always figured that the same concept from David Auburn’s Proof —“crazy people don't sit around wondering if they're nuts”— can probably also be said for Cool Girls. Cool Girls do not fret about whether they are cool; they don't care about being cool, which somehow makes them even cooler! 

The moniker is awarded so haphazardly it kind of loses credibility, though. The Cut even went so far as to narrate a moment in the life of a Cool Girl.

Here is a photo of Caroline de Maigret, who I have read is the epitome of the "Cool Girl" and has authored a book called How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are (citizenship not required), but also furthering the whole "French girl" aspect of coolness, which is a whole other perplexing thing. She got one thing right though: the leather jacket. 

Here is a photo of Caroline de Maigret, who I have read is the epitome of the "Cool Girl" and has authored a book called How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are (citizenship not required), but also furthering the whole "French girl" aspect of coolness, which is a whole other perplexing thing. She got one thing right though: the leather jacket. 

Here are all the things I’ve read that appear to make up the Cool Girl persona:

  • She is either conventionally attractive or possesses unique features and unabashedly “owns them.” She’ll probably tell you about how she used to hate X about herself when she was a kid and then learned to love it. 
  • She possesses a youthful exuberance but also is a grownup and has her shit together.
  • She lives in the present and isn't too concerned with perfectionism.
  • She never spends more than 60 seconds choosing an Instagram filter.
  • She looks good without makeup and amazing with makeup yet mind-bogglingly executes both in the same amount of time.
  • She's supremely confident and self-possessed without seeming egotistical.
  • She appears to take little too seriously but is somehow also a “boss bitch.”
  • She has a cool job, generally in a creative field. Doesn’t complain about it.
  • She's peripherally aware of trends but ultimately sticks with what she likes and what suits her (in her own opinion, no one else’s — key factor).
  • Seemingly is friends with everyone, including at least a couple exes (thus probably an intimidating figure in said exes’ current girlfriends’ lives).
  • Everything about her is "effortless" and yet she is always busy. What’s that about?
  • She's on social media but not that often (presumably because she's too busy doing cool stuff and living her life). 

This chick sounds cool AF, but considering how the very nature of coolness is ephemeral and does not like being confined to statutes of definition and rules (obeying rules are the opposite of cool, duh) the more it is defined and called out, the more it collapses. Like most things that sound too cool to be true, you just can't be cool all the time. It's a box that we categorize women into, not unlike the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, it's an Instagram profile. 

We can probably all think of someone who fits this bill; we all want to be her in one way or another or we want to be her best friend. The Cool Girl tenets demand a near-aggressive allegiance to individuality and self-celebration, which are good things, but, like, calm down — let me make it before I fake it. 

Of course I want to be cool, but it makes me feel barfy to think of anyone labeling me as a Cool Girl. 

So, how exactly is one to figure out what “Cool Girl beauty looks” are (and how they can be done quickly, natch)? 

Milk Studios, perennial house of cool, has leveraged their reputation to create a brand-spanking-new beauty line. I do not know why they insist on rushing me, though. I like to take my time doing my makeup. 

Milk Studios, perennial house of cool, has leveraged their reputation to create a brand-spanking-new beauty line. I do not know why they insist on rushing me, though. I like to take my time doing my makeup. 

Seriously, do whatever you want — but actually do it. I know that’s vague direction, but in all honesty, there is probably something beauty-related we’ve all hung back on because we’re not sure it's very "us," because we don't think we can pull it off, because we’re too busy, or because we’re waiting for our hair to grow enough to do a certain style or color. Sometimes these are valid, but more often than not, when I’ve felt that way, it was because I was waiting for something to let me know that it was okay to do this. OF COURSE it is okay. No occasion is needed. 

Don’t have a ton of means but you want to change something to spruce up the old beauty routine and don't know where to start? Adopt a simple but unique “signature look” for a week and see how you feel in those figurative shoes. 

For instance, if you’re into winged liner, try wearing it in a bright color instead of black. Wear a bold lip color and zero other makeup. Try glitter in the daytime. Do a weird thing to your hair that you don’t normally do. Embrace your frizz! If you aren’t feeling so cool one morning, adopt the look of someone who you think is cool — it's a very effective form of "I look, therefore I am." Remember, coolness doesn't elicit inspiration; coolness is a result of inspiration.

Glossier has managed to brand themselves as the Cool Girl beauty brand in just four products — even if you don't like the products you can still appreciate the spirit of individuality and personality above what they physically offer.

Glossier has managed to brand themselves as the Cool Girl beauty brand in just four products — even if you don't like the products you can still appreciate the spirit of individuality and personality above what they physically offer.

Beauty is an extension of self-expression, so don't worry about being the Cool Girl; worry about clearing the path of whatever's in the way of expressing yourself. Most of us appreciate beauty and aesthetic in other things and people, but it doesn't necessarily occur to us to be flexible with our own personal ideas of beauty. Let yourself flex, girl.   

Be a slut for coolness! Or in general! Whatever you want!

Be a slut for coolness! Or in general! Whatever you want!

I hope in all this long-winded cool-pandering, some of this resonated with anyone concerned with being the Cool Girl. 

In all honesty, I hope most of you are reading this, thinking, Duh, I know all this. Tell me something I DON’T know. Because that would probably mean that you are way ahead of me. 

Does this disposable coffee cup make me look cool? Does wearing a hat indoors make me cool?

Does this disposable coffee cup make me look cool? Does wearing a hat indoors make me cool?

Am I the only person who has put this much thought into the Cool Girl moniker?