The 28 Most Important Beauty Lessons I've Learned (In Honor of My 28th Birthday)

Including how to avoid regrettable bangs.
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Including how to avoid regrettable bangs.

I just celebrated the greatest day in the history of the world: my birthday! Whoopee! I made it through another year.

I’m 28 now, which is kind of a "meh" birthday considering it’s not 25 and it’s not 30. I have no reservations about getting older, but I liked 27 so much that I’m kind of sad to see it go. I hope 28 will be just as wonderful, and I think it will.

So in the spirit of this monumental occasion, here are 28 of my favorite beauty moments thus far in my life, whether that’s lessons I learned from you my fellow xoVainers, by trial and error, or just the products that I can’t live without.

1. Beauty lessons are everywhere! Remember when I interviewed my little brother about his beauty philosophy?

2. Getting your lips done isn’t scary. I wrote about my experience back in January, detailing how I learned about the process and that taking it slow is the best way to plump up your lips. (I didn’t say "plump your pout" because Jane hates when we write that way!) If you wanna stick needles in your face, find a good doctor (shoutout to Dr. Jess Prischmann!) and go slowly. I’m pretty sure all of my Juvederm is gone now, and I miss it ever so much.

3. You’ll always remember your first love. My very first "real" red lipstick was Clinique’s Deep Lacquer, and I still have it. There’s just a teeny-tiny nub left, but I’ll never get rid of it; I'll keep it in a box when I’m a little old lady 'til someone sells it at an antique store after I die.

4. Sometimes you start writing for a beauty site and then some of its contributors become your really good friends and send you lipsticks when you’re sad or meet you backstage at a NYFW show (I finally met our dearly departed angel—she's not dead, she just got a full-time beauty-editor job elsewhere—Alle)! Even if I stopped writing for xoVain today, I’d have a bunch of cool-ass girlfriends to show for it. Did you know that Sable, Dani, Marci and I ate dinner at the Times Square Olive Garden last year? How romantic, right?

5. It’s OK to hate your hair texture sometimes, and to wish you had your best friend’s curls or sleek, straight hair. I had big waves in the mid-aughts, when pin-straight Xtina hair was in and I was never gonna have that. I learned to accept my hair for what it is, but it took a good cut and the right products (and age) to do so. But it’s totally normal to want to shave your head every so often or hide it under a blanket.

6. My skin is much better and glowier when I drink a giant spinach-y smoothie every day. I am SO not one of those "cleanse detox green juice no drinking chemicals R bad" people, but my skin is just not as fresh when I’m living on cereal and popcorn.

7. Some people just don’t need a "signature scent." It’s not for everyone, as romantic as it sounds in magazines.

8. This article by Rachel comes in handy at least once a month. When my girlfriends get new boyfriends, I always send it to them as a reference guide.

9. You’re never too old to wear glitter in your hair.

10. I'm not going to renew my VIB Rouge status at Sephora next year. I’m a VIB Rouge thanks to splitting the membership with my mom, but what do you get out of it? Not a whole lot. If I spend that much money per year and my only real reward is sort-of-fast shipping, it’s not really worth it for me.

11. Cutting off all your hair is liberating. Marci just did it, and so did I. I was so sick of my hair, which was about shoulder length, that I sat down in my stylist’s chair and told her to hack it all off. Now I have a cute little bob; it’s the shortest I’ve worn my hair since I was four. I feel much sexier with short hair than I did when it was long and swishy.

12. Wearing lots of "trashy" makeup is fun. It’s OK not to be down with the "effortless French girl beauty" that’s still so popular. There’s a place for all the trashy women, and that place is right next to me.

13. Your Holy Grail products DO exist, but finding them is the journey and the challenge. (Do I sound super-wise?) Here are a few of mine, for reference: Aveda Naturally Straight, MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, the tragically discontinued MAC RiRi Woo, Le Labo Ylang 49 perfume, steam curlers.

14. Staying as moisturized as possible in winter will make you 40% less miserable, says the girl from Minnesota. I like oil baths with vitamin E oil—just be sure to spray the tub out!

15. Everyone can go platinum blonde. The 7000 articles we’ve written about it should prove that.

16. If I’m going to recommend one frivolous beauty treatment, it’s definitely eyelash extensions. You wake up looking like a gorgeous Bambi princess fairy lady. You’ve probably seen me fluttering mine on my Instagram. (Minneapolis, they’re from Jett Makeup.)

17. Your boyfriend is probably dying to try a sheet mask. Just saying. The couple that masks together … scares the neighbors together?

18. Sharing a beauty product or a tip brings us together. Want to get to know some cool girl in a bar or in your class? Ask her about her lipstick. Works every time!

19. Don’t mess with your hair every time you go through a breakup. I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it! This is how I ended up with red hair that was a pain to remove and with at least three sets of regrettable bangs. 

20. If beauty is something that really interests you and makes you happy, don’t ever let anyone make you feel stupid about it. I had a dude once tell me that this wasn’t "real writing," but I know at heart he was just jealous of how happy writing about beauty products makes me. If this is your passion, then pursue it any way you want, whether that’s cosmetology school, blogging or just buying every lipstick you fancy.

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21. When in doubt, blow it out. OK, that was soooo cheesy, but a good blowout makes me 100% happier. A good hair day is a good hair day, OK?

22. If your skin is really bad and nothing is working, go to the dermatologist. Suck it up and pay for it because some of us don’t have perfect skin and need a daily pill. There’s nothing wrong with that.

23. People who hate selfies are sad people. I think you are all beautiful and I want to see your faces in my feed every day.

24. Figure out where to spend and where to save. The most expensive face cream in the world might not be right for you, but that cheapy mascara might not be either. I always recommend trying the sample sizes at Sephora or making friends with beauty-counter sales associates to figure out what works for YOU. I’m not saying you should go buy La Mer, but there’s a balance between Bobbi Brown and the Target aisle, and you gotta grab from both sides.

25. When in doubt, ask the commenters. You guys know a ton about makeup, skincare and haircare. I’ve learned tons of things from all of you. Some of our commenters have turned into contributors, too!

26. If Kim Kardashian is your beauty icon, roll with it! Alexa Chung isn’t the be-all and end-all of beauty icons. You can find inspiration everywhere, from Miss Piggy’s sassy curls to Jenna Jameson’s old porn-star smoky eye. (These are personal inspirations, obviously, but you get the picture.)

27. Everyone can wear a red lip. Don’t be afraid. It’s the best, sexiest, most powerful and legendary color. Try a stain to start, then work your way up to balls-to-the-wall red.

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28. A community like xoVain is the best place to learn about beauty—whether that’s the kind that comes from perfectly blended eyeshadow or the kind that comes from within. Growing and sharing like we do has made xoVain a supportive space for everyone, and I am totally thankful for it. Thanks to all of you for giving me suggestions, tips, ideas and love. XO!