the tyranny of the end of year glow up
a tour of my 2023 faces
🕊️ Ceasefire Now in Gaza 🕊️
I can’t open TikTok without seeing at least one “beginning of 2023 vs. end of 2023” video on my feed. Every time without fail, I swipe to see the “end” photo. I feel like a test subject trapped in an experiment where I know I’m doomed to make the same choice every time, mouse #12 in Control Group C. I know this kind of content stems from the cultural pressure to show receipts for how you participated in self-optimization. You used your year “productively,” to become better, cooler, prettier, more interesting. These videos are modern day puritanical report cards. Despite knowing I’m being shown self-improvement propaganda, I still swipe because I can’t help myself. A big part of the allure is seeing how different the photos look. Like, how can that even be the same person??
It got me scrolling through my own photos. I limited the search parameters to “2023” and “selfie.”
There was so many faces of 2023. When I zoom out and look at my images in this way, I don’t see a beginning or end. While I vaguely know what season the photo was taken, I don’t see them in a linear before and after. They all blend together. I see a girl who was constantly experimenting with makeup, had a 2 month love affair with the laminated brow look before falling back onto the comforts of boy brow and brow flick. I see a many phases of a bob. Bangs I loved and bangs I hated. Nasolabial folds that were deeper some weeks than others. Goggle tan rings, which I still feel the urge to conceal. The way I always tilt my face towards the right because I believe it’s my “good side.” The sacred friendship ritual of getting ready for dinner out with Ethaney while our Merit makeup bags are sitting on the hotel sink counter and Lust for Life is playing from her phone (never mine), our freshly washed faces blocked off with unblended contour like Picasso paintings.
In one of these photos, I hated my hair but didn’t want to admit it to anyone because I felt a pressure to always love my short bob in all its iterations.
In one of these photos I remember thinking I look really fucking yassified it’s comical.
In one of these photos I felt prettier with less makeup.
When I got my wisdom teeth out in February, I didn’t wear makeup for about two weeks during post-op. (What I really couldn’t wait to do was tear up a bag of chips). And I remember how FUN it was to play with makeup again. There’s a makeup look for every vibe I’m feeling. Sometimes it’s only eyebrows and a lip—NO EYELINER! because it feels new-wave-film-protaganisty and sometimes I want to look shiny and bouncy like a cartoon soap bubble. Niche makeup inspo, anyone?
Here are my 10 favorite makeup items of 2023:
This is branded as an eye balm but I use it all over my face. It feels cool and tingly. Like an angel’s frosty breath. I was quite obsessed with this in the summer because it was so lightweight on the face and made me feel as bouncy as a boiled egg.
I love that the founder of Huda has been so supportive of Palestine recently. If you have my lip color, this Pinky Brown color looks very natural—like the darkest part of your lip.
I’m wearing the HUDA Lip Liner in the babushka pic, and the Cashew color lip gloss in both pics. Again, it really matches my natural lip color but with a little more uniformity. I’ve never been a lip gloss girl before this specific one from Tower28. It’s not sticky. Very hydrating but cuter than Vaseline. I use a swipe of it before bed even.
The reason why I like this blush isn’t actually so much about the color (a berry blush is a dime a dozen…) but the application which feels like a gentle stamp. Super easy for hands-free blotting, I don’t use a brush or even my fingers to blend. Layers well.
Lol when I first got this color I actually didn’t like it. But then, it REALLY grew on me. You know what I think it is…orange tones don’t look great on me in summer probably bc I’m orangey from the sun. But in winter it really balances out against my skin tone and somehow looks fresh and sort of 1960s mod girl.
Many years ago before KOSAS was carried in Sephoras across America they had a booth at the Echo Park Craft Fair. I swatched a brick red color called Fringe. An older woman and her daughter next to me told me “that’s your color” and I believed them. I used Fringe for years, until they revamped their lip line. The color is now called “Deep Talks.”
So I used to be a MERIT concealer stick girl but this liquid concealer totally had me converted. I find that in winter with the cold air, all my makeup products get drier and more cake-y, so a liquid concealer blends more smoothly. My shade is KTOWN.
I recently tried this for my hand eczema and have to say: it helps. No it’s not gonna cure all your redness or peeling but it provides itch relief and I’ll take that.
9. FRECK Pen
The OG freckle pen. I’ve tried others and they just don’t perform as well. So good for summer makeup.
10. REFY Brow Sculpt
I saved the most polarizing one for last! Laminated brows are very much a 2023 look. I will do them occasionally when I’m in the mood. The REFY product is the only formula I’ve used that really gets all my hairs swept up and in place.
What were your 2023 makeup holy grails?
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