OK, well, at least one food person didn't know them.
Shot of a woman wearing purple lipstick and biting into a blackberry
Credit: Yuri Arcurs/Getty Images

I am bad at “girl” things. I know that’s a dumb/weird thing to say, but it’s how I feel sometimes.

I know how wield a cast-iron to make a perfect, medium-rare NY strip, I can revive broken whipped creams and emulsions like it ain’t no thing, and I live for a riveting conversation about fat to flour to liquid ratios in pastry dough. But the things it often seems like most females around me just inherently understand—things about hair, and nails, and makeup, and fashion—typically leave me in the dark without a match. I don’t consider myself a cave troll or anything, I just never picked up many of these self care truths or developed the beauty instincts that others appear to be born with, and so encountering all of it now… meh, just seems like a lotta work.

I know how to fake my way through well enough—I wear heels to work most days, walk confidently (because at 5’9” plus 3-4 inches depending on my shoes, I tower over most human life in our office), maintain a haircut that looks like “a look” but requires virtually no styling skills, and buy nice mascara (because a friend told me to)—and my general lack of knowing things (like that you’re “supposed to” put primer on your eyelids before applying eyeshadow) doesn’t much concern me.

However, a recent exchange in the test kitchen, OF ALL PLACES, ended up serving as a somewhat shocking (and for roughly 3 minutes of my life, borderline concerning) reminder that my vast ignorance and lack of what many of the radiant, I-admire-them-so women around me consider a “routine” exists. It all started when a few of us were working on making rosé jelly and a very kind, friendly freelance food stylist attempted to drum up casual conversation, a conversation that made its way onto the subject of this great Facebook group for makeup/beauty tips said stylist belongs to. The enlightening words passed between those in the room who knew what a “dupe” is led me to the following revelations, which I am almost positive my butter-saturated brain might not have arrived at on its own:

1. There really are Facebook groups dedicated to this stuff.

I knew plenty of groups geared towards various food interests existed… but makeup? Beauty? The idea has never once occurred to me. Which in retrospect, is pretty silly considering I know people who do the same sort of work I do, but for take-care-of-your-face content instead feed-your-face content. I guess if it doesn’t involve cookie dough, I’m not hearing it.

Anyway, there are tons of these Facebook groups—many of them, “secret.” (Why? IDK, maybe it’s less fun if we all know how to contour?) I can’t remember the group my new beauty godmother referenced specifically (shocking), but there’s plenty of ‘em to choose from if you wanted to find your own beauty support community. You just have to go dig around the pits of Facebook to find the right one for you. A number of these groups exist simpy to provide an open forum for sharing tips/tricks and posing specific makeup-related questions. Honestly, it sounds like such a group could be a very helpful and educational thing to be a part of if you’re anything like myself, but have slightly higher motivation levels to care about something you’re not going to put in your mouth later.

2. You have to wash your makeup brushes.

This epiphany was actually one I experienced mere days before this whole conversation occurred. Not to be gross, but I happened to be extremely frustrated with the state of my broke-out AF face one morning as I was swirling on mineral foundation, when all of a sudden, I paused, looked at the blending brush in my hand, and it hit me… Holy sh*t I think you’re supposed to wash these. The realization cracked over my head like a dozen eggs and ran cold and icky over my presently troubled skin, sending shivers down my spine. I confirmed this fact as we discussed what sorts of questions one might theoretically throw to a Facebook group like those mentioned above…

Turns out, many dermatologists recommend soaking your makeup brushes at least once a week. I’ll let you guess how many times in my adult life I’ve washed a makeup brush (it’s zero). Not only are unwashed brushes not great for your complexion, but a brush that is left to accrue more and more bacteria and crud is also less functional as a makeup application tool. This isn’t rocket science or anything (it makes a ton of sense), I just never thought about it.

3. Mascara isn’t forever.

Same deal, anything you’re touching onto your face every day (especially your eyes) is apt to get kinda narsty after a while. Thus, you do not want to keep touching it to your face (especially your eyes). After about 3 months, you need to say sayonara to your tube of mascara, even if you think there’s still “some left.” At this point, many claim you’re putting yourself at risk for having mites take up residence in your mascara applicator bristles, and eventually in your lovely lashes. Gross.

Thankfully, makeup companies have made it fairly easy for me to not screw this one up, because a tube of mascara typically lasts me just about 2.5-3 months. Boom. On it.

4. Buying makeup remover specifically for your eyes is a real thing adults do.

Apparently, there are people out there who do not rely on the wear and tear of daily living to remove their eye makeup for them…


JK. (Sort of.) I’ve always just rubbed the gunk off with one of those face cleansing wipes or relied on the ol’ water + fingertips combo. But again, this seems like a much better idea if you really think about it.

5. Dupes. I learned about dupes.

Never had I ever heard this term applied to makeup and I still haven’t 100% wrapped my head around it. A makeup dupe simply refers to a relatively inexpensive product that essentially does the same thing as a costly one. Basically, they’re really smart generic swaps. For example, people look for lipstick dupes so that they can rock their favorite signature shades from pricey makeup brands like MAC or Urban Decay for a fraction of what the “name brand” would cost. Genius! Now, the part that my brain doesn’t totally compute is that, in order to find the dupe, you have to be familiar enough with a given brand’s line of makeup to have favorite items and colors to begin with… and I honestly can’t imagine ever being that aware or knowledgeable about what all lines the shelves at my local Sephora.

That said, I have mad admiration for those who do. It sincerely amazes me and I think you’re magical for being able to navigate the world of applying things to your face with such skill, tact, grace, sanitary awareness, and enthusiasm. I will likely never know what that life is like. But that’s OK, we've all got our things. And if we’re being honest, I think I’m at my most beautiful when rocking a plateful (and a mouthful) of warm chocolate chunk cookies.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz