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Throughout the 11 years that my husband and I have been together, the man has helplessly sat by and watched his beauty writer wife emerge from the bathroom blitzed by trends (I'm especially sorry for fur nail art). But despite how many amazing products I get to try and celebrity stylists I've had the pleasure of meeting, I can count on one hand the number of times my husband has actually noticed any difference I've made to my appearance. And when your hair has been touched by George Papanikolas, the same stylist who works his magic on Kim Kardashian, that kind of sucks.
Based on my conversations with more than a few of my friends in relationships, I've found my situation is not the expect but the norm. Most men are positively clueless when it comes to beauty changes. The question is: just how clueless? To find out, I changed 5 things about myself, from minor to kind of major tweaks, in order to test out my husband's ability to prove he could out me in a lineup.
Here's what I look like on a random weekday.
I usually wear under-eye concealer, mascara, and some kind of lip color that helps make my skin look a more healthy shade of deathly pale.
Now, let the games begin.
1. Fake Eyelashes
I have a confession to make. I'm pretty fearless when it comes to trying beauty trends, but I couldn't commit to eyelash extensions because I was scared that they would weaken my natural lashes (I'm open to hearing how I am a fool because they do look amazing on other people). Instead, I visited a Sephora in New York City, purchased House of Lashes x Sephora "Seductress" fake lashes, and waited for a lovely makeup artist to apply them to my lashes because I haven't a clue how to work lash glue. Five minutes later, I felt my new lashes like a 10-pound weight on my eyes and thought I looked a little ridiculous for 11 in the morning. The makeup artist assured me that I would get used to them and off I went to wow my husband.
My husband's reaction: When my husband walked in the door that evening, I made sure to follow him around the house like a puppy, batting my eyelashes like a damsel. He continued to tell me about a meeting he had that day and asked whether I had RSVPed to a wedding. After 30 minutes of this lunacy, I pinned him down in the kitchen.
"Notice anything different about me?" I asked. I closed my eyes slowly and then lifted my lids all seductively.
My husband tilted his head and studied my face. "Oh, your eyes? They look … what did you do? You look like a drag queen."
"Fake lashes. They're very chic. Do you like them?"
"Um." I've heard his "um" many times over the years. "I like your real eyes better. They look crazy. Fake."
"They are fake."
"Right. So, what do you want to eat tonight?"
Conclusion: My husband will never appreciate the glam effect fake eyelashes have on my eyes.
2. BTL Exilis Ultra Laser Treatment
The BTL Ultra Laser Treatment is a non-invasive device that emits both ultrasound energy and radio frequency to combat and reverse certain signs of aging that, if I'm being honest with myself, the average cream isn't going to do a hell of a lot to correct. I'm referring to skin sag that results from plain old living and that pesky little force called gravity. I am diligent about skincare, but have started to notice a bit of extra skin around my lips that I could swear wasn't there five years ago. When I met with Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified NYC dermatologist and the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist, I was excited to try the Exilis Ultra, a brand-new laser that Jaliman says is delivering amazing results to her patients and can be used to tighten the skin on any part of the body, from your face to your thighs.
During the procedure, a warm laser is applied to the area of concern, usually the jawline and jowls on the face, and the technician simply rubs the device around the area for 10 minutes on each side of the face. It was fast and painless. After 20 minutes, I could swear I noticed a slight difference in the laxity of my skin, even though I'm a realist who knows it takes several treatments to see a major difference.
My husband's reaction: I would have been shocked if my husband noticed a difference in my skin because the change was so minimal.
"Notice anything about my skin?" I asked.
"It's really shiny today," he answered.
Conclusion: I think laser treatments are some of the most awesome anti-aging procedures - the results are subtle enough, but with cumulative treatments, you see a real, gradual difference. Like all other beauty treatments and procedures, they should not be done for anyone but yourself - and especially not for men, who will never, ever notice the magic of subtle skin tightening.
3. Lip Fillers
The experience: Of all the procedures and changes I made, getting lip injections was the one that scared me most. I even cancelled my appointment with one doctor before finding Dr. Dara Liotta, a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and deciding, oh, whatever, let's do this. It was reassuring to know that, even if I hated the results, hyaluronic fillers are natural and my body would absorb them within 4-6 months.
I like my natural lips. They're already full and have a nice curve and bow at top. I was afraid of emerging from an office with "duck lips" that erase the natural shape of the top lip, but at the same time, I was curious about how fillers could create a more plump and healthy look without lipstick or gloss.
The second I sat in Liotta's office, my fear dissipated because she said these magic words: "I wouldn't do a lot on you. I'd only do the top lip. And we shouldn't use Juvederm (a heavier filler), we'll use Bolotero instead."
Liotta used half a syringe of Bolotero on my top lip (you pay for the full syringe, whether you use it or not). I'm not going to lie: It hurt like hell, even after I received shots of a numbing medication. The actual process of sculpting the filler inside of your lip is an odd sensation, as well. But the entire procedure was over in less than 10 minutes and, even though I was a little swollen, I looked like me - with slightly more defined lips.
If you're curious about lip fillers, do your homework and find a board-certified plastic surgeon whose patients aren't all sporting the same lips. Liotta is a gem precisely because she rejected my plea to plump up my bottom lip, as well. Find a doctor who is going to be honest with you and understands how to maintain the contours of your face.
My husband's reaction: Two words: Radio silence. My husband didn't mention my lips once, not even the night that I returned with a slightly swollen upper lip. This could be a testament to Liotta's expertise or it could be more proof that husbands don't notice anything, though I should mention my mother didn't notice a difference either. Your guess is as good as mine.
Conclusion: Don't believe lip filler myths. In order to achieve Kylie Jenner's beyond-pillowy results, you'd need a whole lot more filler than the average person gets. Fillers can look so natural that no one (but you) notices. Depending on your beauty goal, that could be a very good thing.
4. Contour Makeup
I somehow managed to escape the early 2010s without ever having contoured my face, which is nothing short of a miracle. After writing for years about the Kardashians' favorite makeup technique, which involves shading and highlighting areas of the face to fake better bone structure, I was sure I could master it in my sleep. Using what was probably the wrong brush, I created a "3" on the side of my face with bronze powder by PUR and glided highlighting powder over my cheekbones, the center of my forehead, and the middle of my nose. I then blended it all (or I thought I did) and kept my eye and lip makeup neutral so not to compete with what I told myself were my new, these-will-cut-glass cheekbones.
My husband's reaction: Again, I had to ask my husband to rattle off what he noticed about my face.
"There's brown under your eyes," he said. "But you only put it halfway. You purposely left off the other half."
Good try, but that's eyeliner skillfully applied to bring out my smallish eyes without overwhelming them. What else?
"Oh! I know: You have, like, brownish stripes on your face. What is that?"
I explained how contouring madness swept the western hemisphere, thanks to Kim K.
"I can tell as soon as you turn your face to the side," my husband said. "It looks normal from the front by then in your profile it looks like you have shit smeared on your face. It probably looks good in one Instagram photo, but not in real life. You look so much better natural."
Conclusion: Maybe I could buy a better blending brush and try, try again...or maybe he just thinks contouring looks like shit.
5. Faux Bangs
The experience: Of all the beauty changes I've made over the years that my husband has loathed the most, bangs are right up there at the top. He insists women with bangs think they look French and trendy, but that men just consider them a forehead curtain and wonder what we're hiding underneath all of that hair. Obviously, he has never been more wrong about anything in his life.
Anyway, I didn't want to mess up the haircut I recently got, so for the purpose of this experiment, I decided to get fake bangs. Following a tip I found online, I tied my hair up into a ponytail, pull a few pieces forward and secured them with clips, and the arranged the rest of my hair into a bun. It looked a lot more faux and a lot less bang than I would have liked, but if you're not going to commit and go all the way, you can't complain, right?
My husband's reaction: Of course, he immediately noticed because, as I mentioned, he hates bangs.
"Is that … did you cut your hair … or?"
"Do you like my new bangs?" I asked.
"When did you do that?" he asked. In my experience, it's never a good sign when someone answers your question with another question. "You always look good. I mean, you know I don't love bangs, but..."
Awkward silence. Then I decided to let him off the hook by removing my hair clips and all traces of faux bangs.
"I knew you were joking!" he said. "God, you looked weird. Please don't get bangs. You can do whatever you want with your hair, but if you get bangs, I can grow out my mustache again."
Dear God, anything but that.
Conclusion: Men don't know what they're talking about when it comes to bangs. And, yes, for better or worse, they will notice your bangs. Get them anyway. They're super cute. And chic as hell.
No matter how annoying it might be that my husband doesn't notice when I get $150 highlights or a crazy good eyebrow wax or even new freaking lips (I mean, come on), there's something comforting about knowing he isn't hung up on superficial stuff. I don't take it as an insult, I simply take it as a sign that he's going to think I look like I'm in my 30s when I'm in my 60s (right?). Also, do I really want to sit around explaining the difference between "bronde" and "caramel" to my husband? I'll enjoy my beauty experiments, and I'll be just fine knowing they're for me and only me.
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