The Foundation That Does Everything But Pay Off My Student Loans


Don’t sleep on ILIA’s True Skin Serum Foundation

Friends don't let friends miss out on all the cool, under the radar things they know about, like where to buy ultrafashionable clothes at decidedly non-runway prices or which little-known beauty brand is low key making the best highlighter around. And because we consider our readers to be like friends, we decided to gather together all our best tips in a new series: Don't Sleep on This. Check in every week to see what things we can't wait to share with you.

Growing up, my mother always advised me to never look, in her words, a "hot ass mess in these streets." Ever the perfectionist, I'd watch her in my youth (and to this day!) unapologetically put on a full face of makeup to do menial tasks, which often included things like retrieving mail from the mailbox (which, might I add, was just at an arm's length reach from our front door), going on a quick trip to the grocery store, or doing chores around the house. It wasn't that she was insecure—makeup just made her feel beautiful. And who doesn't want to feel good all day long?

But of all the makeup I watched her put on, the most alluring item of her collection was her foundation. She never went without handfuls of the stuff, buying it in bulk as if there were a global shortage of her tan flesh in liquid form. I'm not sure whether it was her initial advice to my younger self about always looking my best, or witnessing her transformation as she put her look on for the day, or the fact that applying makeup became therapeutic for me, but something along the way kick-started my own foundation addiction, and I've never really looked back.

However, unlike my mother, I have moments where I feel deeply insecure about my skin. I'm a pretty hairy woman, and I accept that for the most part—but the hair on my face, in particular, makes me feel insecure. This anxiety was exacerbated by years of picking, poking, prodding, and, yes, shaving the hair off my face. A lot of my methods were not done with a particularly gentle hand and often left me with redness, welts, and even scars, all of which resulted in a lack of confidence in my skin. 

This insecurity means that I rely pretty heavily on having foundation on me at all times—like mother, like daughter, I guess. But it's a little bit more complicated than just smoothing on some makeup in the morning, and then forgetting about it until I wash it off at night. The summer is an especially difficult time of year to wear foundation—I've had nightmarish experiences in the past that made my skin not only appear yellowing, dry, and cracked, but also caused me to break out profusely due to the overwhelming amount of dirt, sweat, and cosmetics that had seeped into my pores. 

All of these woes changed, though, when I came across a new foundation that not only makes my skin look kissed from the high heavens but has helped to heal it. Unlike foundations that I've used in the past, ILIA's True Skin Serum Foundation actually does what it says it's going to. It's noncomedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores (which in the summer is a life-saver), vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. And not only does the foundation look like my actual skin but glow-ier, but it contains ingredients that help repair the damage done to my skin by years of picking. Thanks to the soothing properties of the aloe leaf, rose hip, jojoba, and marula oils, my skin instantly appears less red upon application, meaning that it's basically a semi-natural color-corrector as well. Praise be!

Aside from doing everything but paying off my student loans, my only gripe with this foundation line is its lack of skin tone shades. But hopefully, ILIA will hop on the inclusive beauty bandwagon soon, so we can all glow on together.

ILIA, True Skin Serum Foundation, $54, available at Sephora.

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds



Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.