Beauty Squad member Julia Coney is on a journey to uncover women's beauty secrets from around the world. The Washington, D.C.-based blogger kicks off the series with a personal account from the region she knows the best, the South.
I travel a lot, and throughout my expeditions I've realized that beauty is different around the world. In the South, it has a life of its own.
When it comes to Southern beauty, it's all about mission impeccable. The majority of Southern women are raised with the instructions to put their best face forward—all the time. I grew up where the right of passage to beauty was knowing the proper amount of blush needed, because you never left home without your rouge.
I was shuttled between Texas and Louisiana as a child. In Louisiana, my grandmother, a true Southern belle, made beauty a priority. In Texas, my mother had a minimal approach makeup. They both agreed on one thing, though. Pretty makeup looks better on pretty skin.
My mom in particular taught me that maintaining a healthy face was a priority and everything else was the accessory.
Today, I am always on the quest for the best products that speak to me as a Southern girl first and a global travel junkie second.
Makeup Mantra: The Beauty Trinity
I currently reside in the Washington, D.C., area, and I vividly remember the first time I went to run errands on a Saturday. I was shocked that I didn't see many women with their weekend makeup look. I had assumed all women prescribed to wearing the beauty trinity. What's the beauty trinity, you ask? That's mascara, blush and a lip product, of course. This said lip product is not a clear balm, mind you. It has to have color.
Beauty Buster: Torrid Summers
That being said, the one beauty dilemma the South faces has to be the weather. We have two seasons: hot and hotter. Take your pick. The key to maintaining a melt-proof face is to figure out which products are long-lasting and which ones to leave by the bayou-wayside.
Tanya Robertson, a Houston-based makeup artist, lives for the made-up face, despite the season. "Summer beauty means absolutely nothing to women in the South, who are known for being impeccable at all times," she says. "We have mastered the art of the perfect face. It's all about buildable coverage, starting with a little and layering your face throughout the day." Robertson recommends Mally Evercolor Poreless Face Defender for starters. She says it gives you a flawless finish without powder and can be reapplied as needed without buildup.
I also prefer products that can do double- and triple-duty. NARS The Multiple is that such product. This all-in-one is great for cheeks and lips, but can also be used on the eyes and the body. Since it has a glowy finish, it's perfect for the hotter months, when dewy and healthy-looking skin is at an all-time high.
Facial Focus: Lipstick
The highlight of any Southern girl's beauty routine is lips. Before bold lipstick became popular across the world, Southern girls were rocking the pronounced pout. And it's never been easier to dip a toe into the lipstick pond, with new formulas that have become so much more moisturizing. High on my list to try right now is the Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheer Lipstick, which is pigmented but still has a sheer finish. This lipstick is a great gateway formula into gutsier shades, and is a perfect summer-to-fall transition product.
The Crucial Cosmetic: Lashes
Lashes are the holy grail of a Southern girl's face. We like to pile them on through either individual falsies, lash strips or tons of mascara. Regardless, we never leave home without them. A new mascara to take your lashes to the next level of va-va-voom is Dolce & Gabbana Intenseyes Black Intensity Mascara. It's silky, seriously volumizing and not in the least smudgy. It's perfect for giving you a wide-eyed look.
Hair is an entity in and of itself. It goes without saying that when it comes to a Southern look, the bigger the better. Hair is often tall, wide and moveable at the same time. But due to the heat and humidity during the majority of the year, it is essential to have the tools to control frizz and promote hold. I grew up in the era of Aquanet, in which my mane was teased beyond an inch of life. Now I wear my hair naturally curly, but Southern styles should never sacrifice volume. I rely on Garnier Fructis Curl Calm Down Anti-Frizz Cream to give my curls hold, softness and depth without deflating them.
Although it might seem to take a lot of work and maintenance to channel your inner Southern belle, it doesn't. Start on a small scale. Once you've mastered a few new tricks, build one at a time from there. Just remember, it's all about being a lady first.
Are you a Southern belle, or do you know one? We'd love to hear more stories about Southern beauty.
Photos: Thinkstock; Courtesy of author; Courtesy of makeup companies.