bare escentuals

On Reading vs. Throwing Shade

* Content Warning: normally I make fun of everything, or mostly make fun of things I truly love, but shit is about to get mean up in here.

A lot of people think that cosmetic salespeople rely on insulting their clientele or stoking a person’s insecurity in order to make a sale. By and large, this is not true, though I have seen it from time to time, and I’m routinely shocked to see it work. People do what works for them, and this tactic may work if you have an appropriate target, but I could NEVER. First of all, it’s risky. Second of all, I’m pretty sure I’m too nice a person for that… But I’m really not that nice.

There have been times when I’ve subtly thrown shade at my customers and instances where I’ve “read” them, which I totally did this weekend. I can’t help it, I’m human. When it’s my whole job to educate people on HOW IT DO, yet people DON’T and then act like they know better than me, it’s hard to maintain complete composure.

For he uninitiated (read: you don’t watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, and you confuse Paris is Burning with like, a Gerard Depardieu movie), a quick primer on “shade” and “reading”: First of all, I guess it’s appropriate for me, a straight white girl, to explain this, since the New York Post did an infographic on How to Twerk featuring a goddamn skinny white bitch with no hips, no ass, and no bodyfat. I think I almost got a nosebleed from looking at the thing, because FUCK YOU, “postracial” America, SO HARD.

Anyway, “throwing shade” is where you insult someone in kind of a roundabout way. It is a subtle artform when done well. A famous case is Adele throwing shade at Katy Perry saying, “I don’t rely on tits to have hits.” Though, clearly, Adele possesses formidable mammaries. My current favorite flavor of shade is, in Madonna: Truth or Dare, when Madonna arrives in Paris and says, “They don’t even allow Zsa Zsa Gabor in this hotel.” and when someone asks why, she says, “Because she’s a cochon.”

THIS is the bitch who tries to tell ME what’s what.

I usually only throw shade at customers who tan, because they’re generally the worst. What with their asking to be matched in foundation in the same breath they say they’re about to get darker. My canned response, “Well, I can’t match a color I can’t see…” has blown more than a few UV-addled hamster brains. I also like to allude to the exorbitant cost of buying several colors of foundation several times a year, implying that my charge is a vain idiot (hint: we’re all vain idiots). They usually never pick up on the fact that I’m insulting them, so I’m either doing it right, or doing it so very, very wrong. Either way, it’s less fun after having done it approx. 1 million times.

“Reading” is when you tell some bitch about her ass, to her face. I had the pleasure of doing so this weekend. A mom was in the store buying Bare Minerals makeup for her tween daughter, like you do when you don’t know shit about shit. And she was all, “blah blah blah, my daughter is breaking out,” (she wasn’t) like you do when you don’t know shit about shit, and I was all breaking down how to wear makeup while dealing with acne.


I really don’t want to get too in depth on why Bare Minerals isn’t the best choice for someone so young (12) or anyone for that matter, but the basic idea is that BM (no coincidence that this is also the abbrev. for “bowel movement”) dries your fucking skin out and clogs the shit out of your pores. Mostly because Basic Bitches don’t moisturize to begin with, not that it would save their skin from what we in the biz call “The Devil’s Dust,” Also, most people don’t use the primer that comes with BM, which would provide more skin protection and ensure better coverage without caking the shit on. Not to mention that the stuff is not that intuitive to apply (there are like 6 different steps just to do basic complexion but just because the infomercials say it’s “easy,” people believe it) and most users take those spiky-ass brushes and grind the stuff so deep into their pores that they give themselves contact dermatitis (multiply that over 20 years, and it’s pretty apparent how cosmetic salespeople can identify a diehard BM user at 50 paces… Because they all look like Aileen Wuornos. BURN). I think the only consumer product on the market that is used improperly more often is birth control, and that is SAYING SOMETHING.


I explain that she probably has acne in part because she doesn’t moisturize (he eyes widen, because she hadn’t told me this herself. Yet, because we were standing in the BM aisle, which is cosmetic store geographical shorthand for “This Person is Clueless,” I knew), and that if she wanted this makeup to work for her, she  was going to have to start using some damn moisturizer. “Also,” I said, looking from mother to daughter, “the other reason why BM maybe isn’t the best choice for you is because Bare Minerals users don’t wash their brushes.” At this point, the mother exclaimed proudly, like you do when you don’t know shit about shit, “That’s me! I never wash my brushes!” Yeah. I know you don’t. You use Bare Minerals and are therefore totally frumpy and bobo as hell. Congratulations, you’ve been read.

Here is a picture of some dirty makeup brushes. See all of the chunks of calcified makeup, skin cells and bacteria clinging like a lice infestation inside that black powder brush? Multiply that by 20, break most of the bristles off halfway to the ferrule, and color the whole mess Medium Beige and that’s what years-old BM brushes look like. The things I’ve seen I can never un-see.

So the woman asked me to explain how to wash makeup brushes (I know), bought the makeup for her poor daughter (because there is no talking a BM lover out of the brand. They’re married to it, and they spread it to their loved ones like it’s an MLM scheme or a fucking cult), and went on her merry way, probably to continue a life of creating warring bacteria colonies in her makeup bag. This is why I don’t allow Bare Minerals users in my hotel. Because they are cochons.