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Scott Barnes's Blog: Beauty in Times of Tragedy

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Jesse Grant/Getty

Thanks for welcoming Scott Barnes to PEOPLE StyleWatch! The celebrity makeup artist has been hard at work lately, releasing his second book, Face to Face, and blogging for This week, he talks about beauty’s role in times of tragedy: 

This has been a really tough few weeks for me and, I’d guess, many of you. Watching the devastation caused by Sandy has been heartbreaking. For 20 years, I called New York my home, and many people very dear to my heart still live there. Having to watch from afar as they worried about what Sandy might bring — and then having to watch as they struggled to put the city back together again — put so many things into perspective.

But that brings up an important point since this is, after all, a blog about beauty: People often confuse beauty with frivolity or vanity. In the face of tragedy, it may seem silly, even cruel, to care about how we look. But is that really the best philosophy? I don’t know that it is. After all, if you’ve been reading this blog, or my books (hopefully both!), you know that I believe that makeup can be an empowering tool.

When you take the time to look your best, those are the days you feel strongest and most confident. You feel like you can go out and do anything. For that reason, I’d argue that remembering to take care of yourself in the face of tragedy — whether it’s a hurricane or any other personal loss — is extremely important. If you feel great, you automatically convey confidence to the world. It’s one small step toward picking up the pieces and getting back into life again. Taking care of yourself in even a few small ways is hugely uplifting.

Think about it for a moment. Think about when you’re really sick, and at home in your sweatpants and lying around in bed. If you never get up, you continue to feel that way — just blah. But if you get up, get in the shower and put on some real clothes and a little makeup, you start to feel like yourself again. And you deserve that much — we all do.

That said, it’s not difficult to give yourself a little boost. It doesn’t take much money or, even, running water. With just three very simple tools in your makeup bag or purse, you can give you spirits, and your appearance, a very real lift.

So I present Scott’s Emergency Essentials:

Eyelash Curler
Courtesy Sephora

An eyelash curler. You should be curling your lashes every day (especially if you’re over 35). Curled lashes can make you look years younger, even if you don’t apply mascara on top. They also make you look more awake and alert — an easy, totally natural way to give yourself a noticeable beauty boost without using any actual makeup. My favorites: Lancôme Le Curler (left, $23); Shu Uemura eyelash curler ($20); DiorShow Heat CurlHeating Lash Curler ($25).

Dry Shampoo
Courtesy Oribe

Dry shampoo. Most hairstylists I know say it’s in fact very good for your hair to avoid daily shampooing, especially if you color. With a good dry shampoo, you can go shampoo-free for up to three days. Most versions come in travel sizes, and so they’re easy to tuck into your purse for on-the-go aid. My favorites: Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray (left, $19.50 for small); Batiste Dry Shampoo ($7.99); Ojon Dry Cleansing Powder ($24).

Lip Gloss
Courtesy Bobbi Brown

Clear or slightly tinted lip gloss. A dab of shine or sheer color on your lips can make you feel worlds better, and brighten up your entire face with only a swipe. But paying mind to your lips is not just for appearances: A moisturizing gloss will help keep your lips healthy. (And dry lips will only depress you more.) My favorites: Nars lip gloss in Super Orgasm ($24); Bobbi Brown Crystal Lip Gloss (left, $18); Aquaphor ($4.29).

A few parting words: Give to the Red Cross, active in helping New York recover, if you can. Even a little bit helps. And don’t discount the power of taking care of yourself and each other — but don’t ever feel guilty about wanting to look your best, either. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a huge difference.

Take care of yourselves.

–Scott Barnes