Beauty Crush: Penélope Cruz in 'Volver'

penelope cruz volver

If you were to look at any of my study abroad photos from the months I spent in Madrid my junior year of college, you would notice two very visible themes. One, I exhaustively documented every instance that my roommate and I ate chocolate con churros, and two, I was regrettably heavy-handed with the eyeliner.

What is studying abroad for if not to understand life truths, however belatedly? This isn't Eat Pray Love, but I now know I cannot be Penélope Cruz in Volver...and walking in on your host mother using the bidet stays with you longer than the excessively photographed pastries ever will. You live, you learn, and you have yet to wear the tie-up espadrilles you bought six years ago for nine euros.

One of my group's first outings was seeing the PETA advocate in the Almodovar film, and truthfully, even though I've seen a repeat viewing on American soil, the only thing I remember about the movie is how effortlessly put-together Cruz was, as a housewife-turned —well, I don't want to spoil it—with sexpot-lined eyes and voluminous hair.

I'd like to blame my faulty memory on the language discrepancy and unshakeable jet lag, but I'll be straightforward, it's all a little hazy. There was borderline Benadryl abuse on my part at the time, thanks to unrelenting congestion and neighbors whose nighttime ritual was a little more riotous than mine. No matter: the plotlines and dialogue escaped my comprehension, but her classic, thrown-together look stuck with me. It just looked so easy, simple enough for me to attempt every morning as part of my once-minimal routine. And so I did, but not well: like the pastries I ate too frequently, moderation was not a comfortable concept for me at the time.

mason pearson brush maybelline eyeliner

Since returning stateside and losing 75% of my Spanish speaking skills in the years since, I've swapped Benadryl for Biotin, but Cruz's Volver aesthetic is something I've returned to on more than one occasion.

Fortunately, I've become a little more deft with the hand-eye coordination and know my way around a brush, but it is still very much a process. I swear by Maybelline's Eyestudio Lasting Drama gel eyeliner in Blackest Black and a solid bristle brush like Mason Pearson Pocket Mixture Brush. I'm still quite clueless when it comes to follicle maintenance, but if I blow-dry my hair upside down—thank you, 1996 issue of Seventeen Magazine—after applying a little Garnier mousse, I'm ever so closer to gaining some volume.

Just as helpful? Skipping the shampoo altogether and rubbing a little baby powder (I have blonde hair) in. Add a quick swipe of a bold lip, and there's still time to kill your husband and stash the body in a freezer with the help of your daughter.

I've said too much.