Unlikely Beauty Muse: Salvatore, My Seahorse Tattoo

My grandmother inspired my seahorse tattoo, and my seahorse tattoo often inspires my makeup and hair. Also: side boob!

Do you believe in spirit animals? Mine’s a wolf, I think.

My grandmother’s is a seahorse. Nonna Genny grew up next to the beautiful Adriatic Sea, in a picturesque town steeped in witchy traditions and eccentricity. It was there that she first encountered her treasured seahorse.

When I was little, she gave me a preserved seahorse. I used to stare at that thing for hours. It had the most beautiful shape. It was intricate, delicate, and a little sad. Also, it was a horse of the sea and mermaids ride them in underwater adventure tales -- WHAT!

I love seahorses because they’re romantics who mate for life and change colors as they dance with each other, interlacing their coiled tails. I love them because the female impregnates the male and he carries the babies. I love them because they’re unique and odd looking. I love them because they can’t swim that well and hold onto objects with their tails in strong currents. I love them because they are underwater karma chameleons that can turn all sorts of gorgeous colors when they want or need to.

Mostly, though, I love them because my grandma did.

She was diagnosed with dementia in her early 50s, and since then, the decline in her mental health has been rapid and heartbreaking. She’s there in body, but her spirit usually doesn’t seem to be. A once beautiful, kind and jovial woman--and a FIERCE cook--she’s now a bit like the preserved seahorse she gave me. She doesn’t exist in the same way.

To honor my Nonna Genny, a few months ago, I had a little blue, green and aquamarine seahorse with pink accents tattooed on my side. His name is Salvatore and I love the shit out of him. I think my Nonna would, too.

I love Sal so much that, sometimes, I want to look like him. He stirs up so much watery whimsy in me, my Pisces Moon and Venus signs can hardly handle it.

I often wear a nod to my little underwater friend by putting a bit of seafoam or teal eye shadow at the corners of my eyes. Other times, I go for a bolder look, which is what I did for this post.

For my eyes, I wet my MAC Small Angle Brush 266 and saturated it in Jewel Blue MAC Eyeshadow, a dark bright teal "lustre" eyeshadow, and lined my eyes close to the lash line. I went over this on the top, and lightly on the bottom, with Surreal, a frosted luminescent seafoam shadow, using MAC’s Tapered Blending Brush 224 and then swept the lighter color across my lids. I finished by finger-dotting MAC’s Forgery, a super sparkly white, in the corners of my eyes.

Sometimes MAC likes to ruin my life by discontinuing their products, and both Jewel Blue and Surreal are gone. NOOOO! To be fair, I’m an eyeshadow hoarder and have probably had them for at least five years.

Comparable colors are Electric Eel, which is a satin and can be used as a faux liner with the angle brush, and Aquadisiac, which would be the lighter accent color. Parrot also looks really pretty… aaaaand now I need to get to MAC, STAT.

I wanted the lashes to be dramatic, but still sort of natural looking, so I finished by applying Dolce & Gabbana Intenseyes Black Intensity Mascara. I put a coat on my bottom lashes, too. I don’t usually do this, but I think it works with the fanciful teals.

I wanted a soft pink look on my lips, so I lined my lips with MAC’s Dervish Lip Pencil, a subtle pinky color, and then applied Fresh Sugar Rose tinted lip treatment.

Finishing off the face, I used Benefit High Beam highlighter under my eyes, because my dark circles are especially bad lately. Thanks, allergies!

(I have "Under The Sea" stuck in my head as I write this, by the way. OMG my eyes match Ariel’s tail! And the baby seahorses are the cutest. “Each little snail here know how to wail here, that’s why it’s hotta under de wata…” I love it. But let’s be real. Ariel gave up the ability to live and breathe in an underwater paradise for a vagina and a guy who obviously wasn’t so bright. Priorities.)

I wanted my seahorse-inspired hair to look breezy and mermaidish, and to also mimic the beautiful curves of the seahorse’s body. My hair is naturally wavy, but I didn’t want it to full-on curl, so I scrunched it when it was nearly dry and added a small amount of mousse to the ends for the light, watery waves to hold.

If your hair isn’t wavy and you’re into this look, put a small amount of mousse into damp hair, then twirl largish sections of your hair around your finger lightly before loosely pinning them up with bobby pins. Wait 20 minutes or so before you take them down (if your hair is really stubborn, wait longer).

When you take it down, reapply the mousse or a curl-enhancing product of your choice. I like TIGI Bead Head Foxy Curls Extreme Curl Mousse, but any mousse will do. I just don't use the “extra hold” mousses to scrunch my hair with because they sometimes leave it feeling crunchy, and crunchy hair is pretty thumbs-down.

I wanted to complete my look by painting my nails with Essie’s Turquoise and Cacaos, but I thought that would be taking things overboard. Har har!

Do you feel like going to the beach yet? I do. Are there tattoos, sea creatures, or both, that you draw inspiration from while getting ready?