Annebeth Bels combines beauty and brains—literally—on The Styling Dutchman, where the PhD researcher writes about the intersecting worlds of makeup, style, and feminism. Smart, engaging, and way better at applying eyeshadow than most people we know (seriously, she’s a pro), Annebeth’s daily documentation makes us feel like we’re hanging out in Belgium right there with her.
While we may feel like we’re walking a mile in her & Other Stories booties, we can’t help but want to know more about her approach to beauty in her neck of the woods. Annebeth lives in a small town in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, but she commutes every day to a university in Antwerp to work on her PhD. That means that she experiences both what she describes as the “small-town quiet” of her town and the hustle and bustle of the nearby city—and the beauty trends and habits that go along with each.
We talked to Annebeth about all things beauty, from the decade currently inspiring Belgian trendsetters to the preconceived notions they have about American style (and teeth)—and the brow product she recommends to everyone.
On the Beauty Products That Are (or Aren’t) Unique to Belgium:
“With brands expanding across the world, I feel like most of what we have in a small country like Belgium is similar to what people in the ‘trendsetting’ countries like the U.K. and the U.S. have, with some influences from France thrown in for good measure. No special secrets there, I’m afraid!”
The Beauty Trends That Belgian Women Can’t Get Enough Of:
“The whole ’90s look seems to be big among the young trendy crowd: the blunt-end, middle-parted long bob in strong colors like dark brown, burgundy, or platinum blonde, paired with a dark red or brown statement lip color, bold brows, lots of mascara, and flawless, matte skin. I’ve also noticed many women I meet wearing YSL’s Black Opium, but that might be because I’m partial to the scent so I always notice it when someone wears it.”
On the Belgian Woman’s Signature Beauty Look:
“Belgian women favor a natural look. Many of my friends and colleagues don’t wear foundation, or only wear a BB cream. Hardly any of them regularly wear eyeshadow, let alone get into contouring or bold lip colors. People like a fresh-faced look here, and that even goes for most workplaces. Belgium isn’t a very formal country when it comes to style.”
On Beauty Clichés:
“My impression from the typical U.S. look is that people are more put together, more ‘finished.’ There’s this cliché of people from the U.S. freaking out about how yellow and uneven our teeth are, while we shudder at the unnaturally white, perfectly straight veneer look that is so associated with U.S. glamour.”
Her Favorite Place to Buy Beauty Products:
“& Other Stories is kind of my perfect store. They regularly introduce new beauty products that feel very fresh rather than like a copy of what you can already find in drugstores. Their eyebrow cream is amazing, for example—I recommend it to everyone! It has made my eyebrow game so much stronger, and reduced the time I need to spend to get them just perfect.” (Good news: & Other Stories launches beauty stateside this month.)