I get a fair few questions about my makeup routine. Truthfully, I can’t say that I have a ‘routine’ per se – primarily because I see makeup as a fun adventure every morning and I usually go with whatever suits my mood on a given day. But, I have a few tried and true cosmetics that I reach more more often than others and I definitely have a few favorite brands. So, I thought I’d take the mystery out of my makeup routine and share my makeup must-haves.
Like most sparkle-loving gals I know, I have a bathroom cabinet stocked to high heaven with what feels like every product known to man. I decided to take advantage of my Christmas break and attack my stash, trying to weed out things that were past their prime or that I simply didn’t use. The process was not only good for feng shui-ing life, it also shined a very bright light on my tried-and-true favorites that are held in special reverence. I’ve got a (by no means comprehensive) list below, with links to the items where possible. With some glitter and a flourish, here’s a roundup of my beauty favs:
I know a lot of people have a fairly complicated prep routine – but, as a gal who has pretty sensitive skin who never wears foundation, I keep my prep fairly simple. The most important ingredient in most of my prep materials – SPF. I’m so pale sometimes I’m practically translucent, so protection is generally my #1 priority.
Makeup Remover/Cleanser: LANCÔME Bi-Facial – I like to be nice to my skin, and though I clean my face at night, I also always do a quick cleanse in the morning to get any makeup I may have missed from the night before.
Toner: LANCÔME Tonique Confort – this is a godsend for all ladies who find normal toners dry out their skin. Seriously, I’m in love with this stuff. We cannot be parted.
Face Moisturizer: I’ve tried many, I’ve strayed to more expensive brands, but I’ve always come back to Oil of Olay Total Effects. I’ve used Oil of Olay since I was probably about 13, and I will probably use it until I’m 93. I have very sensitive skin that is very prone to sunburn. so, I always reach for a moisturizer that has SPF. Though I switched from Olay Complete (SPF 15) in my teen years to Oil of Olay Total Effects (SPF 15) nowadays, this is absolutely 100% my favorite tried and true brand.
Tinted Moisturizer: As I said above, I really don’t wear foundation. If I do reach for something that has a bit of coverage, it’s usually tinted moisturizer or a BB Cream. I tried several, but invested in the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 while back and am a huge fan (I use the shade Porcelain. Kind of says it all really).
BB Cream: I got the LANCÔME Christmas box last year, and it came with the UV Expert BB Complete (SPF 30), and I really love it. Like really love it. I found the light shade was a bit too grey for me, and despite my whiter-than-whitebread complexion, the Light to Medium works really well.
Brightener: I found this magic little pot of purple goodness a few years ago – it’s amazing for brightening up undereyes, the cupids bow, or the bridge of your nose: the Sally Hansen All Over Brightener. When trying to find a link for you all, I nearly cried to learn it was discontinued…
Primer: Although I don’t wear foundation, I generally use some sort of undereye brightener or concealer on most days, so I always start with a bit of primer under my eyes. Truthfully, primer seems to be the thing I get a zillion samples of, so I bounce between them a lot. But a new one that appeared in my Christmas stocking this year that I like a lot: Smashbox Photofinish Hydrating Undereye Primer. It has a bit of a pearlescent tone to it, which primes and brightens at the same time.
Undereye Concealer: I have terrible allergies and have always had pretty dark undereye circles. When it comes to concealers, I have tried them all. Lotions, potions, coverups, sheer, heavy, sparkle. You name it. My undereye circles have waged war on every product out there. I have ended up with two favorites: LANCÔME Effacernes waterproof long-lasting underage concealer (in light buff) and Makeup Forever Lift Concealer #1 (pink beige). Both give great coverage with a bit of shimmer. I’ve actually found and fallen in love with the BeautyBlender for applying underage concealer – perfect shape and gets right into the crease of my eye.
Undereye Brightener: When you can’t conceal, add some shimmer! That’s my philosophy anyway. As per usual, my hunt was long and tiresome. But, whenever I am traveling to far flung destinations, I always to a stop in at Duty Free for my very favorite Estee Lauder Idealist cooling eye illuminator (light-medium) – it even FEELS good going on, with a cool ceramic tip. When I have no travel plans, YSL Touch Eclat is also a tried and true favorite.
Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you always need the proper tools. I went through a ton of different makeup brushes over the years and would invest now and again in a really good one. I’ve really found what works well for me (particularly as I like powder shadows and a LOT of blending) and can’t imagine going back to any other brushes.
- Blush Brush: Avon
- Smudge Brush: NARS #45
- Liquid Eyeliner Brush: NARS #9
- Crease Brush: NARS #42
- Wet/Dry Brush: NARS #49
- Small Crease Brush: NARS #44
- Eyeshadow Brush: Sephora Professional Shadow brush #12
To Highlight and Contour
Blush: NARS blush in Orgasm. I don’t know how they do it, but I swear this shade looks amazing on everyone! I have a plastic bin full of blushes of every shade and shimmer level imaginable, but the one I reach for most often is my NARS.
Bronzer: NARS bronzer in Laguna. Again, how did they make a bronzer that suits everyone? I’m the palest of the pale, and this is perfect. I’m not a huge fan of super shimmery bronzer on my face, and I absolutely love this one.
Highlight: My two favorite products for all things highlight is Benefit High Beam (more of a liquid highlight) and Benefit Watt’S Up! Soft Focus Highlighter. High Beam is the most beautiful blush shade, with a lovely shimmer (but not too much glitter) and I use it to highlight my cheekbones. Watt’S Up has more of a gold hue to it and I tend to use it on my brow bone. A few quick swipes and I’m done!
For the Eyes
As the windows to the soul, it’s only natural we go to great lengths to play up our eyes. When I was little, I always loved that I was the only one between me, my mom, and my sister that had blue eyes. It took me awhile to realize the best way to compliment them wasn’t electric blue eyeshadow, however…
Eyeshadow Primer: Hands down, Too Faced Shadow Insurance takes the cake on this one. I’ve tried a range of others, but nothing really compares. Personally, I love the Lemon Drop version, which is a shadow primer but also evens out my skin tone. These really keep the eyeshadow where it belongs and helps to minimize creasing.
Eyeliners: Probably one of the most fun parts of my makeup kit – I have an array of eyeliners in fun colors. I love to use them as a pop color to contrast an outfit or to give my day a little extra pizazz – and what day couldn’t use some extra pizzazz?
1. Urban Decay 24-7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Vevo – this is my favorite tool to use in the inside corners of my eyes.
2. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in periwinkle: When I was in Kindergarten we would all get a box of crayons at the start of the year and my favorite was always Periwinkle. I loved it so much that I never used it, but let it sit pristine in the box. I nearly burst with excitement when I saw that crayon realized in eyeliner form.
3. NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Campo De’ Fiori: A beautiful, soft gold. My go-to every day color.
4-6. Urban Decay 24-7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Asphyxia, LSD, and Freak: My favorite brand of eyeliners for fun pop colors. They glide on really smooth without any eyelid pulling and are super pigmented.
Black Eyeliner: I think this needs its own category, particularly as I have tried pencils, gels, liquids, in a pot, in a tube, in a self-sharpening stick and everything in between to find the perfect black eyeliner. Here are my tops:
1. NARS eyeliner Stilo in Carpates: A great, deep black with a fine tip, perfect for making wings at the corners of my eyes.
2. Too-Faced 3-way Lash Lining Tool: This is amazing for dotting in between my lashes. The tip of the pen actually has three small tips, so you can get in between your lashes and make them appear thicker without a heavy line.
3. Tarteist Clay Paint Liner in black: Of all of the clay liners I’ve tried, this formula is the perfect mix of being smooth and blendable, but also has staying power. It also comes with the perfect angled liner brush for application.
4. e.l.f. expert liquid liner in Jet Black: This appeared in my Christmas stocking this year and I’m excited to give it a go. Stay tuned for an update…
Eyeshadow: I have more eyeshadows can I care to list here, but I have a few most recent favorites:
1. NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Cordura: I listed this shade because it’s the one I wear most often, but NARS makes my absolute favorite eyeshadows and I have quite a few duos (Kauai, Bouthan and South Pacific are also really beautiful).
2. Narsissist Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow Palette: Huge color payoff and looks equally amazing wet as dry. I tend to use them dry during the day for work and go bolder with a wet brush if we’re heading out at night.
3. Too Faced Vegas Nay Stardust Palette: This one blew up in the blogosphere and I was lucky enough to snag one when I did, because they’re nearly sold out everywhere. I found a few here, though they are definitely asking a high price now that they’re so hard to find. If you do get your hands on one, the whole palette is just beautiful and I love the mix of peaches, violets, and gold. You can see it in action in this post.
Mascara: I love a strong, thick set of lashes. I don’t usually apply fake lashes, so I expect my mascara to do some heavy lifting. Benefit “They’re Real!” and Too Faced “Better than Sex” are definitely my go-to mascaras at the moment. Both are super black and give me good lash definition without clumping.
Though they discontinued it, Benefit Bad Gal blue is incredible, and they’ve replaced it with the Beyond Blue version of Benefit “They’re Real!” which I haven’t tried but have no doubt I will love.
For the Lips
Sometimes a red lip can brighten up even the most grey of days. As a full-time lip smoosher, I am always on the lookout for moisturizing lipsticks that won’t wear out on me. For lip conditioning (it’s a bit weird), my secret is actually Neosporin. Yeah, the antibiotic ointment. For years, I’ve put a bit of Neosporin on my lips every morning and every night (a trick my best friend taught me), and I’m happy to say I tend to be (for the most part) crack-lipped free.
Lip Liner: After years of buying every shade of lip liner known to man, I discovered the world’s greatest invention: Clear lip liner. The Urban Decay Glide on Lip Pencil in Clear (#1) has changed my life: No need to match colors anymore and it helps keep my lipstick in place and prevents feathering. All other lip liners begone!
Lipgloss: I have an obsession with lip glosses. Like most ladies, I have about 8,001 shades of lipgloss and I always feel compelled to buy more – even if it’s just because it’s a microscopically lighter shade of pink or has blue tinted glitter where all the ones I own have gold tinted glitter. But, I have a few I reach for more often than the rest (particularly cause they all manage to be shiny without being sticky):
2. NARS lip gloss in Chihuahua
3. LANCÔME Gloss in Love #144 Glittermania
4. Dior Addict Ultra Gloss #654 Pink Veil
Lip stain: No matter what goes on my list, my favorite lipstain Benetint goes on first. There are a lot of lip stains out there, but this one has always been the most natural on me – with the added bonus of smelling like roses.
Lipstick: I really don’t suit brown or berry-toned lipsticks (and quite a few got the boot in my make-up drawer purge). But, I love all manner of reds, pinks, and oranges. I’ve found these to have great pigment and staying power, without drying out my lips:
7. NARS Sheer Lipstick in Manhunt: A perfect sheer day red
8. NARS Satin Lipstick in Niagara: An antique pink
At this stage, I usually just dash out the door. But, when I want a little more staying power with my makeup, I have a few final products I use to make sure my hard work doesn’t go to waste.
Finishing Powder: I’m a bit partial to this Besame Cosmetics Violet Brightening Powder I came across a few years ago, which has a purple hue to it. I swear, it balances out any redness and keeps my make-up set all day.
Pressed Powder: Covergirl Clean Pressed Powder in classic ivory – I’ve used this since I was 16. It’s perfect to set lipstick and I usually run a bit around the edges of my mouth to prevent feathering.
Setting Spray: Urban Decay Chill Cooling and Hydrating Makeup Setting Spray – I don’t use this every day, but when I’m going out for a night on the town, this stuff is magic for keeping makeup in place. I like to avoid the whole raccoon eyes look after a night of dancing…
Makeup remover: And at the end of the day, when it needs to all come off, a gal needs to turn to her trusty make-up remover so she can go to sleep and wake up to start the work all over again. As I said above, the one I keep coming back to is LANCÔME Bi-Facial. It removes everything really easily and doesn’t leave my face feeling greasy. When I can’t shell out the cash, I’ve also always really liked Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover.
Night Cream: RoC Multi Correxion Lift Anti-Gravity Night Cream – I fought it for a while, but a gal has to get her night cream on. As religious as I was about moisturizing in the morning, I was pretty bad about night creams, but those wrinkles aren’t going to fight themselves. They don’t sell this in Australia, so every time I go home I stock up. It does wonders for my skin and I’m a total night cream convert.
It’s crazy, but when you put it in a list like that it looks like an awful lot! Truthfully, I can go for the 5 minute face some mornings, and others I like to play for ages and just have fun with it. Make-up is another form of expression – I sort of treat it as another accessory. I’ll either go for bright eyeliner as my pop color or keep it neutral if I’m in a bright and vibrant outfit. But no matter what your makeup routine, the best thing you can put on your face is a smile…
If you have any questions on any of the products above, don’t hesitate to ask!
What are your favorite cosmetics that you can’t live without?