I have been obsessed with beauty products since I was a wee child. From Bonnie Bell peel-off nail polish to Wet ‘N’ Wild lipstick to Fetish perfume to absolutely everything at The Body Shop - I loved all of it. From childhood through college, there wasn’t a gimmick I didn’t buy into or a supposedly life-changing product I declined to try. Although now I’ve settled into a fairly regular routine, I still love experimenting with all the different ways I can have fun with my face and body. Never one for simplicity, I use a bevy of products on a daily basis and I love recommending the ones that work.
I almost always shower in the morning, because my hair is fine but slightly wavy and if I sleep on it wet I wake up looking a flaming mess. I get up, brush my teeth, and use dermaDoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ facial cleanser before hopping in the shower. I recommend this to anyone with acne problems; it was introduced to me by a friend and there’s something about the fact that you put it on your dry face that, I don’t know, works some kind of crazy magic. When I’m using it regularly it keeps my acne problems well at bay.
I read somewhere when I was a kid that changing up your hair cleansing products is good for your hair - I have done no actual research on this and have no idea if it’s really true, but, like many of us, it’s a habit I haven’t cared to break. Right now I spend days alternating between Lush’s purple Daddy-O shampoo - for my light blonde hair - with Sebastian Drench conditioner, and Nexxus Color Assure shampoo and conditioner. The Lush stuff makes my hair super soft and shiny, but isn’t a strong cleanser; if I really need to wash a lot of oil or sweat or product out, I use the Nexxus which works just fine. Once a week I use L’Oreal Professional Vitamino Color gel-masque to keep my color vibrant; I’m still not really sure if it’s a conditioner but it makes my hair real silky. I use a conditioning masque whenever I feel like I need it, but again, the product changes depending on what I feel like and how much money I’m willing to drop. Right now I’m trying to use up this Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, although it only really does the job if you do the full thirty-minute treatment.
I have very mild eczema - more on that later - so for body wash I use CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. It’s unscented and silky and I just rub it on with my hands. If I really want the decadence of a soapy lather, I’ll use Lush’s jasmine and honey-scented Flying Fox shower gel. And a few months ago I got a large sample of L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil, which I absolutely love. If I didn’t have to use the CeraVe every day, I would absolutely shell out for the full-size almond oil - which I still might do, because I’ve found a few drops of it in a hot bath is simply delightful. It leaves my skin feeling clean, soft, and moisturized but never greasy.
To finish, I wash my face with CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. This might seem like overkill, but I only put the dermaDoctor stuff on my nose and chin area, where I’m most prone to breakouts, and this cleanser keeps the eczema bumps from popping up. It’s super gentle and good for removing any lingering traces of makeup from under my eyes.
Forgive me while I proselytize for a moment. A few months ago, I discovered Western Razor Co. and bought myself a safety razor. You can read about the benefits on the website, but if there is one thing that I can recommend, it’s that you buy a safety razor. Sure, they look scary. Sure, you might give yourself a few minor cuts at first, the same way you did when you were a kid learning how to shave. But holy hell is it worth it. Not only is the razor itself low-cost and sturdy (it’s made of stainless steel, so even with the most minimal care it’ll last forever) but refill blades cost next to nothing so you literally never have to worry about using each of those overpriced Gillette Venus Five-Blade Divine whatever for as long as possible until they start rusting and you absolutely can’t stand it anymore. I bought a pack of 100 Astra blades on Amazon for a little over ten dollars and I change it every two to three uses.
Cost-effectiveness aside, my safety razor also gives me the best shaving experience I’ve ever had. The single, always-sharp blade in the heavy metal razor cuts the hair closer than multi-blade razors while also sloughing off dead skin, which makes your shave last longer. Although it does take some getting used to, it’s now easy for me to slather on some Trader Joe’s Honey Mango Moisturizing Cream Shave in the shower and get my legs done while the conditioner soaks, and I don’t cut myself anymore. However, one of my favorite new things to come about from my safety razor purchase is a wonderful treat yo’ self ritual. I’m a big bath person, so if I have the time, I’ll draw myself a half-full bath, put on some music, and shave my legs. My friend Allen Strickland Williams, who turned me on to Western Razor Co., suggested that I explore the Proraso line of products and I’ve never looked back (sidenote: Allen is an amazing comedian and just one of the nicest, funniest, most trill feminists I know and I’m just gonna go ahead and shamelessly link to his website. He is so choice; I highly suggest checking him out and following him on Twitter and all of that modern nonsense - any dude who likes to recommend Italian shaving products to women is obviously a dude who knows what’s up). I start with Proraso Anti-Irritation Pre-Shave Cream to soften the hairs, then I use their Sensitive Skin Green Tea and Oatmeal Shaving Soap with a boar bristle brush. The brush has the double bonus of feeling amazing on your skin while also exfoliating. I bought all of these products from Amazon for about thirty dollars, and they’re lasting really well. There is some sort of magical old-fashioned luxury about shaving in the bath with a safety razor and full shave kit; sometimes I’ll do a conditioning and/or facial masque simultaneously if I’m feeling really fancy.
After all of that, it’s definitely time to moisturize. I use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream on most of my body, and Lush Lovely Jubblies on my breasts and chest and butt cheeks. Since I started using Lovely Jubblies six months ago, I’ve definitely noticed a tightening of the skin on my decollete - plus it’s scented with ylang ylang and jasmine so your sexy bits smell especially nice.
I’m almost thirty and for a long, long, too long time I didn’t moisturize my face because I was afraid it would make me break out, but I recently broke that habit. I start with Ren Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil and then a layer of Lush Vanishing Cream over that. The lavender-scented cream works okay, but I’m just using up the pot right now because, although it’s proven to be not exactly what I want in a day cream, if I buy a new product before it’s done I’ll have wasted the exorbitant amount of money I spent on it. For daytime, I use CeraVe Eye Repair Cream and then wait for all of that moisture to soak in.
While I’m waiting I do my hair. Depending on what I’m planning on doing to it my hair products change, but I almost always use some kind of Organix serum on the ends - right now it’s Brazilian Keratin Therapy. If I’m going to be blow-drying or styling it in some way, I use my coveted Sebastian Potion 9. As someone with fine hair and an aversion to hairspray, I can’t recommend it highly enough for a basic hair product that will ensure your heat-style holds while still being soft and brushable. I like to finish with Organix Weightless Argan Oil spray for more smoothness and over-all shine.
Back to the makeup table! Although, thanks to Millihelen, I’ve recently considered switching to a Make Up For Ever foundation, right now I’m still using Bare Minerals matte powder foundation in Natural. I don’t need too much coverage and it’s worked quite well for me in the four years I’ve been using it. If I need it I’ll use Bare Minerals concealer on spots or under the eye, although most days just the foundation does the job. For blush I either use the Bare Minerals Warmth, although a few months ago I discovered the pinker and blushier Physician’s Formula Sexy Booster Blush. It has a light scent supposedly enhanced with pheromones - like I said, I’m a sucker for a good gimmick, and it makes me feel girly and sexy. After I do my eyebrows but before I start with my eye makeup I finish with a dusting of the Bare Minerals Mineral Veil with SPF.
Eyebrows are important, you guys. I only started penciling my eyebrows a couple years ago, but as someone who has always had small, sparse brows with uneven hair growth, it was a huge game-changer. I use L’Oreal Brow Stylist Sculptor pencil for blondes, which I love because one stick has a colored pencil, brush, and transparent setting pencil so I don’t have to futz around with gels or clear mascara. Highly recommend.
My eye makeup varies widely depending on what I’m wearing and/or doing that day, although I always start with Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion. If I’m using eyeshadow it’s almost always Physician’s Formula Warm Nude Shimmer Strips palate with a three-shade contour over lightly lined upper and lower lids, but lately I’ve mostly been doing the top lid two-liner cat-eye you can see in the photos. I start with Benefit’s They’re Real! Push-Up Liner which is amazing - it’s a gel liner with an angled tip, so it makes it easy to get both the fine lines and evenly symmetrical wings that someone like me, with very little experience in the liquid liner game, desperately needs. Over that I use a fine line of Sephora brand liquid liner, sometimes in gold or green, but the azure blue is my favorite. I’ve never been one for a natural look, though sometimes I’ll just toss on some brown pencil liner and mascara if I’m in a rush.
Before I put on mascara, I spray my face with Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray - I keep a small Japanese fan with my brushes so I can fan my face and help it dry. If you use this after mascara it can occasionally do weird things. I love this stuff because it keeps liquid/gel liners from smudging, as they are wont to do, and really does set your foundation for the entire day. Although it can make your face a little shiny, another quick dusting with a sheer powder keeps that from being too much of a problem.
I adore mascara, and if I were to list all the mascaras I currently own or have used over the years I’d be here all day. My favorite easy drugstore mascara is L’Oreal Lash Out Butterfly, because the brush is small but winged and fans out my lashes very nicely. I have small eyes and long, pale lashes so mascara can make quite a difference. I know some people don’t like tubing mascaras, but I’ve been using Blinc for six months and I love it the most. It makes my lashes crazy long and full, never itches or smears, and only comes off when I want it to - and, as opposed to when I wear waterproof mascara, I don’t have to use greasy eye makeup remover, which I absolutely can’t stand. I’ll occasionally use a white shadow on my waterline, and then put Blinc on both my upper and lower lashes.
I have very little consistency when it comes to lips. Because my eyes are almost always heavily made up, I tend to shy away from a bold lip, though recently I’ve been having some fun experimenting with that, using Sephora waterproof lip liner in Sangria and Bite’s High Pigment Pencil in Quince. My absolute favorite lip brand is Bite, because all of their products make my lips feel better and healthier after I wear them. My lips can get really dry, and I love Bite’s Agave Lip Mask if I need to infuse some serious moisture. Most days I stick with a soft pink like the Sephora Color Reveal Lip Balm, though often I forget to put lip color on at all. Here you can see the Sephora balm, naturally adapting to my body’s pH or whatever magic it claims to do. I prefer a tinge of color or a bright matte to anything too glossy or sticky.
Then I go about my day, refreshing as needed!
Like I said, I’m big into baths. I’ve long loved Epsom salt baths, but I’ve been looking for a decent bubble bath for years with very little luck. But the Dr. Teal’s Milk and Honey salts and foaming bath are a godsend. They’re moisturizing, with a light, clean scent, and bubbles that last for days. Besides, they come super cheap.
Before bed, I wash my face with a Peter Thomas Roth Moisture Infusion Facial Bar that I’ve been replenishing for years through various stays at Hilton Hotels. I use some sort of cleansing wipe (lately Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths) to remove any additional makeup. Until a month or so ago, unless I needed to put on some sort of zit treatment (I like Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion and Drying Cream) that was it. But I decided it was time to start getting serious about my facial skin care, so I went to Sephora and dropped a ton of dough on some quality products. Although I know I could probably find something equally good for less money, the investment is the motivation I needed to force myself into making this new nighttime ritual a habit. I use the Ren Serum again on my face and neck (don’t forget the neck!), followed by Ren Firm and Lift Eye Cream and Ren V-Cense Revitalizing Night Cream.
If I’m going to be sleeping over with someone I’m looking to impress and don’t want to wake up looking like a bedraggled nightmare but still want to take care of my skin, I’ve got a process for that, too. Oh, sure, we all want someone who loves us with or without makeup, but sometimes, say, if you are a person who gets serious anxiety-induced insomnia, it’s better to not be trying to fall asleep in someone else’s bed when you’re worrying that you’re going to break out because you didn’t wash your face or that you’re going to wake up with raccoon eyes and a big, red, beard-burn goatee. In the early days of a relationship, it can be really good for your confidence if you can wake up in the morning feeling just as gorgeous as the night before. The Blinc mascara is good for this - it won’t smudge or come off until you wash it off with water - but I recommend just some basic facial wipes and Bare Minerals Pure Transformation Night Treatment. It’s a light, dry-cleansing and moisturizing powder that’s good for your skin and will even out blotchiness or red tones and supposedly “reduce pores” and “increase luminosity”. At $60 a pop it’s not cheap, but I’ve had mine for a couple years and it’s still going strong. The small pot has a brush built into the lid, so you can just dash into the bathroom, swipe some on your face, and not feel like you’re being insecure or high-maintenance.
Oooooooh I just absolutely love beauty products.