Let me start by saying, I am NOT a beauty blogger.
Sorry, I need to pause for a moment while my sister laughs heartily at the thought of that.
Okay, now we’re ready….wait….okay now.
My mother is a smart, loving, phenomenal woman, but she has worn very little makeup in her entire life. I’ve always relied on recommendations from friends or magazines (and most recently, Pinterest), to help guide my purchases and practices since I found out what makeup WAS in my early adolescence. Even still, my makeup routine, if you can even call it that, has been minimal at best.
A week or so ago, I posted a cry for help – I mean, a poll, of sorts – on Facebook. My question was relatively simple: What do all my beautiful friends use for makeup these days?
Little did I know, my Facebook post would receive a flurry of responses from women in my life, plus many “like” endorsements from various other friends and a handful of private messages with lengthy reactions to my query. While this “out of the woodwork” response was wonderful, I have to admit, it wasn’t tremendously helpful on a whole. The problem, perhaps not surprisingly when you think about it, was that everyone had their own, very specific routine to share. For some, Bare Minerals was the overwhelming winner, with more than one person sharing “It changed my life” sentiments. (I was a BM person for a while, but my dry skin issues caused some concern when using a purely powder series, no matter how much I moisturized and primed.) Other enthusiastic suggestions included:
- Mary Kay (primer, concealer and powder)
- Buxom (mascara and “Show Some Skin” foundation)
- Benefit (“Watts Up” highlighter, “Fake Up” for under eyes and tinted moisturizer)
- Bobbi Brown (anything)
- Cover Girl (lipsticks)
- Urban Decay (“Naked” eye shadow palettes)
- And plenty of other one-off faves
A few people suggested the department store or Sephora visit route, but I admit I already had a sizable gift card and ExtraBucks to CVS, so the drugstore won this round. I also have a bit of a reservation about the makeup counter approach, knowing that up-sells are their job. Still, I’d be very willing to try it when I’m going for individual product refills or replacements next time.
So! Based on ALL the friend feedback and copious review of reviews (as I do with everything from restaurants to windshield wipers), I settled on a whole new set of basically everything: primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer…the works. And while nothing is necessarily the most expensive or the least expensive or THE most popular, I’ve definitely been upping my face game.
Here’s what I ended up with…
Products, in order of appearance on my face:
- Clinique Moisturizers – These are oldies, but very goodies. I use either the Moisture Surge, if I’m putting it on the morning of, or the Turnaround Overnight for before bed. My skin likes these guys very much.
- Neutrogena Shine Control Primer – I’ve used primer before, but this one is a new one to me. It uses a rice protein complex and feels a tiny bit rough on my skin (like I can feel granules of something), but goes on smoothly (if that can possibly make sense). It seems to do its job well, too, which is neat.
- Covergirl + Olay CC Cream “Tone Rehab” Foundation Base – This might seem like an old lady choice, but my dry skin particularly liked the idea of a foundation swirled with additional moisturizer. This one goes on silky smooth and the ivory “105” tone seems to match my skin pretty well. A little bit goes a long way and it provides really even coverage.
- Revlon Photoready Concealer – I have never used a concealer before. This is not because I didn’t need it (#adultacne #gross), but because I always tried to solve the problems with foundation in an uneducated way. With nothing to compare it to, I know that my opinion is pretty hollow, but I find this product to be very effective and hasn’t caused any additional trouble. What a concept!
- Neutrogena Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector – This is WAY new to me (clearly, if I didn’t use concealer before, the concept of an eye-specific whatever was a laughable thought), but I’ve really liked this one. Specifically to brighten up the under-eye, as the name indicates, this goes on as liquid, oozing out of the little brush on the end, and boosted by turning the base like a lipstick. I was a little hesitant when I opened it up, but it’s proved effective and gives my eyes a little boost before shadow, mascara and whatever else for the rest of the day.
- Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Sheer Highlighting Blush – As you may be able to see in my photo, this one is another oldie, but goodie. I’m on the tail end of this particular purchase, but I’ve really loved this blush as a soft color for my cheeks, blending well and offering some color without giving me that Emmett Kelly effect. After longterm use, I would highly recommend.
- Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Natural Radiance Bronzer – New to the ranks, this one has also been a winner as of late. I stuck with what I knew in terms of brand satisfaction, although I quickly learned that the bronze version of this powder is quite dark and needs a light touch. That said, it’s worked well as I’ve tip-toed into the land of contouring. I also think it will last quite a while, if its blush cousin is any indication.
- Revlon Photoready Translucent Finishing Powder – This stuff may be translucent, but it is pure gold. I don’t even care how corny that is because I mean every word. I’ve always heard how great it is to use a finishing powder, but this stuff is phenomenal. Silky smooth and super light, yet it works like cement on my face. Weirdly, that’s a great thing. Worth every penny.
- NYC White Eyeliner Pencil – This one was mostly a cheap “gotta have it” to keep on-hand. I recently read a make-up hacks article that suggested using a white eye pencil as a base on your lid to make shadows pop. I’ve only tried this once or twice, but it seemed to make a difference. I’ll keep experimenting with this one, but it was worth it for the few bucks – if that – it cost to have in my arsenal.
- Blending Sponge – Not exactly groundbreaking, I know, but this little pink sponge has been a game-changer for me and helps blend not only my adventurous contouring blotches (still working on it), but also all my new eye tricks like the highlighter. The sponge tip allows me to blend seamlessly into the curve of my under-eye and still keep a smooth application. I’m in love with this thing, despite the fact that it looks a little like a sex toy. (Sorry sponge, but you know it’s true.)
With all the major players accounted for, I’ll quickly mention that my eye routine still has some catching up to do. I use the same eye shadow nearly every day, just in varying shapes and densities depending on the work vs. play situation. I use a standard black eyeliner and have tried a series of standard black mascaras. I have had the good fortune to use the Clinique High Impact mascara in the past and it’s a long-time favorite, but my current beauty bag resident is Cover Girl’s “Clump Crusher by LashBlast” mascara, which has been a fine companion. I don’t exactly believe or support their “200% more volume” marketing claim, but I’m not really picky when it comes to coating my eyelid locks. I haven’t met a mascara I didn’t like, but perhaps I’m just lucky.
Now, with much humility, I’d like to share a terribly lit before and after:
And yes, I totally admit to using the smile cheat of most before and after beauty photos, a.k.a. “Look how much happier I am with my new look!” But seriously, it’s true.
Like I said, I’ve barely scratched the surface (jokes) of contouring, and I’m not sure it’s really “me” anyway. A little highlighting here and there is a nice new touch, but the idea of giving myself a Kim Kardashian fake-face seems out of my league and currently unnecessary for my life and goals. Maybe someday, when I’m a busy mom, I’ll try it out. (That one was specifically for you, Leila.)
Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to my old friend, Maybelline Dream Fresh Beauty Balm, or BB cream. This stuff treated me very well for the past year or so. Again, a little bit goes a long way and I saw a serious decrease in breakouts when I used this bad boy. It also includes a magical, eight (major) ingredient mixture of sunscreen, moisturizer, tinted foundation and other things that matter less. All that said, it really is just “tinted” and doesn’t offer very many hiding places for things like blemishes or acne scars. I would highly recommend this for the fancy lady with perfect or near-perfect skin who wants to add a super-light, liquid foundation to her morning routine. It definitely evens skin tone and protects against aging with its SPF 30, but let’s just say I needed to bring out the big guns.
So, now that I’ve purchased and implemented my latest round of face paint, I’d like to know what I’m doing wrong. Or at least, open up the floodgates for any other recommendations. I’ve been wooed by the promise of the Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palettes, so that’s probably the next purchase on my list, but I know there’s a big bad world of lady secrets out there, just waiting to land on my pores. Bring it on! Or, try some of my humble suggestions and let me know what you think.
And with that, I conclude my first attempt at a beauty blog post. I hope I didn’t scare anyone too much.