As someone who has suffered from acne since the 8th grade, I’m a regular on the skin care aisles in your local grocery or drug store. Let’s just say, I know my way around my skin and I have invested in it through beauty products. I may not know how to fix it completely, but I know how to feverishly and desperately spend hundreds of dollars trying to cure the plague on my face.
Okay, so it’s not that bad, but it’s there, and I’m 26 and 100% over it. Nevertheless, I’ve grown to see my acne as a blessing in disguise, because I take care of my skin and as a result am protecting it from sun damage, more acne, and melanoma. I wear sun screen, I wear makeup to protect my skin from outside chemicals, I moisturize, I wash my face every time — basically, I’m on top of my game.
I’m pretty fortunate to have a mother who is very into skin care and makeup, so when she buys a nice shadow that she isn’t entirely crazy about, and only uses it once, she gifts it to me. The result? A mix of drug store e.l.f products and Bobbi Brown foundation brushes. It may not work for you, but it’s working for me.
Me, as a working visual artist, freelance writer, and part-time dancer:
As an artist, I go into the studio with paint slung on my pants and a beanie to cover my unwashed hair. As writer who is stationed on a couch at home, I wear a lot of pajama pants and and pour a lot of coffee. My dance life is a lot of sweating and sports bras. In short, my evenings are when I apply makeup and “fix myself,” although I do think I look pretty adorable in this picture above.
The game changer is that I actually put a lot into my routine that isn’t makeup. I usually don’t care too much about my hair. As I’ve said at least 80 times already in this article, it’s all about the face, baby.
Morning, 8:30 A.M
I don’t set alarms, really. I’m a natural riser and since I create my hours and my own work, I wake up when I wake up. I hope you’re jealous.
After checking my social media, I walk into the bathroom and try not and stare at any new friends that have appeared on my face. If I don’t shower right away, I wash my face with Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser ($5.99) and tone my skin with Paula’s Choice Calming Toner for Dry and Sensitive Skin from her Skin Recovery Advanced Kit ($21, $156 for the whole kit). I have the whole collection of Paula’s Choice products, although I left my cleanser at my partners house, so for now Bioré is a decent back up.
I could rave about Paula’s Choice beauty products forever. She saves the day, again and again. She provides honest reviews for most skin care products out there, and also has a kick-ass line herself. If I do shower, I usually use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap ($12.75) as my body wash, and whatever affordable shampoo and conditioner I could find at the drug store. I let my hair air dry or I blow dry it upside down. My hair is naturally straight, so I don’t do too much in that area.
I put a little bit of Avalon Vitamin C Renewal Eye Cream ($13.91) under my eyes even though I haven’t seen too much of a difference. But it feels good and I need to use it up (decent logic, eh?) I finish up my face with a Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizer SPF 30. Even if I don’t step outside, I put this stuff on. It keeps my naturally dry skin dewy.
If I have a problem child (aka zit) on my face, I put on Paula’s Choice Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide ($18) and my blemish usually goes down by the next day after I reapply at night. I have a cystic pimple on my chin, so I lightly cover the area and let it set.
When I leave the bathroom, I grab a glass of water, my favorite beauty product. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I look like this sometimes, too. Most days I look like both. My career in writing and editing keeps me at home, but my involvement in the dance and club scene gets me dressing up and going out pretty religiously.
…so I find myself looking a little bit like this a lot of the time:
To be honest, a lot of my beauty regimen lies in the corners of my closet. Fishnets, latex, and a possible whip are what give me the proper self-care that I need.
When I decide to get my face makeup ready, I apply a thin layer of e.l.f’s Foundation Serum ($8) for a good base. It covers up my redness, is super dewy, and sometimes it’s even good enough to wear on its own. It’s probably the only somewhat expensive thing in e.l.f’s collection, and it’s still so cheap, and I loveeeeeee it. The product that initially sold me on e.l.f’s makeup line was this sucker: the e.l.f HD Lifting Concealer ($2.99). When I typically try to cover up a blemish with another concealer, the result is a dry, noticeably darker area. It ain’t cute and it ain’t fair. This magical concealer works wonders for my skin. I wish I could buy it as a foundation, but alas I’m reduced to a tiny tube of radiance. Packed with Vitamin C, green tea, and mulberry, my skin is always left smooth after application.
If I need more coverage, I apply e.l.f’s Acne Foundation ($6) usually using my Bobbi Brown Foundation Brush ($45) or my e.l.f Foundation Brush ($2). Um, also can we take a moment to look at these price differences?! I have to say, Bobbi Brown does always seize the day when it comes to application and coverage. So the investment is worth it.
After I turned 26 I started noticing the dark circles under my eyes. Is it the dancing or the aging? I’ll never know but IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream ($38) is true to its title and helps hide my otherwise-obvious lack of sleep. This product is new to my regimen and something I didn’t even know that I needed a few months ago. It’s a life saver and creates an even tone with a great inclusion of SPF 50. To finish everything off, I use Urban Decay’s Vegan Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation ($36) which offers such a great coverage without any flaking or dryness. I put some on my chin, nose, and any problem areas on my forehead.
Now comes the fun part: color.My Eyeliner and Shadow Stick from e.l.f ($3) is my current go-to eyeliner for both the top and bottom lid. It glides easily and has a dark enough shade for my somewhat gothic tendencies. The company also has a decent Liquid Liner ($2). I just ran out of it, but I definitely recommend it for those who have a steady hand; it’s not sufficient for winged liner beginners.
I apply e.l.f’s Studio Eyebrow Kit ($2.99) which includes an angled brush, pigmented wax, and setting powder. Since my eyebrows are pretty full, so I just taper off the edges to create a more defined look. I apply Paula’s Choice Nude Matte’s Eyeshadow Palette, ($40) which I can’t seem to find anywhere online (other than this one on eBay), so I’m assuming it’s discontinued, and typically go for a lighter shade as it has more shimmer. Applying the lightest shadow with my fingers to the corners of my eyes gives my eyes a hydrated, rejuvenated look.
With my Contouring e.l.f Brush ($6), I apply e.l.f’s Contouring Blush and Contouring Powder ($3.99 to my cheekbones. The dark brown powder is typically what I use for definition and then I apply e.l.f’s Baked Highlighter ($2.99) with my e.l.f Angled Brush ($2.99) to the tops of my cheekbones for shimmer. An e.l.f Mascara is applied ($1.99-$3), and a NYX Matte lipstick finishes my look for the day. Simple and cheap, but necessary.
Evening, 6 P.M.
Depending on what I’m doing for the rest of the day, I’ll freshen up my face with a little more of an application, check out my blemishes, reapply Urban Decay’s Powder, and switch up lipsticks. I use a lot of Dr. Haushka ($20), NYX, e.l.f (ha, surprised?), and a little bit of Bobbi Brown. If you peep into my purse, I most definitely have 8 different shades with me at all times.
Again, depending on what I’m doing, I’ll either wash my face or re-apply my makeup. Since I dance and work out quite a bit, my routine fluctuates. But today I’m staying in and working out in the comfort of my Chicago apartment. My night routine is a therapeutic necessity for me. Without it, I feel like I have insulted my skin beyond repair. Even on my latest nights, I wash everything off of my face.
I begin with the first thing that I did in the morning, Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser. I use Paula’s Choice Calming Toner to remove all excess makeup, since there is always something lingering. Tonight I’m treating myself a little bit so I put on an all time favorite, the Health & Beauty Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay ($6). Named the “world’s most powerful facial,” the mask removes any blackheads that I have on my nose. Moreover, it leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft and tingles for the entirety of the application. Bentonite Clay has so many uses: from detox, to healing allergies, to recovery, it’s sort of a miracle beauty product.
The mask usually leaves my face feeling dry and tight, especially tonight, so I continue with my skin care routine that involves a lot of moisturizer. Since the mask is pretty intense, I’m going to skip using my Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant ($29), BUT you can’t stop me from gushing about this beauty product. A few years ago, my dermal piercing rejected from my chest and left me with a tiny scar that I wasn’t too thrilled about. After applying this exfoliant a few times a day, my scar completely disappeared. I was hooked to the beauty product, and still am today. The skin-smoothing ingredients are key for creating radiant and even toned skin. I use it every night on my chest, neck, and face, especially since my acne has left slight pigmented scarring.
To reduce the redness and dryness from the mask, I apply Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Mask ($24), which can honestly be used as a regular ole’ moisturizer. On days where I don’t use the Bentonite Mask, I use my Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer ($29) which sinks into my skin and leaves me looking pretty damn radiant in the morning. I finish off my face care with the Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($34), which reduces wrinkles, prevents environmental damage, and creates a glow to my skin. Yes, I know I’m 26 and yes, everyone has told me that I shouldn’t worry about wrinkles just yet but also, I do what I want and I want to live like the French. So, cheers to serum! Clink, clink for beauty products!
Lastly, I’m a dancer and my feet are often not the cutest things in the world, so I apply Burt’s Bee’s Coconut Food Cream ($8) and slip on some socks. This stuff is super sticky and will get on everything. The result is me waking up to feet that feel like butter. Truly amazing.
Feeling soft and cleansed, I’m going to lie down on my leopard print bed sheets, under my black canopy, fall into a beautiful slumber and do it all over again tomorrow.