Madison Vanderberg
Updated March 14, 2017
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HelloGiggles/Anna Buckley

We’re starting a new series called The Beauty Files, where HelloGiggles editors and contributors share what exactly they put on their faces, and why. We want to take you on this voyeuristic journey because we believe makeup means something different for every single person — applying makeup is a conscious, intimate decision we make almost every single day, and there’s usually a method behind the madness. Join us every week as we spill the beans on beauty products, and feel free to submit your own Beauty File. E-mail us at!

If you asked me to choose between a free tropical vacation or a lifetime supply of facials, I will ALWAYS choose the facials. I hardly ever wear makeup, but I am addicted to my skincare routine. TMI fun fact: I used to have cystic acne, and ever since then I’ve been on an obsessive conquest to get my skin back to my pre-acne days. My hobby is going to the dermatologist. I just linger in the lobby and ask if there have been any advancements in the industry. I’m kidding, but like, also not really.

My daily routine is like 2/3 skincare, 1/6 slapping on a bb cream, and 1/6 wearing SPF. Is that math correct? Whatever.

Me, usually:

That’s a lie — this is me most of the time.

No hair, no makeup. But when I do DO my entire routine, here’s how it goes down.

Morning: 8:30 a.m.

Some people meditate. I moisturize my face.

In the winter, my skin is incredibly dry. I once read that Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t wash her face with soap in the morning because it’s too drying, so for the last year, I’ve been washing my morning face with water and nothing else.

After splashing water on my face, I layer on May Lindstrom’s The Youth Dew Facial Serum ($120) followed by May Lindstrom’s The Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm ($160). Both of these products leave my skin soft and incredibly dewy like no moisturizer on earth can. However, as you can see, they are $$$$. Luckily, I got them for free for an article I wrote nearly a year ago and once I run out, I will probably never be able to afford it. #SorryNotSorry

Next, I use Ursa Major’s Force Field SPF ($54). I am willing to spend money on SPF because my skin is irritated by chemical sunscreen, so I always get an SPF with Zinc Oxide as the sun protectant and for whatever reason, natural SPFs always cost more.

I top it all off with Josie Maran’s Surreal Skin Argan Finishing Balm ($36). This stuff is like a balm and a makeup primer in one. I’m obsessed. I essentially have three moisturizing products on my face, because my skin is literally parched without it.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

I only wear makeup a few days a week. My skin isn’t great, but I mostly work from home, so who am I trying to impress? When I do wear makeup, 99 percent of the time I go for a no-makeup makeup look. Once a month I do a smoky eye that looks so bad my S.O. says I look like a raccoon.

For foundation, I use a BB cream by NYX ($13). It’s honestly better than any foundation I’ve ever used. It’s not super pigmented, but I’ve never found an actual foundation that matches my skin. I apply it with a wet BeautyBlender knock-off that I bought on Amazon. I can’t remember the brand, but I wanna say it was two dollars.

Next, I apply Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30) under my eyes and tap it in with the smaller end of the BeautyBlender dupe.

Then, I set my makeup with NYX HD Finishing Powder in the shade Mint Green ($10) and Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder ($26) for under my eyes. I use a brush to dust the powder under my eyes and I use my BeautyBlender to dab the NYX finishing powder on the rest of my face. I used to use one setting powder for the entire face, but the powder would “cake” under my eyes, so I learned that you need a finer powder for the eyes.

For my eye makeup, I comb some Gimme Brow Volumizing Eyebrow Gel ($24) in the medium shade through my brows, curl my eyelashes, apply Too Face Better Than Sex Mascara ($23), and finish it all off with Laura Geller’s Baked Blush-n-Brighten ($28) in a color they have discontinued. Womp, womp.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

On to the hair! I forgot to mention that I took a shower before this all began. Once a week, I use Lush’s Big Sea Salt Shampoo ($27.95). I got it for free from work (bless up), and it’s kind of like a clarifying shampoo. It gives my annoyingly fine and limp hair a lot of volume. For conditioner, I will literally use whatever is on sale. For now, it’s Bed Head by TIGI Color Goddess Oil Infused Conditioner ($12), but I got it at Ross for like, $5!

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

I comb my wet hair with a Tangle Teezer ($15), spritz some R+Co Dallas Thickening Spray ($28) and then give myself a very mediocre blowout. I’ve been highlighting my hair since high school and recently noticed a lot of breakage around my hairline. My stylist told me that my hair was breaking because I used plastic round brushes during my blowout. I switched to a boar bristle brush ($10.97-ish), and have noticed way less breakage.

Once my hair is dry, I curl my whole head with a 1-1/2 inch curling iron. The one I use has been discontinued, but this Hot Tools iron ($39.99) looks like it would work. I watch a lot of hair tutorials online and learned that wavy hair is created by curling your hair with the thickest iron possible.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

I run a pea-sized amount of Kristin Ess Water-Based Pomade ($10) through my waves, spritz some Kristin Ess Beach Wave Spray ($14) on my head, and finish with the tiniest amount of Oribe Superfine Strong hairspray ($38). I went to three Targets trying to locate those Kristin Ess products because Kristin is Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale’s stylist, and I’m really into celebrities.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

After that skincare routine, that glam, and all that hair shit — I look like this:

Yes, I know, I spend a ton of time and money on hair and makeup to look like I just got out of bed. 💁🏼

Throughout the day:

I have the hands of a woman who has spent 100 years tossing rocks around. Translation: I’ve got dry hands! I will apply and reapply chapstick and hand lotion throughout the day ad nauseam. I also wear hand cream with SPF in it because Kylie Jenner once said she did, so I do too now, I guess? I use Supergoop Forever Young Hand Cream with SPF 40+ ($12), Supergoop Acai Fusion Lip Balm with SPF 30 ($9.50), and some Kiehl’s hand cream from Japan that my roommate got me for Christmas.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

Post-work, pre-whatever: 6 p.m. ish?

I just need to refresh my look before heading out for dinner. I’ll reapply the hand/lip combo for the umpteenth time, spritz some texturing spray (Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast, $29) in my now lifeless hair, blot my face with some Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets ($4.26), and that’s it. I suppose I could put on lipstick? But I don’t wear lipstick, so…

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

Pre-bedtime routine: 9 p.m.

Tonight is what I call “mini-at-home-facial” night, which is where I put two masks on and call it a ~facial~.

First, I take my makeup off using Almay’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($5.99) and wash my face using Ursa Major’s Fantastic Face Wash ($12). I don’t know why I use an organic face wash when everything else I put on my face is pumped full of chemicals. I guess I just like the way it smells.

Next is ~THE FACIAL~

I start with the ultra-luxe May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Warming Correcting Masque ($90). It’s like a mud mask that you mix yourself. This stuff will calm a breakout almost immediately and leaves my skin super soft. It’s the closest to a professional facial you can get with an at-home mask. The second mask is the Cocokind Ultra Chlorophyll Mask ($18.99). Tbh, this is my first adventure with Chlorophyll as a beauty ingredient, but my friend is a big fan of Cocokind products, so I jumped on board. I leave each mask on for about 30 minutes each while I scroll through Insta-stories and take mask selfies that I will never post #Whatever #DontJudgeMe.

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

After the masks, I do a quick lip scrub (Lush Mint Julips $10.95). At this point, my skin is soft and bright but not super hydrated.

Next, I apply a serum by Curology. Curology is this online dermatologist that sends you a customized serum every month for $20 a month. You send in photos of your face and they assess what serum you need. My serum is tretinoin, vitamin c, and niacinamide. I don’t know if it’s the Curology, but my skin is as firm and bright as when I was 21.

Finally, I apply Clinique’s Moisture Surge Intense ($39), Josie Maran’s Argan Oil ($16), and Cocokind Organic Full Brow Balm ($13.99). Listen, I might be the only person in the world who wears a brow balm to bed, but just like, let me live, ok?

HelloGiggles/Madison Vanderberg

Finally, I get into bed and try not to let the argan oil seep into my pillow case (it will), watch an episode of New Girl, and call it a day. Zzzzzzz.

Indulge in beauty-themed voyeurism by reading all of our past Beauty Files here!