Stephanie Hallett
March 02, 2017 1:29 pm
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!

Growing up, I was pretty lucky when it came to my skin. Save for the occasional pimple, my face remained blissfully clear through my teenage years and well into my twenties — until I hit 27 in 2014, and all hell broke loose. That year, I separated from my husband of four years, and my face? Well, it decided to rebel.

All of a sudden I had deep, hormonal acne up and down my cheeks and spilling onto my neck. At one point, my skin got so bad — so red, angry, and inflamed — that my editor casually slipped me a phone number. “That’s the number for my dermatologist,” she said. “She saved my face. And she’s covered by our insurance. You should go.”

And go I did, to Dr. Letantia Bussell’s clinic in Beverly Hills, a fancy-pants dermatology office complete with high-end cookies and plush chairs in the waiting room. And for about a year, I endured trichloroacetic acid (or TCA) peels and painful extractions, washing my face morning and night with a Bussell-formulated antibacterial cleanser, wiping with a toner so strong it smelled like nail polish remover, and sleeping every night in a sulfur mask. And no, I was definitely not allowed to moisturize.

And you know what? My skin got better. My acne started to clear up and the scars from my deepest breakouts began to fade. My face felt dry and tight, but I loved having clear-ish skin again. But then I left my job and said goodbye to my health insurance — and to my fancy-pants dermatologist.

Fast-forward to December 2016. I’d been Bussell-free for about seven months (though I still used her face wash and toner daily) and my skin was dry, painful, and worst of all — full of pimples. Again. Frustrated by the harsh chemicals I was piling on my face — not to mention the lack of results — I practically ran to Natural Feeling, a spa and boutique in my Los Angeles neighborhood, searching for a new way forward.

Owned by aesthetician Adina Diaz, Natural Feeling offers peels, facials, and other products and treatments that used plant-based ingredients only. Through a painless consultation, Adina helped me develop a new skincare regimen (this time with moisturizer — win!) and my face, though still pimply from time to time, is much happier than it has been in the last three years.

So as I prepare to turn 30 in just over a month (ah!) I’m happy to share my daily routine.

Morning: 7:30 a.m.

I start my day by washing with Lotus Moon Mineral Earth Cleansing Gel ($38), a lemongrass-based cleanser that leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean (it literally squeaks as I rinse it clean). Next, I pat dry and apply Lotus Moon’s Willowherb Serum ($42), and then layer the same brand’s Vitamin-B Hydrating Gel ($32) on top of that. The products are pricey, to be sure, but I’ve been using them daily for nearly three months now and they’re not even halfway finished.


On my lips, my go-to throughout the day is Virtuoso spearmint lip balm from Trader Joe’s (yes, I’m serious). It comes in a pack of three, it’s light and smooth, leaves your lips just the slightest bit minty, and it contains SPF 15 — critical for life in Los Angeles.



I’m a freelancer and I work from home, so most days I don’t wear any makeup at all. I just wash and moisturize and then work happily for the rest of the day with a clean face. I’m also a dance teacher, though, so when I have classes, I head straight home afterwards to repeat my morning wash and moisturize routine.

Evening: 6 p.m.

Like I said, I’m home most of the time. But if I’m going out in the evening, I like to pat on a little makeup.

One of the best bits of advice I got from my days as a patient at Dr. Bussell’s was to use a foundation formulated for acne-prone skin. I got hooked on Clinique’s Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup ($28) in Fresh Ivory; it’s super lightweight, extremely flattering, and truly makes my skin look flawless.

After applying my foundation, I dust my face with Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed ($34) bronzer/blush/highlighter trio in “Going Native” (ugh, the name. I know). Then I apply Urban Decay eyeshadow ($19) in Maui Wowie (it’s gold) on my upper and lower lids and finish with Clinique’s High Impact Mascara ($17.50). If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I line my waterline and lower lashes with whatever black eyeliner I have around. And yes, if you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to makeup.


And if I’m feeling extra, extra adventurous (and have no plans to smooch anyone — because the “snogged lips” look is not for me) I apply a Cover Girl Perfection Lipstick in either Spellbound (a bright fuchsia) or Hot (a classic red). Sadly this line of lipstick has been discontinued, but Cover Girl recommends Colorlicious Lipstick ($6.99) as an alternative.

And voilà, my face!


Bedtime: 11 p.m.

At night, I wash with my Mineral Earth Cleansing gel — which completely removes my makeup, btw, no pre-cleaning required — and then I use the Rezamid Acne Treatment Lotion mask ($27.95) recommended to me by Dr. Bussell on any errant pimples. I find that it dries them out more effectively than toothpaste, and keeps deep pimples from bursting to the surface.

And then I go bed and sleep soundly knowing that I did right by my skin. Or something like that!

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