Courtney Leiva
August 30, 2017 1:01 pm
HelloGiggles/Anna Buckley

Welcome to 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!

I’m Courtney Leiva, a contributor to HelloGiggles and a writer at some other beauty sites you probably have bookmarked. As a seasoned freelancer, let me tell you that it’s totally true that this job gives you access to products that are worth more than your entire savings account (ask me about that $995 gold magnet face mask!). However, like fellow HG contributor Jascmeen pointed out, the product overload can get a little out of hand, especially when you try out products your skin doesn’t necessarily agree with.

And although being a beauty writer may seem like a glamorous job à la Sex and the City, I’m actually in sweatpants and pajama tops most of the time, glued to my desktop like some kind of internet troll. While I’m not actually harassing people online (who has the time anyway?), being at my desk all day long prompts me to keep my skin clean, hydrated, and not to mention, makeup-free.

On the rare occasion that I do want to feel fancy, or simply want to look good for the FedEx and UPS employees that are constantly at my doorstep, I managed to muster up a routine that makes me feel like my life is practically put together. This proves to be a mood booster when you’re juggling multiple deadlines, testing out products, and tending to your overflowing inbox.

In case you’re curious to know what exactly that routine looks like, I’ll break it down for you below.

7:00 a.m.: Getting My Hair Under Control

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

Although this early riser is usually up at 6 a.m., I spend the early part of the morning answering emails, eating breakfast, and catching up on the news. Once 7 a.m. rolls around, I’m ready to start working. However, if the inspiration strikes me to actually put my face on, I start with my hair first, as that requires a pretty dedicated regimen I follow once a week. In case I didn’t mention, I’m a bottled blonde who tries to shampoo as infrequently as possible. That means I’m using shortcuts as much as possible, like Captain Blankenship Mermaid Dry Shampoo ($24).

When it’s actually time to wash my hair, I use a couple of products to keep my deep-fried locks vibrant and healthy.

To keep my blonde cool and free of brassiness, I wash my locks a few times with the TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Shampoo ($28.99), and then follow up with the TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Reconstructor ($29.99). Although I do heat style (especially when I wear clip-in extensions) on occasion I’ll go for some foam rollers, and a little bit of the It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In For Blondes ($19.55) to keep my locks wavy, and full of moisture.

8:00 a.m.: Time To Put My Face On

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

After leaving my curlers in for an hour, I’ll begin to remove them and let my hair continue to air dry. Once that’s done, it’s time to put some makeup on for the day. If I had to describe my makeup look, it’s definitely Holly Madison-meets-Kim Novak (check out Vertigo, por favor!), as I usually opt for a bold cat-eye, highlighted cheeks, and nude-pink (or red) glossy lips.

To achieve this fairly complicated makeup look, it’s important for me to use a primer to keep everything on all day long. I avoid droopy cat eyes and melting makeup with the Boscia White Charcoal Mattifying Makeup Setting Spray ($12) all over my face and on my eyelids. Then, to get that blemish-free perfection I use a makeup applicator sponge to evenly apply the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation ($64) onto my face. To set the foundation, I use the Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Silky Moist Compact ($52) and fill in any gaps and cracks.

Like the rest of the internet, I also swear by highlighter, so to get that glow I use the Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter ($6) to pump up my cheeks.

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

Once my facial makeup is complete, I then focus on my eyes, which require an equal amount of work.

While the rest of my face is fairly high-maintenance, I will admit that my lips really aren’t that complicated.

To start, I usually use the Glamour Dolls Mattenetic Lipstick ($4.99) and then follow up with some shimmery LAUREN + VANESSA Lip Gloss ($24). I know, it’s a lot. Sigh.

11:00 a/m.: Deskside Essentials To Keep Me Going

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

Once I am already knee-deep in writing assignments, I really don’t have too much time for touch-ups. However, I usually leave some products (alongside a tall mug of caffeinated tea!) at my desk to help me going. Of course, the Dove Invisible Clear Finish Dry Spray Antiperspirant ($5.49) is a lifesaver, as it keeps my underarms dry and odor-free at all times.

Being that I don’t wear makeup most days, I have moisturizing balms and salves at my desk.

1:00 p.m. Touch-Ups, If I Have The Time!

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

I usually eat lunch around noon or 12:30 p.m., so if I have a little time for a break between writing assignments, I can touch up my gloss or use a little more powder to prevent my face from going slick. Usually, this time is when the delivery people  start showing up (I get a TON of samples), so I try to look presentable, even if it’s a quick hi and bye.

5:00 p.m. Work Ends, Face Comes Off

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

Being that I treat my writing like a 9-to-5 job, I definitely try to call it quits once 5:00 p.m. rolls around. Yes, there are many occasions where I am working late, but I usually like to start early in the morning — that way I have some time to decompress at night. To remove all my makeup, I like to use coconut oil, as I find it’s the best thing ever to remove stubborn liner and pounds of foundation and highlighter. The Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil ($9.95) definitely gets the job done, since it removes tough waterproof makeup in a matter seconds.

To deep-cleanse my face after using my coconut oil, I use the Avalon Organics Intense Defense with Vitamin C Cleansing Gel ($10.21) to remove any existing makeup that may be lingering on my face. Then, I usually alternate between a mask and an exfoliating peel to keep my skin radiant. I use the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial ($80) a couple days a week to give my skin that glorious glow, which is essential when you don’t wear makeup half the time. As with masks and peels, I usually alternate between facial oils and serums in order for my skin to get the best of both worlds. The CosRx Triple C Lightning Liquid ($27) has been giving me life lately, as it uses pure Vitamin C (20.5 percent!) to help fade away any dark spots and acne scarring on my face.

9:00 p.m.: Bed Time Essentials To Help Me Snooze

Image Courtesy of Courtney Leiva

I like to let my products absorb for a while, so I won’t really start putting on my night products an hour before I actually hit the hay.

As you can see, my beauty routine is complicated, with or without makeup. But when I need that extra kick to keep my day going, it came be a definite mood booster for sure.