Stephanie Montes
January 23, 2018 2:18 pm
Anna Buckley / HelloGiggles / Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

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!

Hi, my name is Stephanie Montes, and I’m an LA-based beauty editor. Up until recently, I was a full-time employee with full-time hours. As much as I loved indulging in an extensive skin care routine and taking my time perfecting my cat-eye, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Though I’ve been lucky enough to have any product on the market just an email away, I usually ended up splashing water on my face in the morning and slapping on my makeup in the car while I waited at a red light.

These days, I freelance from home, and my newfound freedom has inspired me to step up my beauty game and finally put all these stockpiled products to good use. Still, I haven’t found the motivation to brush my hair, so we’re just going to skip that topic, but if you’re looking for new skin care and makeup discoveries, I’m your girl.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I’ve never been a morning person — if I didn’t set an alarm, I could probably sleep until noon. In my defense, my best ideas come in the middle of the night, so I usually stumble into bed (and try not to wake up my snoozing husband) very early in the morning. So to not sleep the day away (I’m still a working professional after all), I set an alarm and stick to a daily routine as best as I can. The only difference is now I use more products and I actually sit at my vanity to do my makeup.

7:00 a.m. — I force myself to stop hitting snooze:

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I told you I wasn’t a morning person. I also just realized I’m an ugly sleeper. While this isn’t technically early, I was up late the night before. Even at 7:00 a.m., I have to set multiple alarms. I’m not proud of it, but can we move on now? I sit in bed for a few minutes and check my emails on my phone, scroll through Instagram, and glance at my schedule for the day. Most beauty events happen in the evening, so I have all day to prepare and get my freelance work done.

I’m awake, but my skin isn’t (yet!).

It might take a minimum of three alarms to get me out of bed, but it takes fives steps to wake up my skin. I start by exfoliating with Tatcha’s Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder ($65) to get the blood flowing. It starts as a fine powder and lathers when you add water. It’s the perfect way to slough off dead skin and any evidence left from the night before. But whenever you’re exfoliating, it’s important to rehydrate your skin afterward. I’ve been obsessed with this Dr. Brandt Oxygen Facial Flash Recovery Mask ($70). It’s like getting an oxygen facial at a spa, but you don’t have to leave the house, and it only takes three minutes to work its magic. Everyone has three minutes — even when I was expected to be in an office at 8 a.m., I could’ve found the time to apply it before leaving the house. I didn’t, but I could’ve.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I follow-up with a toner. If my skin is feeling greasy or I have a weird breakout, I use Belif’s Problem Solution Toner ($28). If I need some extra hydration, I reach for Nooni’s Moisture On Deep Water Dual Moisturizing Toner ($22). Next, I pat in My Daily Dose Custom Blended Serum by Skin Inc ($84). I’m constantly swapping products (it’s literally my job), but this serum is the only item that has had a permanent spot on my shelf since I first tried it a couple years ago. The fun part is you get to play chemist and mix three ingredients to create the perfect blend for your skin. My custom blend is vitamin A (for dark circles), French pine bark (for pollution protection), and chlorella (for dark spots). Lastly, I slather on Tatcha’s The Water Cream ($68). I love how moisturizing it is without being heavy or greasy.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I’m almost done, I swear! The only thing that’s left is to take these Bella Schneider BSB Beauty Globes ($75) out of the fridge and put them on my face. These glass, liquid-filled wands are a godsend! Starting at the inner corners of my eyes, I massage upward and outward. The cold wands de-puff and relieve swelling, and the motion helps with lymphatic drainage. I used these for a week straight when I was working a lot and looked so much more rested, even with less sleep. Now, I make it a point to use them every morning.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

Here’s when I take the time to make breakfast, walk my dogs (a bratty chihuahua and the sweetest papillon-poodle mix), get some work done, waste time on Instagram, you know, normal stuff.

10:00 a.m. — (and again at 1:00 p.m.) You can never be too hydrated:

I’m obsessed with face mists. I use them to rehydrate throughout the day, and I keep one in my purse, on my desk, in my car, everywhere! If I’m not wearing makeup, I just soak my face and press it in with the palms of my hands. Here are some of my favorites: Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($49), OleHenriksen Fountain of Truth Facial Water ($22), and Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist ($30).

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

3:00 p.m. — Putting my best face forward:

If you know me, you know I’m a serious makeup junkie. I even use my favorite items as decor in my beauty room. Though I don’t wear a full face every day, when I do, I step out in a cat-eye, full-coverage foundation, contour, the whole nine. If I have evening events, this is about the time I start getting ready as they usually get started around 5 p.m. (it takes me about an hour and a half to get ready, plus a 30-minute commute).

The eyes have it.

I prefer to start my eye makeup first, then I move to my skin and finish with the lip. Lately, I have been so obsessed with eyeshadows in rust-colored hues, burnt oranges, and warm browns. I have brown eyes, and these shades seem to really make them pop. After trying Urban Decay’s Naked Heat Palette ($54) for the first time, I was hooked. Now I’ve added the Huda Beauty Rose Gold Palette ($65), the NYX Perfect Filter Eye Shadow Palette In Rustic Antique ($19.99), and the Smashbox Photo Edit Eye Shadow Trio in Nudie Pic (Deep) and Holy Crop ($22) to my collection.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I’ve always liked the look of a long, thick, full-flutter lash, but I just never had the patience to fuss with falsies. When I saw magnetic lashes come to the scene, I flipped! They made the application look easy, and I’ve always hated working with glue, so I needed to get my hands on a pair. Thanks to Ardell’s new collection, they are available at your local drugstore and more accessible than ever. I’m currently loving the Accent 002 Magnetic Eyelashes ($13.99).

It really is all about that base.

I’ve been around the beauty block, and I’m constantly on the hunt for the best foundations and concealers on the market. In my experience, I’ve learned that the best foundations require a few more dollars, but most of my favorite concealers are from the drugstore. When I need a full face for a night out, I reach for Huda Beauty Faux Filter Foundation ($40) or Le Metier de Beaute Cream Precision Complete Coverage ($45). But if I’m looking for something a bit sheerer, I apply the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation ($66) or the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64) with a Beautyblender ($20).

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

I get dark circles from time to time and I need all the help I can get covering them. These are my favorite full-coverage concealers: Physicians Formula #InstaReady Concealer ($10.99), Maybelline Master Conceal ($8.99), Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer ($6), and NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer ($30).

The final look:

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

10:00 p.m. — It’s almost time for bed:

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

As you just learned, I wear a lot of makeup, so I need products that get my face super clean. Elemis’ Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($64) is just what I need to melt off all that eye makeup. It starts as a solid and melts into a cooling oil when I massage it into my face. It gets off even my most stubborn mascara in this single step. I’m a big fan of the double-cleanse approach so I always follow up with Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Facial Charcoal Cleanse ($9.99), and my Foreo Luna ($199). This combination keeps my face so clean and prevents breakouts.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

After what I’ve put my skin through tonight, I’m ready to pamper myself and rehydrate. If you haven’t jumped on the sheet-mask bandwagon yet, I recommend you do STAT. They take zero effort, and you don’t even need to get out of bed to apply them if you don’t want to. And they’re super affordable! Tonight, I’m wearing Innisfree’s Shea Butter It’s Real Squeeze Mask ($1.80). Speaking of affordable staples, E.l.f.’s Massaging Overnight Recovery Cream ($14) is packed with antioxidants to fight environmental aggressors (which cause premature aging) while you sleep. The best part is the massaging applicator — it feels so good and helps with swelling and puffiness.

Stephanie Montes / HelloGiggles

Finally, I’m ready for bed! Goodnight!!

Deleted scenes.

Sunday mornings are for masking. Whether I’m looking to detox my skin or add much-needed hydration, I’m always prepared. Here are some of my favorite weekly face masks: Advanced Clinicals Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Gel Mask ($10), Yes To Coconut Ultra Hydrating Facial Mask ($9.27), and Bare Minerals Dirty Detox Mask ($35).

I hope you love them as much as I do.

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