These are the personalized skin care products one Chicago-based mom uses on a daily basis

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 [email protected]!

Hi! I’m Gulnaz, a work-from-home mom currently trying to complete a doctoral degree, a YA novel, and a collection of essays. Needless to say, beauty isn’t a priority. Before kids, I wore a full face of makeup daily and tried tons of products to manage my acne-prone skin and half-straight, half-curly hair. I never really had a routine because I had the time to experiment. My mornings don’t have that flexibility anymore, but I’ve become tired of being the hot-mess mom at drop off. So I’ve been streamlining a hair and skin care routine and making time for makeup when I have plans.

Before we dive into my skin care routine, I want to mention that I started using Curology, which connects me with an online dermatologist. It’s been extremely convenient given my schedule. I not only get customized prescription medication from them but I also product suggestions that have helped me figure out what’s right for my skin.

6:30 a.m. — Time to get up!

I try to get up before my kids so I have time to wash and moisturize my face, tie my hair back, and make coffee before waking them up. I use this amazing zinc soap recommended by my Curology consultant, Noble Formula Bar Soap ($12.99). At first, I wasn’t paying much attention and bought the kind with emu oil but switched to the argan oil-based version after I thought too hard about what emu oil might be. Curology also recommended the Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel ($19.99) for moisturizing my combination skin, and it’s the first time I’ve had a product provide adequate moisture without making my skin break out. 

Despite being a zombie in the mornings, I somehow manage to wake, dress, feed, and entertain my daughters before driving to school.

8:00 a.m. — Drop off.

Other parents are out here looking bright-eyed and ready for the day. Even though I’m in awe, I don’t even get out of the car because no one needs to see this mess.

8:30 a.m. — Yoga.

I do some yoga because everything on my body started hurting around when I turned 30. Without some stretching and working out, I can feel my mortality a little too closely.

9:15 a.m. — Face masks and damage control.


My face is feeling kind of blah from the Chicago winds, so I decide it’s time for a face mask. I received Caolion Hot and Cold Pore Pack Duo as a sample with a Sephora purchase years ago and I had to buy it. It comes with two masks (It’s currently only available at Sephora overseas, the one I linked to is from Canada). The hot one, which is meant to open up pores, leaves my skin feeling really smooth. The cold one, which is supposed to clean and tighten, makes my face feel like it has been cleaned with toothpaste, all minty fresh, even though I don’t think it has mint in it.


As I’m waiting around for the first mask to work its magic, I remember that my youngest confessed to using my Sephora Foundation Brush ($18) to “paint” the toilet. I had first noticed the brush was misshapen. Then I noticed foundation all over the toilet cover and was pretty sure I hadn’t rubbed my face there at any point. She said she did it because she “thought it was a paintbrush,” which, in retrospect, why would she think it’s okay to use a paintbrush on the toilet?

Anyways, I hadn’t dealt with it last night, so now I realize I won’t be wearing foundation today because there’s no time to clean and dry it. Normally, I’d use my Sephora Solid Brush Cleaner ($8) to wash a brush, but I’m concerned about the toilet germs getting into the cleaner and spreading. I rinse off the first mask, apply the second, and mix together some dish soap, warm water, and white vinegar in a mason jar. A couple of my other makeup brushes are looking suspect, so I set them all into the mix to soak.


9:45 a.m. — Finally I can shower.

I hop in the shower to rinse off the mask and wash my hair. I shampoo with the Big Sexy Hair Extra Volumizing Shampoo ($15.95) and follow with the Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Conditioner ($16.95). I love the way this duo leaves my hair full and moisturized without feeling greasy the next day. I only wash my hair every two or three days to keep it from drying out.


As soon as I hop out, I remoisturize with the Sebamed gel I used in the morning, and follow with my Curology topical RX ($20/month).

10:00 a.m. — Hair time!


Normally I’d start doing my hair immediately, but I have those makeup brushes to deal with. So, I wrap my hair in an old cotton t-shirt. I rinse the brushes under fresh water, reshape, and lay them out to dry on a paper towel.

It’s taken me some time to figure out how to encourage my hair’s waviness without weighing it down, which just makes it look straight but frizzy — or without overdoing the product, which gives me over-crunchy curls. I love the Bed Head On the Rebound Curl Re-Call Cream ($20) but find it leaves my hair feeling slightly sticky the next day. For some reason, mixing it with some Shea Moisture 100% Pure Argan Oil ($6.89) combats the stickiness. So, I mix the two together in my palms and then finger comb my hair. Then, I scrunch and blow-dry with a diffuser for maximum volume. Honestly, my hair is still a little frizzy afterward, but I love the overall effect and the way it feels light and big.

10:15 a.m. — Time for makeup.


Luckily, my concealer brushes have survived the Toilet Incident of 2018, so I’m able to avoid using my fingers to apply it all over my face. I love this Sephora + Pantone Universe Correct and Conceal Palette ($25). My skin color changes quite drastically between winter and summer, and even one sunny day can make a concealer obsolete for me. This kit lets me blend the colors. I never color corrected before but I tried it out since I had the product, and it’s amazing. The orangey shade does wonders for my under-eye circles and hyperpigmentation from past breakouts, and the green addresses redness from new ones (it’s a vicious cycle).


Since my foundation brush is a mess, I have to forgo a heavier foundation. (But can I just say I looooove my Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, $34. It might be the first foundation I’ve used with the right undertone for my skin — it doesn’t leave me looking like an Oompa Loompa or a ghost.)

Anyways, I have to mix together two lighter coverage products to get the right color for today. I mix the Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream ($32; it’s currently sold out everywhere), which isn’t dark enough for today and leaves my skin ashy, with the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint ($45), which is a little too dark and turns orange after a while. Together they’re magically the perfect shade and consistency.

I finish with a little Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Sunset Orange ($29). I love it because it stays on all day without me needing to use lip liner or without depleting my lips of moisture, the way most matte lip colors do.

10:30 a.m. — Ready to work!


Okay, actually I eat first. Then I write for a couple hours, fold some laundry, eat again, and go pick up the kids.

3:00 p.m. — Pickup and Playground.


After picking up my kids and answering 5 million questions about why I’m wearing soooo much makeup today, we decide it’s nice enough outside for some playground time. I still haven’t figured out how people manage to look cute all bundled up. I’m just amazed my lipstick looks so good at this point in the day.

8:00 p.m. — It’s time to relax!

I’ve gotten my girls through their homework, dinner, bedtime, and tucking in routine, so now it’s time for me to veg out on the couch with my husband. I know I should go ahead and wash my face, but I can’t be bothered.

10:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Bedtime.

I remember the days when 10 p.m. meant getting ready to go out, but I am 100% done for the day. I wish I could go straight to bed, but I force myself to wipe off my makeup by using a cotton pad and some coconut oil. I wash my face with the same zinc bar from the morning, moisturize with the same gel, and follow with the Curology acne prescription. Although some say my routine should be different for nighttime, I’m happy to stick with these few products that I know work.


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

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