This post is done in the style of Into The Gloss’s Top Shelf feature, which I’ve been obsessed with for about five years now. So basically, I’m pretending I’m being interviewed by Emily Weiss on all the products I love, in my own home, complete with “professional” photos/selfies. Fake it ’till you make it, right?
My routine is hard to explain briefly. I’ll say this, though- I am not low maintenance when I don’t have to be. There’s no shame in that. I’m addicted to haircare, skincare, makeup, all that, but I really don’t afford myself much time to enjoy it on a daily basis. I either want to spend an hour getting ready just the way I like, or I want to be out the door in five minutes. All or nothing. It’s part of how I appreciate beauty- I hate doing any of it halfheartedly. One of my least favorite things is when I try to quickly wiggle on some mascara in the morning on the way to work and then it turns out all sloppy and incomplete by my standards. It’s not worth it. I’d rather bite the bullet and go bare.
So, what I do depends on the day. If I have time, I start from the bottom layer and work up, though I try to make the skincare thing happen every day. I typically begin with a serum, and I’ve decided Caudalie’s S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum is the best. I tried Shiseido’s Ultimune, but I like Caudalie’s better for the money. It feels so fresh on my skin, sometimes I forget to put on moisturizer afterwards. It’s been hard to pin down a great moisturizer for me because I’m always looking for something natural, but effective and with SPF that doesn’t leave a weird residue. I’ve been using Origins A Perfect World Moisturizer these past couple months. It smells amazing and has SPF 25. I’ve also like Desert Essence’s Daily Essential Defense Moisturizer from Sprout’s or Whole Foods, but it wouldn’t absorb well when it was hot out so I continued my hunt. When I checked out Origins, the lady helping me gave me a quick facial and she talked me into the toner from the same line. I haven’t used toner in forever because I feel it’s unnecessary and drying, but this stuff felt tingly and actually left my skin moisturized. There’s a lot of white tea in it. We’ll see if I keep it up.
For face wash, I alternate between Origins and Desert Essence, which is entirely made of oils and some castile soap. It sounds basic, but there’s a ton of random stuff in it like bladderwrack extract and goldenseal root extract that I hadn’t even heard of before using it. For a night cream, I’ve been using Acure’s for a couple years and it’s really rich with lavender and chamomile. It’s very calming. I think they sell it at Target now, but it’s been at Whole Foods forever. For zits, I’m pretty faithful to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. My husband loves it too. I try to just leave zits alone for the most part these days; I find that doing anything to try and “heal” them just aggravates them or doesn’t quicken their disappearance. Sometimes I’ll do a mask if I’m just watching Netflix late at night. I’ll use Lancome’s Hydra Intense Masque. It’s super cooling and smells amazing; I love putting on some I Love Lucy and having a late-night snack when I do a mask. Best ritual ever! I’ll also use Origins’ Clear Improvement charcoal mask for porous areas; the lady who gave me the facial at Origins gave it to me for free! I like face wipes too, and my favorite are the Yes To Cucumbers kind. I can’t tell you how many packs of those my mom has jammed into my Christmas stocking over the years. I buy them in bulk at Target.
The one thing that’s still sort of a mystery to me is eye cream. I like ones that are cooling and depuffing, and I like rollerball kinds best because they’re more sanitary than dabbing your finger into a jar of cream and then putting it on your eye. Simple Skincare makes a good one, as does First Aid Beauty, but I don’t know. I’m just not there yet.
My hair stylist knows I’m a major product addict. The funniest thing has been when I’ve asked him about products from lines that he uses before they’re even out yet or before he’s heard about them! I read about hair stuff in magazines and then I want to go out and try it. New hair products are what I get most excited about, so I’ve tried a lot but I can finally say I have favorites. I wash my hair every three or four days, and I alternate between two shampoos. I’ve been using Rahua’s shampoo for over three years now, and it’s pricey but I feel absolutely no guilt using or purchasing it because it’s so natural. There’s really no soap in it. It’s another product made up mostly of oils. I’ll use another shampoo every other wash, typically an Aveda one like their Color Conserve or Dry Remedy. I’ll try anything for conditioner. I’ve been obsessed with conditioners since my late teens because I was always trying to find ones that would make my hair grow or repair it, but I don’t really believe conditioner does that anymore. I’ve used one from Davines for a long time called Momo; I love it. I’ll also ask for Kerastase samples from my friend who works at a L’Oreal salon because I can’t afford Kerastase, but their deep conditioners have the craziest reputations so I’m always desperate to try them. I also like Alterna, mostly their treatments from their Caviar line. They’re good for when I want to grow my hair out. I use Unite’s 7 Seconds Leave-In Conditioner to detangle with a wide-tooth comb after I wash, but I think I like Bumble and Bumble’s Prep spray better for this. I’ll go back to it after I run out of the Unite. The Prep spray has hops and rosemary, the latter of which is good for lice prevention. I work around kids, and lice is one of those things that you can’t really avoid if you’re in that environment. It’s part of life, so you just have to do what you can. Tea tree oil works well for this too, by the way.
For styling, I’m a sucker for anything to do with texture. Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist is great for giving that pliable “chunk” feel that I love for hair, and I also like Bumble And Bumble’s stylers like their Dryspun Finish and Cityswept Finish. If it mattifies, gives texture, or extends a blowout, I’ll try it. Anything for the second- or third-day hair look. I like Oribe’s Apres Beach Wave And Shine Hairspray too, though my hair does “beachy” really well on it’s own. I love Oribe’s products for their scent. And the best dry shampoo in the world is Klorane’s, hands down. The non-aerosol kind has stretched out so much time between washes for me. It can make your scalp itchy if you put too much on and don’t brush it out, but it’s still the best. The drugstore kinds suck. If I want a smooth or blown-out look I’ll use R&Co’s Jackpot Styling Creme. The scent is intense but it stretches out my hair beautifully, and the effect lasts around three days.
I got into the R&Co stuff because my salon started carrying it. I go to Salon 9 in Orange, and I’ve been going to Justin Kamm for nearly ten years! He’s a genius. He teaches workshops and is part of the cutting team for Davines. We finally, FINALLY cut my hair past my shoulders just this weekend. I’ve always had my hair long or mid-length, because I love long hair and I love playing with it. I miss topknots and ponytails and long waves, but the bob that Justin gave me feels so right. It’s good to do at least once, and I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel with it. I feel reeeeeally French. And the best part is, all those texture products work so well with this cut. I still put a bit of wave in it with my Hot Tools iron, but roughing it up with some kind of product gives it that grit that I’m always after.
Makeup is tricky. I’ve tried a ton, but over the years I’ve come to find that I’m actually really picky and haven’t tried quite as much as other people (which is encouraging). Makeup is expensive, and I take forever to run out of anything so buying too much is a really wasteful choice for me. I don’t use primer much, but I like BeneFit’s The Porefessional when I do makeup for brides. It feels silky. I like to use Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm on myself and then immediately put on powder or foundation once it absorbs. I prefer this to primer. It sort of gives skin a brightening effect. For foundation, I love Bare Minerals’ Original SPF Foundation because it still leaves a glow. I don’t like a matte skin finish; I’m all about dewy skin and mattified hair. The opposite feels too Vegas or Miss America for me. If I want a liquid foundation, Lancome’s Teint Miracle is nice but I still haven’t landed on a favorite. I just don’t think I like liquid foundation. I even have a BB Cream that I like but I just don’t use it too often. You can’t escape the feeling of liquid makeup on your face, which I hate. I immediately want to take it off. Concealer is nearly always Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat in Luminous Vanilla. I used to hate it, and I’m not sure why. It’s the most lightweight formula I can find that still gives coverage. However, I’m not too concerned anymore with getting rid of dark circles anymore because for some reason, I like them now. They seem to give a touch of character. A heavy concealer under the eyes looks too finished for me. You need that bit of wear in your face.
NARS Bronzer in Laguna is pretty standard, and I’ll try almost any blush. NARS has the best ones. I’ve liked their creme formula in Lokoum for a long time but I think it’s discontinued. Their other powder shades are bonkers; I love Exhibit A and Liberte. MAC has a gorgeous one from their Mineralize line called Warm Soul. It super pretty for everyday, but mineral blush on top of mineral powder it can make your skin look funny. I like it on bare skin. MAC’s Plum Foolery is also good; I wore it for my wedding day and my mom wears it, too. I have a couple Chanel blushes too, but I hate to admit that I bought them because they were honestly just too expensive and frankly, MAC and NARS make better ones. The Chanel ones have perfume in them. You feel glamorous putting them on, but they’re a murderous, stupid splurge. Spend that kind of money on groceries or not at all, for God’s sake.
Eye makeup is a journey for me. I take forever to decide what I’m going to do with my eyes. Eyeshadow feels like such a commitment, which is probably why I wear it the least out of anything. It’s takes me a lot of time and concentration, and I always need to put shadow primer on if I’m going to do it because it makes such an undeniable difference. I think I like purple shadows on myself best. It’s just enough of an interesting color to feel special, and it does wonders for brown eyes. MAC’s Sketch and Embark are good. I bought the Embark because it’s the closest thing I could find that matches this special edition Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow I have. Christian Siriano from Project Runway did a collection for them a long time ago and it included this eyeshadow that is literally perfect. It’s matte, smooth, has amazing concentration, and is this deep purple-brown shade called Royalty that, of course, ended with the collection. I’m going through it really slowly, but I love using it for smokey eyes. A lot of that stuff with a ton of MAC’s kohl liner in Feline, and boosh- I feel like Catwoman. If I’m really going for it I’ll use Urban Decay’s eye pencil in Vice, too, and smudge it out. The best is when a smokey eye looks sweaty and sparkly, like a hazy night at Studio 54 in 1978. This pencil does that. Oh and my mascara is pretty much exclusively CoverGirl. I swear, theirs are the best.
Lips are simple. I do very little, unless it’s something like a red lip. I like lip colors that look like just a bit of something, because I usually like to focus on my eyes. A lot of times it’s just a few swipes of Burt’s Bees. Everything I like tends to be pinky-nude. I’ve liked Dior’s Addict lipstick in Tulle, L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Balm in Nourishing Nude, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in Nude Provocateur. I guess I gravitate toward balm stains, or gloss balms, or all those hybrid formulas we see these days. Nothing too lipstick-y. An exception would be NARS’ lip pencils. Those are brilliant.
Oh! I almost forgot about brows. I use one thing- CK One’s Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven. I like thick, groomed eyebrows, but I hate how many rules and standards there are with them these days. They have to be perfectly shaped, tapered, filled in, not too thin, all that. I’m not into it, and same goes for the contouring craze. It’s just too much, too Kim with all the banana powder and shading and all that. I’m not into tricks that transform your face into another face, though it’s cool that it can be done. I like to look like myself, but with a bit of a wink I guess. That’s the best for me, at least. xo, MR
You know your stuff McKenna! You’ve alway been beautiful with or without makeup.