What I’m Using: An AM Routine

The last four years in Illinois really enabled me to think through the little things that make me, me. What do I like and don’t like? What kind of routine am I currently capable of, and what kind of routine do I wish I could have? How healthy am I, and what could make me healthier? It was all sort of laid bare before me. We’ve only been back in California for two months but we’ve jumped head-first into an extremely busy season. And my routines have shifted dramatically, partly out of obligation and partly because I think I’m just healthier. My job has me starting work at 7AM, but I see a lot of faces each day and need to look more presentable than not. I also have a kitten that practically tries to murder me once the lights turn on and she gets in the room, so once I’m up, I am up. Whereas in years past a 5:50am alarm would’ve been a real struggle, I’m managing to make something out of the half hour of consciousness I’ve got before driving to work.

If I’m lucky, I’ve gotten up early enough to quickly rinse. I’m a night shower-er but if I can throw myself under some water in the AM I feel my absolute best and most awake. It’s not necessary to me, but going to work feeling totally clean is the best. It’s the ultimate feeling of preparedness. I’ll cleanse with Glossier Milky Jelly and spritz on a Lush toner while my face is still wet. I wait for that to dry a bit and pat on some of Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Essence- very expensive but I hate to say it, I think it’s making the biggest long-term difference in my skin. I’ll wait for makeup after that and not add any more skincare layers. Otherwise my face feels too moist and I feel like I’m sweating.

Makeup is fast in the morning. I put a bit of NARS Creamy Radiant concealer on my undereyes and on the inner corners of my eyes, along the sides of the bridge of my nose where it’s always really dark. I call those the little “caves” of your eyes- they get so dark and that’s the key spot to brightening them. I also put some under my nostrils and a tiny bit around my lips where things are discolored. I blend that all out with my fingers and maybe add some BareMinerals Complexion Rescue around the rest of my face. If you like that dewy, glowy look, this is the stuff for you. Or instead I just blend out some Glossier Stretch concealer where it’s needed. I go by the KatieJane Hughes method and treat that stuff like a solid tinted moisturizer.

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Eyeshadow is typically something I skip because I get too ambitious too quickly with it, but if I have two minutes I’ll buff out a couple creamy, sparkly brown shadows with a cream shadow brush. I love Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze mixed with Trish McEvoy’s cream shadow stick in Topaz. They’re really pretty blended out together all around the eye. I’ve also just tried the crystal-infused eyeshadow from Victoria Beckham’s new line in Mink and it’s crazy sparkly and flattering. Basically anything brown or bronze with sparkle works. The mascara that packs the fastest punch is Flower Beauty’s Warrior Princess one. I’ll use CoverGirl Clump Crusher to separate and define a bit, but the Flower one gives all the impact. And I never use eyeliner in the morning. That requires like, three products for it to be perfect.

Blush is either a cooler pink or a warmer shade, which then determines my lip color because we can’t have things clashing too much. NARS Exhibit A gives the most impact with the least amount of product. Anyone else weird about using only the least amount of product possible? I feel like I’m trying not to run out of things but then I end up with makeup that’s three years old and still looks unused. It’s like a weird compulsion of mine.  But anyways, I could pick literally any blush and I’ll be happy with it. My lips usually end up with Glossier Generation G lipstick in Cake or Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus. I like Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution lipstick in Very Victoria, too. I prefer lips without much shine for everyday. Gloss is a such a look to me.

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If I have any more time left I’ll add highlight with MAC’s Mineralize powder in Soft and Gentle and maybe some contour with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light palette. I’ve had this angled brush from Sonia Kashuk forever that absolutely perfect for contouring. It’s old and there’s nothing like it.

Oh and almost forgot- eyebrows. If I leave the house without any other makeup on, it’s fine- but my brows are always fixed up. I use Maybelline’s Brow Drama crayon to fill in any sparse spots and set them with Glossier Boy Brow. I don’t pluck them, I don’t do anything to them other that.

Beyond all this I just add perfume. That and eyebrows are the essentials for me. There’s something humanizing about perfume; it makes you feel like you have a personality and perspective. Everyone says things like, “That’s a mood” or “That’s a vibe” but my mind always wants to say, “That’s a perspective.” I have several different roller balls so I just sort of choose what suits me that day, but nothing too powerful. I’m finishing off My Burberry Black right now and just bought a bottle of Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. It’s sweet but very warm.

If you’re interested in seeing the full look put together, my July post features a selfie. But be aware- my hair is also done, which really doesn’t happen on weekday mornings. That would require something like a 5:15am alarm, and we all know that’ll never happen. xo, MR

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What I’m Using: July 2019

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a Dallas hotel bar two days into a week of training for my husband’s new job. Last week consisted of a cross-country drive alongside Route 66 from Chicago to our new home in Orange County, CA. And over the weekend, we received the keys to our new apartment before flying back out to Dallas. I’m not sure which time zone I’ve been sleeping in lately, I’ve gone from humid to dry and back again all within less than a week, and my skin has been breaking out in little bumps like crazy (pretty sure my pores are super clogged from fast-food cheeseburgers and hotel pillows). But, I’ve managed skin and hair and a small makeup routine regardless of being on the road in Missouri, wandering around in Santa Fe, or meeting new folks in Dallas. It’s been pretty fun, and here’s what I’ve been using:

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Flower Beauty Warrior Princess Mascara

So, a few months ago I discovered L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara. Flower Beauty’s Warrior Princess is their answer to that formula, but it’s even better. I tried it alone when I used it for the first time and let me tell you, when I can get my lashes the way I want them with just onemascara, that is the strongest seal of approval I can give you. It’s phenomenal. My lashes are thick, way longer, and inky black (“royal black” is the shade’s name, in fact) with just a couple coats. I think it’s actually sped up my routine because I’m confident enough to use it by itself when finishing my eye makeup- I don’t feel the need to use two or three different kinds, which is kind of a thing with me.

Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Shadow and Liner stick in Topaz

I walked into my local BlueMercury store in Illinois a final time before departing the state, and a lovely woman named Magda working for Trish McEvoy asked if she could play around with my makeup. I let her know I really couldn’t purchase much, but I figured it couldn’t be a bad way to spend twenty minutes if I was clear enough about that. She used one of their new shadow and liner sticks by applying it all over my lid, then buffing it out with a cream shadow brush, and lastly lining my eyes with it for extra definition. The formula is extra creamy, almost gel-like. She used a smoky, not-too-warm shade of brown called Topaz. I don’t know what it is about shimmery brown shadows but I probably have a million of them, and I had to have this one too. I used it frequently during our road trip because it was soeasy and gave such nice sparkle. I especially love blending it with Maybelline’s Bad to the Bronze cream shadow on my lid (that’s another good one).

Glossier Stretch Concealer

I did not give this concealer its proper attention for far too long. I’ve often favored a longer-lasting, slightly more heavy duty concealer, and while that works for my more “makeup-y” days, Glossier’s Stretch is such a good formula for the lighter, dewier looks I wear more frequently. What’s more is that I’ve been using it the KatieJane Hughes way lately- treating it as a solid tinted moisturizer by using it all over my face in spots that need a bit of coverage, and foregoing foundation altogether. On summer days when my complexion is looking even and luminous, I’ll just buff out a bit of Stretch in discolored spots and call it a day. Another great hack for road trips!

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

This is a no-brainer, but stretching out my hair between washes has been quite the necessity this past month. So many of my hair products are packed away and I’ve had to carefully choose which ones to keep in my suitcase (not enormous, least likely to spill open). And at times, digging through my stuff to get to my curling iron or flat iron has been such a pain that I’ve just given up and thrown everything up in a sad bun. Fortunately, I managed to grab a travel sized bottle of Living Proof’s dry shampoo to keep my hair in good shape when I have put in the effort to wash, dry, and wave it.

Anything you’ve been using on the road this summer, or even just on vacation? Let me know, but I’m not gonna lie- I can’t wait to unpack my stuff in August and get back to using my regular stuff! xo, MR

The Truth About Cat Eyeliner

Some things are not quite what they seem.

For instance, spring in Chicago.  You may imagine a fairly sunny season full of warmth, flowers, and the occasional rain shower because that’s what spring is always pictured to be, but it definitely snowed all day last Friday and dipped into the 20s.  Or it can happen with plot twists in a movie- you see things one way, and then you’re thrown for a loop and it turns it HE’S ACTUALLY A DEAD PERSON, TOO.

No spoilers.

But anyhow, I believe the same can be said for cat eyeliner.  Ah yes, cat eyeliner.  The sharp lines, the pitch black color, the precise and even wings.  The look of retro glamour and cool chicks everywhere (though I tend to prefer a small wing which I refer to as “kitten liner”, as seen in the picture below).  And cat eyeliner is an intimidating feat to pull off because it requires such precision and steady hands, right?  You see the look on a friend and you think Gee, how did she manage to not mess that up?

But you know, I’m convinced that the process of creating a great cat eye isn’t as bold or precise or perfect as the look itself.  I find that creating a cat eye requires a lot more resourcefulness and flexibility rather than the exactness of a surgeon.  And I believe the look is easier to achieve than we might think.  Below, a couple tips on giving it your very best shot, no med school required:

1.  I use a different method nearly every single time, and I use a different kind of liner nearly every single time.  There is no one right way to do cat eyeliner, and I mean this quite literally.  You can do the trick with the credit card, holding it up to the corner of your eye and drawing your “wing” along the edge of it.  You can do the trick with the angled brush where you essentially play connect-the-lines and make a sort of mini triangle on top of your lids that you then color in.  You can create your cat-eye with eyeshadow first and then go over it with liner.  You can do the weird trick with Scotch tape.  You can use liquid, shadow, pencil, or gel.  You can do whatever you want, and you can do it differently each time.  And for those that are able to create the perfect freehand cat eye, well, your hands are steady and I give you props for it.  But that’s not most of us.  And I can’t exactly give you my own tried and true method for cat eyeliner because the process is different for me almost every time I do it.

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I typically use about two products to create cat eyeliner that I’m happy with- one to create the precise lines, and one to color it all in, get the shade of black I want, and perhaps add thickness to the lines.  If I’m lucky, I can pull it off with just one of the two.  I almost always start with L’Oreal’s Infallible Super Slim Liner or Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner because they’re skinny enough to make small moves and create tight, precise lines in my inner eye area.  What I use after that could be Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Liner in Black (the most long-lasting of any I’ve tried and what I most frequently use) paired with an angled brush, Maybelline Eye Studio Master Graphic Liner (good color, capable of creating thick lines, but very messy), or occasionally an eye pencil like one from MAC.  I typically don’t use eye pencil for cat eyeliner because it’s hard to get a precise, neat look with pencil.  I may use one to color things in and add depth, though.

The eyeliner itself, however, isn’t my greatest and most useful tool when creating a cat eye.  And this brings me to my next point …

2.  Rather than trying to create perfect liner, just do your best and then erase or conceal what you don’t like.   My favorite trick involves a bit of working backwards- do your very best freehand cat eyeliner, and then take an Almay Makeup Eraser Stick and simply “erase” what you don’t want until it looks right.  This allows for editing and correcting your own mistakes without starting all over, and eliminates the painstaking effort of trying not to mess up.  Next, with a small concealer brush, touch up the area around the eyeliner with concealer to clean it up and keep the skin looking even.  The skin around my eyes can be very discolored, so concealer in a few select places really neatens things up when I have eye makeup on.  You can even do the “erasing” part of this trick with concealer itself, using it to cover up the parts of the wing you don’t want.

Speaking of discoloration around the eye area, I also like to add eyeshadow all across the lid in some kind of nude or neutral shade to even out that area, too.  When the undereye area looks even and clean but the lid looks greasy or reddish, it drives me bonkers.  I like to use MAC’s eyeshadow in Orb for this purpose.

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3.  But this all being said, you should quit when you’re ahead.  You know those memes where people start applying winged liner, only to look like Amy Winehouse five seconds later?  You know that’s happened to you.  It’s very easy to overshoot it with cat eyeliner because the perfectionist in you thinks just a little bit more will do the trick.  However, there have been times where my eyeliner has looked like a solid A- effort, and then my next couple moves have ruined it (especially when I try to make the wings longer or completely and visibly even), sending me into Winehouse territory and forcing me to start over.  So, my advice is if it’s looking pretty good, stop.  It’s good enough!  This is why the majority of times I end up with “kitten” liner, because I know that if I try to take it one step further I may screw up what’s already looking just fine.  But seriously, don’t sweat the little imperfections.  Cat eyeliner is almost never perfectly even.  Load up on the mascara and barely anyone will know the difference.  And if they do, well, they’re probably a makeup artist and they probably get paid to notice things like that.

4.  Lastly, do NOT forget about eyebrows.  Strong eyeliner paired with weak eyebrows creates an odd and noticeable imbalance.  It’s like a beautiful work of art without any kind of frame.  If you’re wearing cat eyeliner, at least use a gel or wax like Glossier’s Boy Brow to brush up your eyebrows and steady them in place.  You don’t necessarily need to stencil in big thick ones or do anything crazy, but just be sure they’re present.  A groomed eyebrow will complement cat eyeliner quite nicely.

So next time you give cat (or kitten!) eyeliner a try, tag me in your best selfie and show me how it turned out!  And if the whole effort goes to crap and you have to start all over again, relax- it’s only makeup.  xo, MR

Vid Tutorial: Concealer For Beginners

Concealer is weird.  We grow up thinking it’s just for zits, and then we transition into thinking it’s just for dark undereye circles.  Well, I’m here to tell you that that ain’t the case!  Check out my first tutorial (well, real tutorial) on how and where to apply concealer. There’s so much more you can do with it besides just covering up a pimple!  xo, MR