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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The Three Products I Don’t Leave Home Without.

As 2013 begins to wrap up, I’m starting to mull over a “Best of” and “Worst of” post for this year concerning all things beauty.  For whatever reason, those posts were really easy last year.  So much seemed to happen in 2012 concerning things like celebrity pixie cuts, heavy makeup seen on camera, and my own discovery of some amazing beauty blogs.  I suppose it’s easy when you haven’t written a “Best of” post before, but this year I’m finding it a bit tough.  So, perhaps I’ll manage to turn something out more along the lines of “Best Products of 2013”, but we’ll see.

But for now, I’m concerned mostly with one thing- getting through the next couple weeks at work leading up to Christmas break.  I’m literally hours away from going back to work after a week off for Thanksgiving, and  let me tell you, this week was the worst kind of teaser.  There was so much shopping, so much sleeping, and so much eating.  I stayed up and watched Psycho one night and a David Lynch film the next night.  My husband and I spent one night at a gorgeous resort in Palm Springs.  And all this revelry went by in a blink.  Combine this sort of holiday hangover with the fact that I’m notoriously bad at waking up at a reasonable time and I can already tell you that tomorrow morning is going to suuuuuuck.

So you see, I’m just concerned about getting through the next twelve hours.  You’d think with a full-time job I would’ve learned to wake up with my alarm and allow myself the time to enjoy a getting-ready routine (you know, with coffee and eyeshadow and morning prayers and Disney cartoon birds singing to you), but noooooooo.  I’m still a zombie.  My husband still has to drag me out of bed about fifteen minutes before I need to literally be in my car on the road.  I have strong feelings about this needing to change and my frustrations with myself are never-ending, and I know I’ve posted on this subject matter before, but for now, here’s my question …

What do I do, as far as beauty is concerned, to not look like a trainwreck when I’m going from bed to desk in a matter of a half-hour?

Well, as far as the hair is concerned, it depends on how it looks when I get up.  Sometimes it’s in well enough shape to just stay down, but it frequently goes up into some kind of knot with a black  headband for a little polish.  But beyond that, it’s really the makeup that I’m concerned with here.  And for these mornings of terror that are more reminiscent of 28 Days Later than The Devil Wears Prada, I rely on the following three products:

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Alright, what have we got here?  That would be lip balm, eyebrows, and undereye concealer.  When I wake up, one of the first things I notice is how dry my lips are.  And it only gets worse once I’ve brushed my teeth.  That has to go, and Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (the original, in case you’re wondering) is the only product I will use.  The menthol brings a tingly sensation of immediate relief, and I only find myself reapplying it once or twice more during the day (which is a good thing, by the way).  The Burt’s Bees is more of a necessity than anything, and if absolutely nothing else makes it on my face that morning, this does.

I’ve started filling in and brushing my eyebrows just within the past year or so because I’ve found that it makes such a difference in how polished one can look.  Brows frame your face and give it expression; I’ve grown much more fascinated with them over the past two years.  The best product I’ve used in the past year is the CK One Color Brow Pencil + Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  The convenience of the product obviously sold me, because it’s more than just a pencil (and the pencil is also self-sharpening).  I used to think I absolutely had to walk out the door with mascara on, but when I’ve seen pictures of myself with full mascara and yet ungroomed brows, things just look … I don’t know … like I’ve made the wrong choice?  I guess I’ve grown to prefer a more European standard of good skin and good brows over the years as opposed to color on the face and well-done hair, and so I’ve adjusted my emergency routine to that preference.  When I pull into the parking lot, before I step out of the car I tend to do a quick one-minute brow check.  I tend to feel much more confident with just that one minute’s work.

And finally, we’re at concealer.  I don’t waste my time trying to conceal zits or spots or anything like that.  I just let my zits deal with nature when I have them.  It’s only the dark circles underneath my eyes that I’m concerned with.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve been told how tired I look at work (yeah, I know).  It’s not that I’m shocked, because I know I’m tired.  It’s more just the fact that one will actually say this to another person that I find so frustrating.  If one looks tired, how about saying something that might perk their spirits up?  Or ask them a question about how their day has been?  Just avoid the “You look tired” comment entirely; it conveys neither empathy nor genuine concern.  And it also makes you appear spoiled.

And so, if I must fool the folks I see on a regular basis, I choose to fool with undereye concealer.  For a drugstore choice, I recommend L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Concealer.  The shade range is highly impressive, it’s thin consistency is fantastic, and it does a great job at reflecting light.  For two high-end options, I like NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Yves Saint Laurent Touche’ Eclat.  I’m actually still giving my YSL product its first real go-round because I just exchanged my original purchase for my correct shade, and so we’ll see if it tops the NARS.  However, I do like that the YSL can also be used as a highlighter on the cheek bones, brow bones, and other areas where light hits the face.  It’s specifically meant to reflect light and give a bit of glow.

So in conclusion, a little polish of the brows, a bit of cover-up for the dark circles, and some moisture for the lips carries me through my work days.  If I, by some miracle, manage to get up any earlier, I still tend to just push for basics like face makeup and blush.  And moisturizer with sunscreen.  Good Lord, the fact that I can’t even make that happen every day is devastating.  I guess I really can’t expect too much from myself, and yet, you wonder why this continues to be the case as I continue writing this at 11:45PM on a Sunday evening.  xo, MR