My mom never really taught me how to use makeup. I remember sneaking into the bathroom, pulling out random cosmetics and slathering them onto my face not really understanding their purpose but enjoying what I saw in the compact mirror’s reflection. As a result of not knowing how to apply what to where, I focused heavily on lip products since you just swipe ’em on and sometimes lick it off because Lip Smackers smell real good and then reapply as necessary. Even during high school and college, the most I would do makeup-wise is swipe some drugstore mascara on my lashes and a little foundation that probably didn’t match my skintone to cover up some zits.
Then I graduated and got my first legitimate job. I was living in northern Iowa on my lonesome and earning an extremely inadequate-but-impressive-at-the-time salary and nothing to spend this sudden disposable income on. Enter: YouTube. I’m fairly sure 2009 could be considered The Year of the Beauty Guru because they were everywhere – teaching you how to seamlessly blend your eye shadow and showing where you should actually be applying your blush (spoiler: not on the apples of your cheeks!!!). They were just so dang helpful and, even more so, enabling as far as making certain products coveted to their viewership. Missglamorazzi uses a Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner because it applies effortlessly without tugging? You need it! And so sprung my obsession because I, too, deserved eyeliner that goes on smoothly, right? Right?
My first splurge was on a Tarte eyeshadow palette. It was terrible, enough so that a makeup novice could tell. The second splurge, however, is something I use to this day: Urban Decay’s Naked palette. Once receiving it, I immediately went to trusty YouTube and found a girl who showed me which shades worked well together and why, then how to apply the base, crease and highlighter colors. This visual, almost paint-by-numbers, way of explaining how to make sense of the products totally clicked with me. It made this entire process FUN. This is honestly why it takes me so long to get ready: I’m having a pretty wonderful time deciding whether a pink or dusty rose blush would best complement my outfit and what type of eye look I want to go for. It’s not as much about covering up or hiding imperfections as some may think.
I’ll delve more into my relationship with makeup and my holy-grail products in future beauty-related posts, but for now I’ll show you the goods I recently picked up at Sephora. Product names are also links to where you can find out more or purchase them through Sephora’s website.
This is one of the most luxurious products I have purchased and will continue to repurchase. It’s heavenly on the face after moisturizing or even if you skip that step. This is my favorite way to prep my face before applying foundation. After having gone through a few of the 1-ounce, glass bottle versions with a pump, I was happy to see they offered a larger size and in tube-form. With the pump version, you could hardly get any product out from the bottom, rendering the last handful of applications useless. The tube is a more expensive option but also allows you to use every single last drop. For reference, this is how a glass bottle looks when its met its demise (look how much is left!):
Well, that name is a mouthful. This concealer is also a repurchase, though I opted for light/neutral instead of the fair/light I previously used. Since it’s so creamy, I use this not only on little spots around my face but also underneath my eyes. While brightening up that under-eye area is important, the fairest shade looked almost comical on me, so I went for the darker shade and, so far, it’s doing its job.
Swatchy, swatchy. It lives up to its name: weightless and offers good coverage. Simple. I’ve consistently chosen this one over the very similar NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer because I like its wider, easier-to-use brush.
Benefit launched a whole brow-product line in the last month or two that includes pencils, gels, a primer (!?) – any which way you want to fill in your brows and ensure they stay put, Benefit has you covered. Up till now, I’d remained loyal to Anastasia of Beverly Hills’ Brow Wiz, which I like due to how tiny the pencil is so you can “recreate” brow hairs more precisely but this impulse purchase may make me a convert to a potted cream/gel.
It comes with a tiny angled brush built into the cap, which is super handy, and is also really tiny for precise application. What I like most is how quickly you can achieve a wide swath of coverage with just a few swipes. There’s a definite technique to the brows and while I haven’t totally harnessed it, this product is getting me a step closer. One mildly quirky aspect of the Ka-BROW: The color you see when you first twist it open is not the color you get once you dig in with a brush. I chose shade 2 which ended up a bit dark on me.
Cosmetic brands have recently been cashing in on collaborations with YouTube beauty gurus for collections or one-off products. This face palette is part of an entire collection that was created using input from Jaclyn Hill, who has nearly 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube. My purchasing this palette was driven by: 1. Wanting to support a creator, 2. Becca’s usual stunning quality of makeup, 3. Actually needing any of these blushes or highlights. Let’s take a moment for the peel-back of this covering film before getting to the colors:
Oh yeah. That felt good. OK, this is what’s inside:
They blushes are pretty. They’re good quality. Not really groundbreaking as far as the shades go. They’re fine. But the highlighters are genuinely some of the nicest I’ve ever felt and applied. They look so glittery to the point of grittiness in the pan but are actually extremely soft. These will give you a glow like none other. My other favorite highlight is also from Becca in the shade Opal and I’d say the quality between it and the ones included in the palette are the same. Some brands fall into a quality pitfall when they try packaging products into palettes so I tend to avoid them, but am happy to have splurged on this for Champagne Pop and Prosecco Pop alone.
From bottom to top: Rosé Spritz (luminous blush), Amaretto (mineral blush), Pamplemousse (mineral blush, s/o to all my La Croix drinkers), Champagne Pop (shimmering skin perfector, pressed), Prosecco Pop (shimmering skin perfector pressed).
Skincare is not one of my favorite items to purchase but they’re pretty important in creating a solid base for applying all of your makeup. My skin used to be oily, then combination and is still combination but leans to the dry side. How fun! I have no loyalty to any particular line of skincare so if I hear someone mention a moisturizer or face cleanser they enjoy, I’ll make a mental note and buy it once I use up whatever I have on hand at the time. One of my favorite YouTube personalities, Rachel Whitehurst, swore by this moisturizer for years for her dry skin so I finally made the plunge. I apply it sparingly after hopping out of the shower – it goes on fairly weightlessly, but is actually intense as its name states. Apply more at the end of the day for an almost overnight mask feel.
Mmm lip products, my wheelhouse, it is so good. You know when you’ve finally finished all your laps around Sephora, repurchasing things you really do need and also throwing in a few you just want to try, and then they force you through the tiny-product aisle before reaching the register? It’s cruel and awesome. That’s where I found this lip balm. Too Cool For School is the brand (???) and Dinoplatz lip balm is, I guess, the name of the line (???). The color: Peach melba.
It’s pretty, not sticky and does make my dry lips feel more moisturized and PLUMP after slathering some on. Potted lip balms aren’t a favorite of mine because applying them with a finger can be a hassle but this one caught my eye and does the trick. It doesn’t do much in the way of adding color to your lips which I’m fine with because I usually put it on without a mirror and I don’t want to worry about color going outside the lines of my lips.
Another item I didn’t need but, boy, did I want it. Liquid lipsticks are my preferred form of lipstick because they’re easier to put on and they stay put. Kat Von D’s are some of my favorite but are matte and can be drying though not completely uncomfortable. The “whipped” part in this product’s name caught my eye and it truly does go on with that type of consistency. It also stays put fairly well from what I’ve experienced, but this color — a “warm nude” — doesn’t do all that much for me but that’s more a problem in my not being daring enough to try a deeper shade than the product itself. That being said, it’s nice to throw on when I don’t want to think too much.
That wraps up my first beauty-related post! Find anything you might pick up on your next trip to Sephora, or have another product in mind I might like?