At some point in recent history, I decided that I have no patience for makeup. In part, I like to sleep as late as humanly possible and still make it to work on time; in part, my bizarre foot problem (avascular necrosis of the sesamoid) has rendered me much less capable of standing in front of a mirror for any period of time that an extensive beauty routine might require; and, in part, I've decided that "natural" is so much, you know, cooler than "done up" (you see how one excuse justifies the next). I also like to bring my makeup with me "on the road" and apply on the go if necessary. Thus, I've arrived at a very speedy and foolproof makeup application process and lineup of products (all for around $100 in total and nothing more than ~$30 individually, but some items will last you for a really long time and are well worth the investment).
There are three keys to makeup success: bronzer, a worthy bronzer brush and eyes.
Bronzer is hands down the fastest way to bring your face to life. In a few quick swipes, you can go from sickly ("Oh, goodness, you just look exhausted today" - Gee, thanks...? You... too?) to glowing ("Oh my goodness, you look fabulous!" - Why, thank you! I do just naturally glow, don't I, dahling?). There are many great bronzers out there - Cargo, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, and Benefit all make lovely ones - but I've recently come back to an oldie but goodie and am pleased with the results (I ran out of it last month and bought another brand in a pinch to make do, and it's just not the same). For my pale complexion, I love bareMinerals All-Over Face Color in warmth, $19.00. The loose powder may seem unwieldy, but once you get the hang of it, you'll appreciate the control it allows you to have in terms of saturation and placement. Also the color "warmth" may seem like a lot for a pale, semi-freckly face, but it works well on skin with a pink undertone and really does add warmth to your appearance (if your skin's undertone is a bit more yellow, I might recommend the "faux tan" color instead). When going for gold in as little time as possible, I'm not a fan of "matching skin tones" (unless you're just trying to even out your complexion). I put bronzer on for a reason: to look more bronzed.
The Bronzer Brush
It may not seem like it, but splurging on the brush is really worth it - I have cheaped out on a "natural kabuki brush" at Duane Reade to keep at work and lived to regret it. After enough painful applications, it ended up in the trash and I ended up buying a good brush. I used to keep drug store make up at work and keep the "good stuff" at home, but I've since changed my tune. We all spend the majority of our lives at work and deserve to have some nice make up around to spruce up in the morning or before going out at night. A good brush will last you years (provided you clean it appropriately) and will feel lovely on your face (you'll thank yourself with every silky swipe of bronzer). If you want something small for on-the-go or for work, this bareMinerals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush, $28.00, at Sephora, is great. It gives you the benefits of a full-sized brush, but fits somewhat compactly in a makeup bag. This Sephora Collection Classic Must Have Large Powder Brush #30, $36.00, is also really nice (but more space intensive). Throw on a few light swipes of bronzer with these bad boys and don't look back.
While bronzer and the bronzer brush are key to the success of any makeup routine, the eyes are where you can get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of time spent and immediate facial improvement, and it can be done very quickly and will few tools. My favorite quick-and-dirty eye routine is as follows (this is again for someone with relatively pale skin, blue eyes and lightish hair, but is so neutral that it could be used on a variety of complexions, and shades can of course be varied to fit your personal needs and skin tone):
1. Apply this Sephora Collection Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner, $13.00. I use the "10 Matte Brown Black" and on occasion the "21 Matte Deep Plum" (great for blue eyes). It is super easy to use and stays on. I also like that this pencil is retractable and thus does not require sharpening.
2. Using your finger, swipe your lids generously with this amazing Benefit Cosmetics Creaseless Cream Shadow, $20.00, in "R.S.V.P." (a sparkling champagne color). It is literally foolproof and instantly brightens your eyes and face. This goes on so easily and has a lovely shimmer to it to add just a glimmer and a nice "I'm awake!" pop of sheen. Darker skin tones can try "rich fawn."
3. Comb brows lightly and sparingly apply this amazing Benefit Cosmetics Instant Brow Pencil, $20.00. You think you don't need an eyebrow pencil? You do. It will change your life. Get this one. It is so easy - so much easier than using powder - and it makes an insta-difference to your face. It goes quickly, so make sure you have a pencil sharpener handy because you'll need to sharpen every week or two (I normally wouldn't force you to buy something that requires sharpening, but this product is that good). I use the light-to-medium. I have tried to medium-to-dark as well, and it is nice if you want a more dramatic eye, but I prefer the light-to-medium.
4. Finish eyes off with a quick lash curl (if you have a curler) and a few swipes of this incredible Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 Mascara in 1 Black Satin, $15.00. I have the mini (I bought it on a whim while waiting in line at Sephora) and love, love, love it. Buy it. You'll thank me.
Steps 1-3 can be done in any order, but I usually like to end with Step 4. How long did all of that take? Like, maybe a minute. Go from blah to Blake Lively faster than your Keurig can make your coffee.
All of this is available at Sephora in stores or online. If you order online, all orders over $50 receive free 3-day shipping. I like to try things in store though. Make up is a personal choice and what works great for me might not be quite right for you, so I always recommend trying (some) make up out before making a big investment (if you'll recall my issues with sponges though, you'll understand why I recommend just buying the mascara and eyeliner without trying them - the germiness and possible contamination is just not worth it to me, and the mascara and eyeliner I've recommended are universally flattering and not wallet denting). Also, all of the products that I've suggested are so darn neutral too that they should very easily and flatteringly work on a variety of skin types.
Another plus? These are all excellent stocking stuffers and gifties for friends!
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.