I have talked about this a few times on Instagram, and shared with a few friends, but one of my goals for this year of taking better care of myself, revolves around my skin. I feel good about my daily skincare routine, but I have never really figured out the best makeup products for my skin or put much effort into any kind of daily makeup routine. For some reason, now that I am in my 30s (and a tired mom of a toddler), I've been growing increasingly interested in having a better idea of how to properly apply makeup and the best products for my needs. I have spent the past few months researching, watching Instagram tutorials of bloggers that I respect and like their makeup choices, and trying a few samples of products before investing in any full-sized version. I went to makeup stores, tried different products and colors, and even hired a makeup artist for help.
This past weekend, as a birthday treat to myself, I paid a local makeup artist to come to our apartment and spend a hour and a half looking through the products I narrowed my search down to, demonstrating how to properly apply to one side, and then talk me through me applying to the other side of my face. It was SO much fun! If you're also interested in learning more about makeup application, check out local makeup artists in your area and see what kinds of services they offer - they aren't just for special photoshoots or weddings. The lovely woman that I worked with will go shopping with you and help you narrow down the right colors and products for your skin type, will come to your apartment to help with application (like she did for me), and hosts customized parties for groups of friends or a shower (along with also doing events, weddings, photoshoots, etc). If you live in New York City and are interested, just comment below and I'll link to her website.
If you want to see how I look without makeup, you can friend request me on Instagram (I only accept follows from friends & family). Otherwise for a made-up look, here's a photo from Two Pair Photography on my wedding day almost seven years ago, all done up. This collection of photos is from our wedding feature on Style Me Pretty.
Without further adieu, if you are interested in upping your makeup game and would like to know more about my exact process, here's a step-by-step:
1) Research cruelty-free and vegan brands and products through Peta and Cruelty-Free Kitty.
2) Check out Cruelty-Free Kitty's shopping guides and product guides for reviews, products, and pricing information. Tip: Not all cruelty-free products have to cost insane amounts of money.
3) Read product reviews on Sephora, Ulta, Amazon, etc.
4) Look up your favorite bloggers on Instagram, most have makeup tutorials and tend to wear a lot less than YouTube makeup artists. They will probably give you a better sense of what products you actually need for every-day usage.
5) Go to Sephora, Ulta, your local drugstore, etc and check out the products in person. Sephora and Ulta have store employees that can help you find the best color for you and will provide additional product recommendations. Tip: They may try to convince you to buy something you don't need. Be strong. If you don't like eye liner, you don't need it. If you don't like foundation (like me), don't buy it. p.s. If they sway you, most stores have great return policies. Don't use the products, take them back.
6) Go home and start playing around with makeup application. Put it on in different light settings, in different rooms, with a recently cleaned mirror. Use your fingers, a clean brush or sponge. Tip from the local makeup artist: If you have dry skin, try liquid or non-powder products. If you have more oily or combination skin, try powders.
After a bunch of research and watching several makeup tutorials, I decided that the main products I needed for every-day usage were (and would be applied as follows):
1) Rosehip Oil (been using for well over a year)
2) Foundation Primer (I LOVE this stuff!)
3) Tinted Moisturizer (been using for almost 2 years)
5) Setting Powder
6) Brow Gel
7) Mascara (most days)
For someone who only used rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer daily for the past two years, this is obviously a huge change. It took a little longer initially each morning, but now I can apply it all pretty quickly. I have never liked foundation, and so even though the Sephora sales clerk initially convinced me to buy some when I went into their store, I wound up returning it as I prefer keeping things really light with my tinted moisturizer (CC or BC cream is also a great foundation alternative option for people that like a less made-up look). I initially bought a Tarte concealer from Sephora, but after sampling it at the store, by the time I got home I was not happy with how it held up. I wound up returning it and buying this much less expensive e.l.f. concealer, and I like it SO much more! If you were starting totally from scratch, investing in all of these exact same products up-front would be about $120. I already owned the rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer though, so I spent about half that amount.
Before going into this experiment, I had no idea how to use makeup brushes or sponges, so I didn't want to spend a ton on either. I did some research and found a nice middle-ground option for both (which turned out to be the same brand the makeup artist I worked with uses!). I bought this base set of brushes and sponge from Ulta. I read a lot about this in my research process, but it's also a bit more obvious as an adult, that it is super important to keep these very clean as you're probably using them every single day. When cleaning the brushes, do not get the base of the bristles wet as it will destroy your brush. I heard really good things about this sponge cleanser, which I can now say works great, and I use it to clean both the sponge and brushes. Altogether, those three items cost me an additional $30 from Ulta and e.l.f.
Keep in mind that, if well taken care of, a lot of these products will not require regular replacement (the brushes, sponge, or cleanser) and all of the products I listed are used so sparingly, and have a long shelf life, so they will probably only need to be replaced 1 - 2 times per year. A perfect example is the tinted moisturizer. I thought that foundation primers were totally silly and unnecessary, so I bought the $16 sample size just to try it. It spreads so easily that you barely need any, but it also cut my tinted moisturizer use in half. I need so much less moisturizer now, because the primer reduces my skin's absorption of it. It is awesome and my skin feels so much smoother and better hydrated!
Second product I thought was completely unnecessary and a total marketing ploy? Setting powder. But guess what? If you workout with any products on, go outside when it's warm and start to glisten a little, find makeup on your collars or clothes on the regular - you need this setting powder. It is vegan, cruelty free, super highly reviewed, lasts a very long time, and I have seen a significant decrease in shine and reapplication needs (even after teaching a fitness class in a warm gym!). I do not make a commission or anything, I just really love it and am so glad I decided to try it. There are a few additional items that I also bought, which are certainly not necessary if you're trying to keep things within or under the $150 range, but I'll mention them below in case you want some additional options for every-day or going out usage.
If you are looking for a great alternative to traditional blush and eye shadow palettes, that can also be used for contouring and highlighting (yes, after meeting with the makeup artist, I have a better idea of what that means), I really like this contour palette for all of those things. I also bought this illuminating stick, though I honestly didn't 100% know what for at the time, but the makeup artist actually showed me how to use it as a blush (use your finger or a brush to apply to the apples of your cheek). The "pinkie dust" color works great for an every-day blush with my skin tone (the contour palette "blush" is a little better for evening use and goes on darker). Lastly, for when I'm really wanting to amp up my look for a night out on the town, I bought this retractable eye liner in brown and this lip gloss in "Creme Brulee". I will never be a lipstick person, but this gloss is really subtle, pretty and not overly sticky like others I have tried in the past.
If you click on the links for the last three products I mentioned, you'll get a better sense of what I was talking about earlier in this post when I mentioned that not all cruelty-free, vegan products have to be insanely expensive. The NYX eye liner that I bought is $5, had tons of great reviews, and the makeup artist that I worked with said it's her favorite eye liner (she even had it in her makeup bag!). If you're SUPER into eye liner and want something more intense, Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner may be more up your alley, but at a $15 difference for something I rarely wear, it wasn't worth it to me. Altogether, this entire combination of products would come in just under $200. Certainly not an inexpensive experiment, and yes, quite an investment. As I mentioned above, this is not a monthly, quarterly, or even an annual investment. But it IS an investment - in your skin and you. If you wear any kind of products, or want to start wearing more of them, please do your research on companies and consider cruelty-free options.
Still not convinced cruelty-free is the way to go? Read this article.
p.s. I am not associated with any of these brands or companies, and do not receive any commission or gifts for referring you to them. If you buy anything from this post, all I ask is that you come back here and comment below letting me know what you thought - good or bad. Also, if you have additional vegan, cruelty-free products or brands that you LOVE, please tell us all about them in the comments below!