My Personal Makeup Overhaul ::: A New Series

Every so often, friends of mine will tell me, "Sam, I really need to revamp my makeup.  I've had the same eyeliner/foundation/blush since high school/college.  I don't mind spending money, just tell me what to buy!"

And I feel equal parts excited and super unqualified.

Here's why:  most of my career has involved bridal beauty.  It's a totally different beast than personal cosmetics - it needs to work, it needs to stay in the rain, wind, tears, 10+ hours and 1000 hugs and kisses, and look equally beautiful in photos as in real life.  To the benefit of the MUA (makeup artist) it needs to have the most impact with the least amount of work in applying, and it needs to be relatively universally flattering and effective since we work with a wide spectrum of skin types and tones.

And like most of my friends, with the busyness of life and not caring about it all too much, my personal kit looks like a potluck of newbies and oldies, about 30% of which I use regularly.  I have one eyeshadow that I have used as a brow powder for probably 10 years.  (I know I know,  I feel like the MUA-police is going to come slap me on the wrist!)  I have a combo of green/natural/clean products (like Beauty Counter) and Sephora standards (like Benefit, a personal fave!)  

Now that I'm taking a wee bit of a step back from doing makeup on other people, I have felt this desire to go back to my first love - personal care and beauty.  And I'm endeavoring to overhaul my personal kit product by product, while keeping you in the loop!

Things I'm looking for:

  • Green/natural/clean beauty - The terms are a little vague, but you get the point.  Like many of my friends, I care that what I put on my face isn't filled to the brim with weird or harmful chemicals.  Cosmetics are the least regulated consumer industry out there, so companies are able to get away with putting all kinds of terrible things in the products we put on our faces, eyes, and lips in the name of youthfulness, perfection, and working miracles.  And since our skin is the most absorbent of all our organs, I really want to focus on giving my skin kind beauty products that will help, not hurt.
  • Has skin benefits, if possible - if it's gonna be on my face all day every day, I want my skin to be soaking in helpful ingredients to help with fine lines, wrinkles, acne, pores, etc.
  • Multi-use - I'm looking for products that could potentially have multiple uses, like a lip/cheek duo
  • Natural finish - I love a very natural approach to makeup while still keeping it fun with a punch of color on the eyes, lips, or cheeks on any given day.  I generally don't use eyeliner and love my skin to take center stage, looking natural and luminous, which can be a feat since I have some significant acne scarring (thanks, cystic acne + hormones)
  • It works - One thing I've noticed about cleaner beauty products is that sometimes, they just don't work for very long.  I want to find the ones that will provide decent coverage and stay for at least half the day!

So you can know what I'm working with and translate some of my findings to apply to yourself, below are the deets on my skin/colorings!

My Skin Profile:

  • Oily/Combination skin - I get really dry nostrils (random, I know) but am fairly dewy/oily everywhere else
  • Acne prone - I had gorgeous skin in high school, but as soon as I turned 22 my skin went into major havoc mode with cystic acne.  The painful kind that leaves bruises and scars!  What a mess!  It's definitely more under control now,  but I like to choose cosmetics that won't put me at greater risk of breakouts
  • Light to Medium Light color -  I'm definitely not the fairest color in the foundation bunch, even in the dead of winter, but I'm usually the next 2 up from there depending on the season.
  • Pink undertones
  • Dark brown eyes/brownish hair, just colored a bit blonde for the summer (thanks Ally at Culture Hair Studio in Durham!)
Image by the beautiful Gina Zeidler!

Image by the beautiful Gina Zeidler!

My Current Lineup:

This is where it gets embarrassing, y'all.  My pro kit is immaculate, with hoooours of research going into each itty bitty product.  My personal kit is little more worn in, well-loved, or ignored completely, cause ya know, I am a normal human.

  • FACE - Garnier Skin Perfector BB Cream for Oily/Combo skin in Light/Medium - this has been a favorite of mine for the last 3 years or so.  I seriously have yet to find a cleaner alternative even with a decent amount of research and trial/error!  It's a natural, glowy finish with great coverage and SPF.  It's not too thick or creamy, and has a bit of a runnier consistency which I like in a BB cream/foundation!  This one might be hard to beat.
  • CONCEALER-  Femme Couture's Get Covered Maximum Coverage Concealer in Medium - another serious favorite of mine that I keep on LOCK in my pro kit!!  And guess what?  It's a Sally's brand.  I KNOW.  I stumbled upon it and decided to give it a whirl personally, and loved it so much I bought every shade for my kit.  It's creamy, blendable, and provides amazing coverage.  My only complaints are not-so-clean ingredients, and it can crease if not blended well.
  • PRIMER - Benefit's PoreFessional - another pro and personal FAAAVE.  It's velvety, hides pores and fine lines beautifully, and evens out skin tone all in one sweep across the face.  I do not use primer every day, but when I work weddings or have a date night, I'll opt in for this as my first step.  I want to find something similar that is clean and perhaps a little glowy-er of a finish.
  • BROWS - the oldest shade of Ulta-brand brown eyeshadow of ALL TIME applied with a fine-tip angled brush, and/or a sweep of Glossier Boy Brow in brown.  I like the softness provided with a powder and brush, but also like that a gel like Boy Brow keeps the hairs in place.  Definitely would love a clean and soft all-in-one, if possible.
  • EYESHADOW - my mom gave me this duo freebie from Clinique (comparable is Morning Java) and, since I don't use eyeshadow that often, and I like copper/browns, it has done the trick for a while.  Definitely looking for a few more color options, matte and shimmer, that has cleaner ingredients.
  • MASCARA - Benefit's RollerLashI don't know if I will relent from this one.  I love it SO MUCH.  It's the best formula and applicator!  BUT I do want to see what natural options are out there, so we shall see!
  • BLUSH - BeautyCounter Color Sweep Blush Duo in Flamingo/Apricot - Ok, so this blush is one that fits all my criteria, so I'll just be on the lookout for other options in other colors!  (Thanks Jo for recommending this to me!)
  • SETTING POWDER - Benefit's Dandelion - I don't always use a setting powder, but when I want a really soft finish and to make sure I don't get super oily, I will only ever grab this!! It has been a fave since high school.  It can also be used as a very light blush.  I'll be looking for pink, nude, and translucent powders that are comparable.
  • BRONZER - another Clinique duo (comparable) that my mom gave me a couple of years ago, after which I dropped and the blush broke to pieces, and I still use the bronzer because I don't often use bronzer and it's just nice to have.  YEP!  This will be a fun one for me to explore, because I don't have too many criteria!  Creamy, powder, shimmery, matte - whatever.  Let's see what green options we have here!
  • HIGHLIGHTER - Benefit's Watts Up - again, I use this in my pro and personal kit!  I don't use it every day,  but it's fun to add a little zhuzzh to a finished look!  This is such a fun category, and I'm excited to find creamy, liquid, or powder versions that are clean and green!
  • LIP/CHEEK TINT - Benefit's BeneTint - love love love this.  It's one of those fun wildcards in my kit that can make me feel super flushed and natural.  Again, I don't use this daily, but I want to find natural tints that might do the job.
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I'll be going through category by category with my favorite finds that fit all my criteria!  Let me know if you have any recommendations!

On a mission,

Sam