The more make-up I have the more I feel bogged down by it; I love make-up lot but the more I have, the more I crave a make-up regime that can fit into my back pocket. Just like I crave a wardrobe with one perfect pair of jeans, one perfect t-shirt, one perfect dress, I crave just four cosmetics, all the absolute last word in effectiveness.
I also, of course, crave skin that needs no make-up. I battled with bad skin for years and years; I used to have to wipe out my entire face so that I could draw a new and acceptable one on. This strikes me now as tragic and not a thing I want to do anymore.
I find myself now investing more in things to maintain good skin (I am a huge fan of Decree skincare, despite it being ruinously expensive. Sorry I know I have said this before. I sometimes feel The Ordinary would help me, if I could only navigate their impenetrably complicated products.) I have also got this eye cream from Drunk Elephant, highly recommended by lots of people. I think it works, but then I am also not drinking and sleeping a lot, which might also make a difference.
But still the cosmetics pile up – I can’t resist things at duty-free, sometimes I buy something at a make-up counter out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
This extended moment we are having saw me having a really uplifting sort-and-clear out and I put away things I’m just not using, (mascara, lipstick, performance eyeshadow), and brought to the front a streamlined clutch of the things I am using. I also cleaned all my brushes and chucked out a lot of old mouldy stuff that really was a disgrace.
The other thing I did was to clean all my products. This sounds like a weird thing to do but it’s amazing what a difference it makes if you take a smeary bottle of product that has been rattling about in various bags and give it a good clean. It feels brand new again.
It’s like when you clean the washing-up liquid bottle!
Isn’t it? …hello…?
I do my make-up in the downstairs bathroom because it has the least bad light of anywhere in the house. I group things in a series of jars ranged from left to right in what order I use them.
In jar 1
No7 Dark Circles Corrector, which isn’t nearly as good as everyone says it is, along with my Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift, which is and alas also looks to be discontinued. Does anyone recommend a seriously good under-eye concealer?
In that jar I also keep my under-eye concealer brush, which isn’t that interesting or good so let’s just skip over that. I have just bought another one from My Kit Co because I had one from Real Techniques that was good but the bristles started coming out in fistfuls.
Also in the jar is my Milk make-up eyebrow gel in Haze. While I cannot stand that heavy eyebrow look, defining your brows subtly does help your face generally and this is very barely-there but effective. Last is my foundation bush, from Beauty Pie. I’m sure whichever one you have is just as good.
I wasn’t bothered about brushes for years, I just used my fingers. But once I started using them again I noticed what a massive difference they make. I even use a little face mask brush to put on my face sunscreen. Yes she has finally gone insane.
A side note: I also have a separate SPF for my face. A lot of people say “Why don’t you use a moisturiser with an SPF in it?” And my answer is because I am devoted to a skin range that doesn’t do a moisturiser with an SPF in it. And then other people say “Why don’t you use a tinted SPF?” and I say because sometimes I just want to wear the SPF on its own without make-up. So I have this from Sonia Dakar and I am very pleased with it.
At the moment I am using my Milk Make-Up Flex Foundation stick in Light Medium, I really love using a stick foundation, I’ve decided that this is what I am going to do forever. You just dot it all over your face then buff it in with the brush – there’s just so much less mess and it feels like this will last for absolutely ages. I have enjoyed using this, but for my next foundation I think I’m going to get the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick. Obviously I will have to wait and go to a counter for this as buying something like that without checking the colour first is asking for trouble.
In jar 2
My eyeliners. Enough said. There are currently seem to be about 40, but the one I rummage for is my Bobbi Brown Longwear Eye pencil in Mahogany, (I can’t find it anywhere online damn it), and if I am feeling in the mood, my Chanel Eyeliner pen. Gallingly this Chanel one is best one of the many I have tried and it thuds in at £31. But I have had it for ages and it is as precise and fresh as the day I got it.
In jar 3
My bronzer brush and blusher brush. Neither very exciting brushes. My bronzer is BareMinerals Sheer Bronze in Dark to Deep, which I have tried to find a link to and can’t find it anywhere and I am now panicking that it has been discontinued.
I have just taken delivery of a cream blusher that I am wildly excited about, (it has come to this), by a brand I’ve never heard of called Kjaer Weis.
It was recommended to me by my friend MC who is very enthusiastic about make-up and researches hard and buys only the best stuff. I had been having trouble with my blushers up until then; I had in my teens and twenties used very, very PINK blushers but these days I look faintly mad with it on, like I have stolen my mummy’s make-up and drawn big pink circles on my cheeks. This Kjaer Weis cream blush in Blossoming is a very grown-up and pleasing pink/terracotta mix.
This blusher came in a very heavy metal pot and the idea is that you keep the pot and buy a refill, which I really like the idea of.
I rarely carry make up around with me as, thank god, I don’t have to worry about zits showing through any more. And also, I’m not going anywhere at the moment. But when I eventually do again I will only take what will fit in my STOW cosmetics bag. This is ruinously expensive but it is probably the most luxurious thing I own.
How about you? What’s your make-up looking like right now? Please leave recommendations for the products you love right now in the handy box below.
The Trinny London BFF Eye serum/concealer has been life changing – my face looks entirely better, fresher, more awake when I apply it and I have tried everything. It is darker than most under eye concealers and this works really well. The consistency is also very smooth and it goes on beautifully and genuinely feels like a serum not a cakey concealer. I bought this despite having ignored the range for ages, thinking it was just a gimmick (with the little interlocking pots). I have tried several of the products now and they really work well. Particularly on 40+ skin. And the pots are really useful for when we are allowed to leave the house again – just the right size and very lightweight.
Ah Alison I have been dithering over whether to try this or not!! The Trinny pots I have tried have been very good so far. Hmmm…
The colour matching on the TL website is very helpful. It really is worth a try. I bought it after seeing Mia Freedman (mamamia.com.au)use it on her instagram stories.
You’re so funny please keep these posts coming. I too have had huge clearout and cleaned my brushes. But stupidly bought tons of NARS makeup online all of which is the wrong colour obvs!!!! I’ve also tried loads of The Ordinary products but cannot for the life of me understand the brand as was shit at science lol. And omg I’ve cleaned my washing up liquid bottle yes that’s a thing!!!!! Please explain Beauty Bay is it worth joining? Xxxx
Emma Dawson says
Make up has always been v minimal for me – I cannot for the life of me apply eyeshadow, have tried tinting my v fair eyebrows only to come out looking like Frida Kahlo and so rely on a sweep of a Mac ‘cubby stick’ lipstick, a curl of the eyelashes and a spot of concealer on spots/veins whatever. After that I have to reply on my sparkling wit and sheer force of personality…! On a more serious note, the BEST facial SPF is the Body Shop Skin Defence range – there’s a factor 30 with vitamin c, a factor 50 fluid and a spray. All great.
Can I ask what people are using to clean their make up brushes? Is there a good alternative to the specialist liquids? I can recommend the Bobbi Brown foundation stick and it lasts for ages. You have inspired me to tackle my make up bags today but OMG at the price of that STOW bag! x
I just use some baby shampoo
I read somewhere that handwashing detergent for silks/wools etc is good for makeup brushes, so this is what I use.x
Benefit Goof Proof eyebrow pencil is a total game changer for easy well kept looking eyebrows. Lots of places stock on line too
I am a huge fan of Trinny London products & both the BFF & BFF eye serum/concealer are wonderful. I have also had a make-up clear out & have been using up old pre-Trinny products which are just so much heavier & are all now being binned! I am much older than you & TL all cope with my menopausal skin really well. La Roche Posey do really good face-only sunscreen which is very reasonably priced.
Funny isn’t it, the older i get the less makeup i wear. On the other hand, at 41 my inherited cheekbones are now giving my face definition that my cute little apple face didn’t have at 21.
I love Nars Radiance Primer. I whack it on before the school run and it just makes you look a a bit more perky and together. It has an SPF of 35, but i have rosacea and so also use a separate spf when I know i’ll be in the sun.
Agree about the eyebrows. Some judicious eyebrow grooming makes a world of difference. I use a narrow angled eyeshadow brush and mid brown eyeshadow pot. Works a treat without the whole Crayola eyebrow thing.
Also major love for both Bobbi Brown and Beauty Pie eyeshadow sticks. They’re twist up and take 30 nano seconds to apply. Job done.
I take your point about the brushes. I just struggle with having one brush per product :-/
I’m another fan of the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick, and thought it worth noting that it may not be necessary to wait until we can visit counters again to purchase, as they have a fantastic guide to finding your shade match on their website, as well as live chat with make-up artists every day. Having discovered that I had finished my last stick (bought at a counter last summer, my face is certainly a different shade post-winter) right at the start of lockdown and feeling quite panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get another for some time, I tried both options and lo-and-behold the stick and concealer that arrived are the perfect match. And if it weren’t, they do free returns on foundation! I would buy via the same method again with great confidence.
Jess this is terrific news! Aren’t Bobbi Brown the best. I will investigate.
Hi Esther I hope they don’t discontinue the Trish McEvoy one, even though it’s prohibitively expensive! I think I’ve found a dupe. After much searching I discovered Revlon Photoready Eye Primer/Brightener. It’s the same consistency and colour (pinky flesh toned) of the Trish McEvoy one. It’s not cakey and I recommend it.
You are such a ray of sunshine, when I see your email arrive! I wondered about TL – wish they could send samples to try.
I started writing my make up down but it’s too embarrassing. I’d pay someone to take me across brands and show me what to get. It’s so haphazard and inefficient and expensive with mistakes (90% of us must be in that bucket). I did 70s last summer with electric blue eyeliner and orange lipstick. Yes you can laugh, my 15 yo daughter did too. Would Beauty Pie help maybe? I think not because you are still left to your own devices to choose!
My only forever is CHANEL waterproof eyeliner. Excellent.
I really don’t think anyone has ever described me as a ray of sunshine before
the thing with undereye concealer is that one does not serve all purposes. there is two main problem areas.
1. puffyness: cool it. get a cheap eye serum with a roller thingy which you keep in the fridge. roll away. for heavier hangover mornings stick two spoons in the freezer and take out after 10 minutes, run them under water, and press them to and fro under your eyes and a bot on top. then some light eye gel. everyone who comes back from the uk has to get me the
2. discolouration: my circles are bluiesh, so I counteract with peach tones. the clarins sos primer in peach is amazing, you only need a tiny amount
and then on top of that the slightly yellowish maybelline undereye eraser thingy. i find it’s best tapped in with fingers.
and then you have to powder the area ever so slightly, cos it gets greasy. at least mine does at some point and then everything gets swept away.
also: ysl touche éclat is overrated af and more of a highlighter than an undereye concealer.
PS. Kjaer Wais looks great and the concept and design is neat, but it is all such a mess. you will never refill the thingy, and my blush (which luckily I didn’t have to pay for) was too greasy und I threw it away after three years with not even a quarter used, and two quarters smeared all over the silver thingy and mirrot.
MarsBars you are suspiciously knowledgable. Well I do hope I manage to use my Kjaer Weis without chucking it out in despair because I DID PAY FOR IT AUGH
I write about beauty, so I get sent lots of stuff. I also test all kinds of prodedures hehe… I love it all but I also have hoarding tendencies, so I chuckle mildly when people start whinying about their messy, overstuffed bathrooms LOL.
But also, the stuff you pay for you treat differently. I would have never thrown mine away had I payed for it, but that’s exactly what creates a mess in the end: holding on to shit you don’t use or that doesn’t work just because it looks pretty. (pro-tip: make a summer/winter-box and store somewhere else. open it BEFORE the season starts and marvel in the riches, then chuck half of it.)
That’s a great idea. I do buy quite a lot of make up and then cull ruthlessly every 6 months or so and give it to my 2 teenage nieces who fall on it gleefully and put it to better use than I ever would (thanksYouTube)
Oh I am here for this content.
Right now, my skin (I have battled with acne for over 20 years) is the worst it has ever been (I blame the Plantastic micropeeling drops from Beauty Pie, as breakout got terrible with repeated use of this and then cleared up some when I stopped using it. TBH my skin has hated Beauty Pie skincare, although I think their makeup and brushes are fab), and so I have finally seen a dermatologist, and start medication tomorrow. I am so relieved to finally have someone say to me ‘this can be sorted out’, that it is worth the astronomical sum of money I have paid. I am hoping to see some improvement.
Anyway, all this is to say I have rarely been able to go of the house without a base since I was about 14. On good skin days I use Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser and, on medium days a little concealer. When skin is awful I use a full coverage foundation – I am currently using Charlotte Tilbury airbrush flawless foundation, which has amazing coverage but sits a little chalky on my skin. I’m not convinced it’s better than Bourjois healthy mix (is it scandalous to say that?) — and concealer. I love the Charlotte Tilbury colour corrector, which I use on dark circles under eyes. I also use a separate spf if not using the Laura Mercier. I am also a brush convert in terms of base.
Then I whack on blush (again with a brush). I love Benefit Dandelion on my (fair) complexion. A nice matt eyeshadow in a neutral colour or brown and then loads of any oily/slippery eyeliner applied as if drunk and smudged with a smudging brush (are they called that?). I don’t care what brand my eyeliner is so long as it smudges everywhere. Any old shitty mascara looks amazing (currently using Bourjois Volume Reveal in Radiant Black). I am not a brows person but I do think the Benefit Gimme Brow makes. a positive difference to my face.
I used to think make up was all about the eyes and skin and lips took care of themselves, but then I turned 35 and my lips turned the same colour as my face, so now I like a lipstick, chanel rouge alure in Aldente if I am in a red lip mood – otherwise any neutral, though CT’s Pillow Talk and Beauty Pie’s Baby Beige are current faves.
That is it. There have been points where I really went overboard and had loads of make-up and found it overwhelming – now I have basics above and not really any much more and it feels freeing and delightful.
Of course, since lockdown, I wear no make up and don’t shower until 5pm. But I am referring to this time as ‘The Great Pause’ and presuming it is ok for all activity to be bare minimum or nothing until government restart our lives again. I have even attended work zoom meetings in my pyjamas/dressing gown so not sure this attitude is doing anything good for my career, but at this stage, who cares?
Kate I am so pleased that a dermatologist is able to help you. Keep us posted! Really I think that if you have the type of skin that is very sensitive (as a euphemism for breakouts) pretty much any standard skincare range is going to give you breakouts. I really hope the new treatment works and you can finally enjoy going completely bare-faced… maybe with just a hint of that Dandelion blusher. It’s very freeing. I very much approve of your chosen eyeliner application style x
Yes. I am a sucker for the ‘this is great for breakout prone skin’ advertising – when it never is!
Just thought I’d pop back and give a little update. 5 days into my medication skin has changed completely. All active spots gone, no redness or swelling, just some scarring which has also receded. I hope it continues, but speaking to my sister in law who is on the same medication it looks as if the effects continue with use…wish I’d gone to a derma years ago.x
Incredible! Can you share what medication it is?! How absolutely heart lifting in these times that something has been so effective so quickly.
I was prescribed lymecycline (oral antibiotic) and a topical retinoid/benzoyl peroxide ointment. My sister in law has had the same experience and she isn’t using the topical treatment, so I think it’s the antibiotics (would be very quick for a topical treatment to work so fast). The antibiotics I’m on are particularly targeted at female hormonal acne, so if it is a hormone issue they seem to be effective (I know not all acne is hormonal though).x
Was told it could take 8 weeks to see any effects, but reading online it seems lots of people see change immediately. x
yes I definitely did
Thanks Kate. Yes back it the day I was on a oral antibiotic too, it lasted me for years it was fully awesome x
Aargh, Bourjois is being discontinued in the UK … I live by their concealer.
Nars concealers are the best (the matte one for redness or blemishes or whatever and the radiant one for under eye area) – I think the Dr Sam Bunting skincare is just brilliant (no affiliation whatsoever, it just works for me!) and she makes brilliant make up recommendations too (which won’t irritate/unlikely to cause breakouts etc) so I just do what she tells me! Best spf for face (I have been using it for YEARS) is the Heliocare Gel Oil Free spf50 (they do loads of different ones depending on skin type) – I put it on on top of the Dr Sam Moisturiser. I too love having minimal products that work – the older I get the less FAFF i want in every area of my life.
Louise thank you this is great advice, I’ve heard really good things about Sam Bunting
Wot, no Milk Highlighter? I bought that on your rec and LOVE it. It would be in my last three make-up items.
Yes I really like that – but there’s not terribly much call for highlighter at the moment.. I would class that a non-lockdown PERFORMANCE cosmetic…
If anyone has roseacea, super sensitive skin, or is into natural stuff, I would heartily recommend Finca – it seems to be run by an Irish woman with problem skin and I have to say I love their stuff, especially the tinted facial suncream.
Westman Atelier!! So expensive but some amazing products. I love Love love the Super Loaded Tinted highlight. Blush and highlight sticks also excellent.
I have tried a million lip balms and adore the Kosas one. Their lip oil gloss is also ace and I use the shade Jellyfish (clear) every day. Perfect for keeping lips from drying out under masks too (did I just say that).
I used to hate mascara because they all ended up half way down my face and found a lot of tubing ones to leave black specks everywhere. BUT I now use the Clinique one all the time. Looks super natural.
Benefit gimme brow brow gel! I was using the Charlotte tilbury one before but prefer this.
I can confirm the Bobbi brown foundation stick is good. Although I have been thinking my next foundation might be the hourglass stick… I also like the IT cosmetics cc cream..I hated it when I first bought it but the key is to use only a tiny bit and buff it in really well.
For under eye concealer been loving Tarte shape tape.
I got the Decree treat tincture on your recommendation- thank you!! A bit put off by the protect serum as heard you’re meant to keep it In the fridge….
I go on Zoom calls at least three times a day with work so have my makeup bag on my desk and only use the following:
IT Cosmetics CC cream on the bits that are red and need it, put on with a brush
Eyebrow colour (currently using ELF which is good but I do dye them myself also)
MaxFactor 2000 calorie mascara
Heaping Hazlenut chubby stick lipstick from Clinque
Maybe a bit of One Power Wonder from BeautyPie if I’m feeling fancy.
What I’ve learned if you absolutely do have to wear make up on a call otherwise you look dead and some earrings make you look like you’ve made a massive effort but any old sweatshirt is fine apart from that. I do pay a huge amount of attention to my skincare though, and follow Caroline Hiron’s religiously so my base is good which helps.
The StylePro brush cleaning machine is wonderful and really fun too. Although my daughters use beauty blenders and they are so gross and dirty I’m amazed they haven’t got serious acne. That’s teenagers for you I suppose…..
Laura R says
Funny thing is that I too was swaying about the Bobbi Brown foundation stick then I did one of those live chat sessions with one of their people including sending a make up free photo of myself. It was bloody brilliant, (not the make up free photo I hasten to add) but the advice. I told her I was wearing Ivory foundation from Clinique and a few other questions later and she recommended warm sand shade of foundation stick. I have ordered it because I got a good discount code from her online and they offer money back refunds regardless of whether the product has been used. I had a horrible feeling of desperately needing to spend some money on something nice. Pathetic I know but I didn’t buy the brush as I already have a great one from somewhere and I am locked down with a slightly unhinged five-year-old x
My whole LIFE is punctuated with desperately needing to spend some money on something nice. I am SO impressed that they will take it back whether or not it has been used. It definitely means that most people don’t send it back
TBH I’ve stopped wearing make up since lockdown began. My skin is really clear and smooth, apart from a breakout on my chin at the start of each period due to standard hormone arsiness. Step away from the eyeliner, Esther. You know you want to 😉
It’s true I’m wearing very little eyeliner (or any other make up) at the moment, mostly because of my hayfever making my eyes so itchy
Lady Lu says
Thanks Esther for making me think about this. I certainly agree on using less make up – although I flat-out refuse to do any video calls at the moment and it’s heaven not having to put on the slap. Concealer- I live by Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer which is great on bare skin though I find it doesn’t play well with foundation or tinted moisturiser. For that you can’t beat Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer. For make up free days if needed I slap on Hollywood Flawless Filter by Charlotte Tillbury. I know, I know. I hate myself for liking it as I hate the entire Tillbury shebang, but it’s so good and makes me look less vampiric I even take it on my hols. I have horrible pigmentation (which i previously had lasered with great results) so I absolutely have to wear sunscreen. Believe me I’ve tried them ALL. I can’t live without Radical Skincare UV Skin Perfecting Screen SPF 30 which is non- chemical and works to make me look fabulously alive on its own and even works as a base under foundation without making it bobble or slide off by 3pm. Oh and that make up bag- I think you’ll like https://theazurinastore.com/products/oslo-perspex-make-bag-perspex-in-mustard-croc – they also monogram if you fancy and seem to have offers for money off on a lot. Worth a try for the price difference! X