Last Updated: February 2018
This post contains all of the details on my very favorite beauty products—the ones I use every single day. Many of the products listed below have been favorites for years, and others are recent discoveries that have only been in my makeup bag for a few months. I always update this post whenever a new product makes its way into my core collection of trusted favorites, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back anytime you’re in need of a new recommendation! I’ve tried a ton of products over the years, so I’m always excited to share my best beauty finds and the products I truly swear by.
For future reference, you can always find this post by clicking LIFESTYLE>>BEAUTY via the top navigation bar here on memorandum.com!
For a little context, I’m not a person who is willing to spend a ton of time on my makeup. Mostly because ten times out of ten, I will decide at 6:30 am that I love my bed more than I love my face. There’s an arguable misalignment of priorities there, but it is what it is. If the whole thing takes more than 15 minutes, I’m outta here. For special occasions where I’m really doing the whole shebang, I’m willing to spend an extra five to ten minutes. But really, that’s all you got.
Today’s post is focused on my makeup routine, and I’m going to do a separate post on my skincare regimen that details all of the more serious moisturizers, serums and magic potions I use to keep my skin healthy, so stay tuned for more details on that. However, there are a few skincare products that are integrated into my makeup routine, so that’s where we’ll start today—with the underlying products that really get this party started…
SKIN PREP AND PRIMING
1. Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum (not pictured)
After cleansing my face in the morning (FYI, I’ve been using this First Aid Beauty face cleanser lately and l-o-v-e it), I apply a thin coat of this serum all over my face and neck. It’s anti-aging, super lightweight and has SPF 30 in it to ward off all the bad guys.
I’ve tried a ton of other daily moisturizers and I always come back to this cult favorite. It’s super lightweight, dries very quickly, and really does a great job of keeping my skin hydrated throughout the day.
Application: My hands!
My skin isn’t particularly sensitive, but I do have a tendency to get oily. Because of this, I’ve tried SO many different primers—especially those that purport to help with oil control. Nevertheless, I always come back to this Laura Mercier primer because it really keeps foundation in place and also gives you a little bit of that “glowing from within” radiance.
Type: Mattifying Primer – For Oily Skin
Application: My hands!
I still love the Laura Mercier primer, but for periods of time when it seems my skin is particularly oily (especially in the summer or when I have a special event where I’m going to be photographed), this is a more serious oil combatant. It has worked wonders for me in keeping shine at bay and makeup in place. If you have combination skin, I recommend using your regular primer all over your face, and just dabbing this one in the areas that produce excess oil (typically the t-zone, chin, and around the nose). I’ve tried just about every single other oil-control primer on the planet, and nothing can hold a candle to this one. Just remember—a little goes a long way.
MY GO-TO FACE MAKEUP
My color: Y335 – Dark Sand
Application: Artis Elite Oval 8 Brush
Let me try to understate it: this is unequivocally the best ever foundation on the planet ever in history EVER. Given my tendency to oil up after a few hours, many foundations can start to look pretty funky halfway through the day. This foundation is super lightweight, looks truly invisible (yet still hides everything you need it to hide), has the most natural finish, and literally doesn’t budge all day. I’ve been using it for at least three years now and might name my first child after it, the love is that deep. If there’s one thing I consistently get asked about/complimented on, it’s my foundation. Love love love.
Over the years, I’ve tried a million (almost literally) different makeup brushes and always end up feeling disappointed because (1) they’re often not easy to use, (2) they start shedding bristles right away despite fastidious care, and/or (3) they simply don’t apply makeup evenly. Enter Artis brushes. Perhaps out of sheer desperation, I took the plunge on these crazy looking part toothbrush, part Star Trek brushes a couple years ago and HOLY GAME CHANGER, I could. not. be. happier. They truly apply foundation like no other brush. In addition to a more natural, ergonomic design, each brush contains three to ten times as many fibers as other makeup brushes, which results in makeup application that’s super even and product that isn’t absorbed into the brush (so you use less product, saving even more money). I’ve used the same Oval 8 brush for two years now to apply my foundation every day and I’ve never had even a single bristle shed. The bristles are synthetic and legitimately softer than a kitten, so even the most sensitive skin types will love these babies. I can’t say enough good things.
I’ve owned several different Artis brushes over the years and my absolute mainstay must-have is the Oval 8 brush for applying foundation. If there’s one brush to splurge on, it’s this one. You’ll see throughout this post that aside from this brush, I’m all about less expensive Sephora brand brushes for most other things. However, this is the one brush that is 100% worth the extra dough. Truly makes a world of difference.
ALSO! It’s worth mentioning that there are a TON of cheap knock-offs out there. In an effort to do my due diligence for the blog (not to mention my personal desire to find a cheaper alternative!) I ordered 5 different kinds of these Artis look-a-likes. None of them came even CLOSE. Just because it looks the same doesn’t mean the quality and composition of the bristles is on par. Don’t waste your time or money!
My color: Light Buff
Application: BeautyBlender Sponge Applicator
Waterproof undereye concealer and eye makeup is a top priority for me because I HAVE SO MANY EMOTIONS ALL OF THE TIME. Kidding. I actually just have super light-colored eyes which makes me a bit more sensitive to light, so on a random bright day without sunglasses, odds are my eyes will be watering. It’s awesome. This concealer stays perfect all day, absolutely never creases, and doesn’t move a muscle if your eyes water. Hands down the best concealer out there.
My color: Cannelle
Application: BeautyBlender Sponge Applicator
I’ve come to the realization that the type of concealer that works best under my eyes is not the same as the concealer that works best on my cheek or jawline. The skin under the eyes is not only completely different in texture and composition, but it’s also a different color. Hence, the listing of two different concealers here. This NARS concealer is what I use anytime I need to cover up anything outside of the eye region, and there’s a reason you see just about every beauty guru under the sun using it. It goes on really easily (especially because the applicator makes it incredibly easy to apply to small, targeted areas) and stays put all day and night.
My color: I’m using the black “pro” applicator, but they’re all the same, they just come in different colors.
The BeautyBlender is what I use to blend concealer in the triangle under my eye, but I also sometimes use it to blend other areas as-need (foundation, concealer, contouring—you name it). It’s also really great for applying foundation products (whether that’s a BB cream, CC cream, tinted moisturizer, foundation, etc.) when you just want a thin coat—perhaps for daytime when you’re going for a more natural look. My favorite foundation above (the Makeup Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation) is super buildable (i.e. it can be layered to reach the desired coverage you’re looking for while still looking really natural) so I apply it with the BeautyBlender instead of my foundation brush when I want a lighter look. Bottom line: it’s safe to say that the hype is legit on this one. The BeautyBlender is your all-around application MVP.
My color: Translucent
Application: Sephora Collection PRO Precision Powder Brush #59
After applying my foundation and concealer, I dust this setting powder over my entire face, making special efforts to thoroughly cover the areas under the eye where I applied concealer. If you don’t use a setting powder, I’m telling you this Laura Mercier finishing powder is a complete GAME. CHANGER. when it comes to keeping everything in place for the whole day, keeping oil under control, and preventing your under-eye concealer from creasing. Now that I know what a difference setting powder makes, I honestly look back on years of wearing foundation or concealer without a setting powder and cringe. This is a MUST-HAVE!
FAVORITE PRODUCTS FOR CONTOUR, HIGHLIGHT AND BLUSH
My color: Intense 1
In my humble opinion, there is no contouring palette that holds a candle to this Tom Ford palette. I recently had a reader ask whether it’s worth the price tag, and I can say unequivocally YES. To give you an idea, I have used the same palette almost every single day for the past two years and I still have TONS left. (I know, I know there are rules about throwing away makeup after one year, but… I swear I clean my brushes like crazy, etc. etc.) This contouring duet comes in two shades depending on your skin tone and blends so beautifully and invisibly. On the highlighter side, I’ve had a hard time finding a highlighter that isn’t either (1) a weird tan, peach, and/or white shade or (2) too sparkly/shimmery. I don’t want to look like I’m going to a middle school dance, I just want a little extra cheekbone definition, mmk? The picture above may be misleading, but both shades are creams and the light shade is completely translucent with just the perfect subtle shimmer. More details in the below Laura Mercier Highlighter section about how and when I prefer to use highlighter. As for the darker contour side, so many similar products look great in photos, but in person look crazy—almost as if your face is dirty. This one blends perfectly while staying completely natural to the naked eye.
My color: Highlight 01 – Golden Nude
Application: Sephora Collection PRO Contour Brush #79
On a regular day, I will often skip the highlight side of the above Tom Ford highlight palette (since it has a stronger effect) and will just dust a little of this highlighter on the tops of my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose and on my brow bones right beneath my eyebrows. If I have a special night-time occasion, I will typically use the highlight side of the Tom Ford Contouring Duet above, and then set that cream product with a light dusting of this Laura Mercier highlighter over the top. Like the Tom Ford highlighter, this product is the perfect color (it also comes in a few other shades depending on your skin tone), is not sparkly, and blends beautifully. I also feel that I have much more control with this powder product to go really light on days when I only want the most subtle highlight. For occasions when you want more dramatic definition, the product is very buildable.
13. Nars Blush
My color: Goulue
Application: Sephora Collection Classic Must Have Angled Blush Brush #50 (I own two of these, one for contour as mentioned above and one used for blush. I don’t recommend trying to use the same brush for both because one is used daily for a cream product and the other is used daily for a powder product.)
I’ve used this Clinique blush (in color Heather Pop) since high school and absolutely love it, but more recently fell in love with the Nars blush in Goulue. Some people complain that powder blushes fade quickly—which is not the case with either of these. I apply blush once in the morning and never touch it again. I also find powder blushes much easier to blend and apply than cream-based alternatives, especially when applying on top of other cream products. I also love both of these blush lines because (in my opinion) they have the best shade selections. For my coloring, a blush with a slight blue undertone in more of a plum hue works best, and from my experience, those are very tough to find.
My color: Laguna
I’ve also been using this stuff since high school and there’s no question that NARS wins the bronzer game. I use this on my face and even dust some on my chest and shoulders in the summer. It has a very subtle shimmer, but looks totally natural and never orange which is the danger with most bronzers. Also, their Laguna shade somehow magically works on absolutely every skin tone.
My color: 1.5 Radiant Silk
This magic little pen is not a concealer, yet not a highlighter either. Soooo pointless, right? Wrong. I absolutely love it for brightening up areas that you don’t necessarily need to coat with concealer, but that you don’t want to brush with a true highlighter either. Whether it’s my t-zone, or the corners of my mouth, nose, or eyes, it’s the perfect in-betweener. Honestly, when covering a blemish, I actually use this stuff more than I use my concealer. Just kidding! I totally don’t ever get blemishes!! *flips hair* But for real, it’s super easy to use and covers anything without looking too heavy or shimmery. I actually keep one of these in my purse at all times because it’s such a great multi-tasker on the go.
FAVORITE EYE MAKEUP
My color: Matte Dark Brown M60
The Makeup Forever Eye Liner is a more traditional cream pencil liner that’s super long-lasting and can either draw a clean line or be smudged to perfection. It’s waterproof and has absolutely fantastic staying power for lining the inner rims of your eye.
My color: Dark Brown
This Stila liquid eyeliner pen doesn’t coat the inner rims well, but is incredibly long-lasting, waterproof, and is perfect for creating a sleek, super precise line. The calligraphy pen tip makes creating the perfect cat-eye a cinch.
My color: Nude
When you’re going for a more natural look and want to brighten up your eyes, just swipe this nude liner across the inner rim of your lower lid and I promise you will magically turn into Candice Swanepoel mid Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. This stuff also really stays put, so the eye brightening effects will stay strong all day. I’m obsessed.
My colors: I honestly think I own every single shade!
Application: I use the SEPHORA COLLECTION PRO Smudge Brush #11 to smudge and blend!
These Laura Mercier eyeshadow sticks are my favorite for creating that smudged eyeshadow look above or below your lashes. The stick makes it super easy to swipe along your lash lines, and since they’re a cream product, they don’t fade or fall like regular dry eyeshadow can, BUT they also dry like normal eyeshadow so you don’t feel sticky all night. I’m not kidding when I say I think I now own every single color, and love that they come in both matte and shimmery shades so you have tons of options. To get the best smudge effect, I recommend using a smudge brush like this one to blend the product above and below the eye after applying with the stick.
My color: Taupe (formerly called “Ash Blonde”)
I love this eyebrow pencil because Anastasia is one of the few brands that makes an eyebrow pencil light enough for natural blondes (or dirty ash blonde in my case). It’s completely smear-proof and the super fine tip allows you to mimic actual hair when you’re filling in gaps, yielding super natural results. Even my darker-haired friends are obsessed with this eyebrow pencil (in a darker color, obviously).
My color: Brown
Previously, I had the Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in Catwalk Brown, which I’ve used for years and still recommend. However, for me, the Dior has a tendency to smudge after a while, which has always kept me on the lookout for something better. This Lancôme Mascara is something I’ve tried in the past, and wasn’t crazy about, but I always hear people reference it as the gold standard mascara so I gave it another try. This time around, I really fell in love and realized what my hang up was: It seems that when the mascara is brand new, they almost put too much product in the tube. So for the first couple weeks, it goes on a little too thick. However, if you wait it out or just rub a little off the application brush at the start, it’s absolutely amazing. It lengthens, curls, thickens, errythang. Highly recommend.
Application: Sephora Collection Eyes Uncomplicated Brush Set
In the past, I’ve shared a few Urban Decay Naked palettes along with the Stila “Mind” palette, both of which I really like. However, for the past nine months, I’ve used, almost exclusively, this Smashbox Matte Exposure Palette and don’t plan on using anything else anytime soon. The shades are universally flattering, apply easily, stay perfect forever and never crease. Especially for everyday use, I prefer a matte shadow to something with a lot of shimmer, so this is the palette for me. One of my most frequently-asked question on instagram and instastories is what shade I’m using in the crease of my eye, and nine times out of ten it is the “Grounded” shade from this palette. For an everyday look, I literally just dust this shade into the crease of my eye and that’s it for eyeshadow!
FAVORITE LIP PRODUCTS
This is my favorite all-purpose straight-up lip balm which works wonders to revitalize my lips if they’re ever looking a little haggard. I also really love the tinted versions of this stuff (Plum is my favorite color), but the translucent “advanced therapy” version is what I consistently use every night after brushing my teeth. About a year ago, I was telling a makeup artist that my lips seemed to be perpetually dry, and she said that it was most likely caused by toothpaste, which really wreaks havoc on your lips if you don’t thoroughly rinse your lips and apply a lip balm after brushing your teeth every night. I started rinsing and using this balm religiously that very night and voila! No more dryness. I also keep an extra one in my purse and use it periodically throughout the day if I’m not wearing any lip color.
My color: 3C Medium Natural Beige
Similar to many of my favorite lip products, I have this guy in several colors, and switch them up depending on what lip color I’m putting over it. This natural hue, however, is definitely the most heavily used of the group because it’s the natural color of my lips and therefore blends under just about every lip color that I wear. This liner is waterproof, long-lasting, non-feathering, and non-fading, and it helps make your lips look fuller while keeping your lipstick locked in place.
My favorite colors: Plum Perfect, Almond Nude, and Warm Caramel
The Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick is a favorite drugstore find that does exactly what its name suggests—moisturizes your lips and makes them silky smooth. My very favorite shade is called Plum Perfect—I swear, there’s one in just about every purse I own. I love several of their shades and have amassed a fairly obscene collection of this stuff, but I haven’t found any lip color ANYWHERE that has a more perfect plum pink than their Plum Perfect.
I have a ton of favorite lipsticks that run the gamut of cream, matte, long-wearing, lip-plumping, you name it. Below are a list of my favorites!
- Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour – Favorite colors: Lover, Seduction and Mon Cheri
- Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro – Favorite colors: 400 and 406
- NARS Lipstick – Favorite colors: Funny Face and Fire Down Below
- Buxom Full-On Lip Stick – Favorite colors: Brooklyn and San Francisco (how apropros!)
- NARS Satin Lip Pencil – Favorite colors: Rikugien, Bansar and Hyde Park
- NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment – Favorite colors: Under My Thumb and Starwoman
- NARS Velvet Lip Pencil – Favorite color: Consuming Red and Endangered Red
- Makeup Forever Artist Rouge Lipstick– Favorite colors: C107, C406, and M400
OK, that’s a wrap! My completely updated front-to-back beauty routine and every last makeup product that I swear by. Have I missed anything? Do you have any favorites that I should try?? Please let me know in the comments!