I haven’t written much about beauty products lately (or about anything for that matter—spilling a full glass of wine on my computer has really put a cramp in my blogging style). But upon the request of several of my makeup-challenged friends, I wanted to put together a list of beauty basics. These are my top twelve essentials…
Foundation Primer: A few years ago, I wouldn’t have given primers a second thought. But after reading Blogdorf Goodman’s 40 Primers in 40 Days, I became obsessed. I still don’t use primer every single day, though whenever I do, I ask myself, “Beth, why don’t you use this every single day? It makes your skin so pretty! You are so pretty!” (Apparently using primer is an act of self-love.) Primer is quick and easy to apply, you can get a long run out of a very small bottle, and they make your complexion unbelievably smooth so that makeup just glides onto your skin. My personal favorite is Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, an ultimate cult item. (Be sure to get it in the travel tube, not the pump bottle. It’s far easier to squeeze the last few drops out of the tube than it is to scrape the final globs out of the bottle.) However, I recently purchased the Pre-Foundation Pore Perfecting Primer from Napolean Perdis’ NP Set collection at Target. The primer is pretty comparable to Photo Finish (though not quite as silky), and it also comes in tube form. I’ve also heard great things about Face Time Velvet Veil, but have never tried it myself. But it has gained such a loyal following that it’s certainly the next on my list to try.
MAC Foundation: I never wore foundation in high school or college. It always seemed like makeup for girls who were willing to spend an hour and a half getting ready every morning. Not really my style. This all changed when I discovered MAC Studio Tech. This creamy foundation is held in a compact and can be applied with a foundation brush. (They include an application sponge in the compact, but I find that the MAC 190 Foundation Brush works best). Brush on a few strokes of this foundation over a light layer of primer and prepare to be amazed at the velvety finish. Eventually I moved on to MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, their powder foundation. The quick and easy application can’t be beat. But I still am loyal to the Studio Tech whenever I’m getting extra dolled up. My skin’s normal to oily, so keep that in mind with these recommendations. But I can say that MAC Face and Body Liquid Foundation gets raves from my friend who has dry sensitive skin. MAC knows their foundations, and they have one of the best ranges of colors available. An invaluable asset if you’re so fair that your friends call you “Daywalker.”
Liquid Concealer: I’ve had a serious girlcrush on makeup artist Jemma Kidd for sometime now. And since I only really play around with her fantastic Jemma Kidd Makeup School collection when I’m spending a depressing day of coveting in Neiman Marcus, I was psyched to see her release a lower-priced and more accessible line at Target. The JK Jemma Kidd collection is filled with bright playful colors, but the real gem is the Front Cover Touch-Up Concealer. My friend Kate Duffy (she of the MAC Liquid Foundation love) got me hooked on this creamy confection, which is great for undereye application. The click-up applicator leaves something to be desired, but the formula is completely worth any mild inconvenience.
Cream Concealer: I use liquid concealer whenever I’m trying to even out skin tone, but whenever I’m having an “Out, damn’d spot!” kind of day, I turn to my secret weapon: MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer. This high-grade camouflage in a tub has gotten me through zits, mosquito bites, and the mystery spots I acquired after using a free sample of Oil of Olay. (Damn you, free samples!) It’s best applied with a brush (I prefer the MAC 194 Concealer Brush), but if you’re not overly concerned with sanitation, your fingertip will work in a jiff.
Pressed Powder: I realize that, at this point, my MAC recommendations have gotten a little out of control. But seriously. Best. Powder. Ever. MAC Blot Pressed Powder is translucent and undetectable, so it’s a great way to set your makeup and combat shine.
Pencil Eyeliner: A long-lasting pencil eyeliner is one of my desert island items. And though I own dozens of pencils from Lancome, Urban Decay, Estee Lauder and Nars, I always return to Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner. in Onyx or Sapphire. Easy application, long-lasting wear, and ultimate portability. There is one of these eyeliners in almost all of my purses.
Liquid Eyeliner: I could sing the praises of Almay Liquid Liner for days. Whenever I go home to Nebraska, my former makeup artist neighbor asks me what kind of eyeliner I use. I finally just gave her a bottle for Christmas. The formula glides on easily, the applicator is a cinch to use, and the effect is always a little bit Audrey Hepburn at Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a little bit Diane Lane in the Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.
Mascara: Obviously, mascara’s a must. Though I’m fairly loyal to L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara and Lancome Fatale, I’m dreading saying good-bye to Max Factor Volume Couture when the brand becomes unavailable in the United States. As of 2010, Max Factor will only be sold overseas, so as of now, I’m stockpiling Volume Couture and 2000 Calorie Mascara in Rich Black. It’s all very Elaine Benes and “The Sponge.” According to the interwebs, unopened mascara is good for two to three years. I’m probably going to push my luck and save some extra tubes even longer than that. Here’s to hopefully not giving myself an eye infection in 2014!
Face color: NARS Blush in Orgasm is probably the most favorably reviewed blush of all time, but it’s not exactly inexpensive. I find that cheap blush works well as long as you apply the color gradually, and at $1 a pop, it doesn’t get much cheaper than E.L.F. Natural Radiance Blusher. The powder comes in a variety of workable colors, but my pale self favors Innocence, a light pink that reminds me of Benefit Dandelion.
Moisturizing Lip Gloss: Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother is one of my favorite multi-taskers. Super moisturizing with SPF 20 to boot, this little tube combines some serious hydration and protection with its high shine. Each of the shades have a hint of color. I like Gleam, a sheer coral that reminds me of a popsicle stain. Unfortunately, the formula is pretty tasty, so I find myself licking my lips all day and constantly re-applying. Another good reason to buy inexpensive drugstore lip gloss.