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Beauty Advice From My Friend That Tries And Tests Everything So We Don’t Have To

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photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: portland reveal: how the bathroom I was most nervous about turned out to be my favorite

We all wish we had this friend – the one that has tried every single beauty product. I’ve only met Whitney once, but my friend Suzanne has talked about her for years, mostly saying, “Whitney says we should be using _______” or “Whitney found this new product that is way cheaper and better for your _______”. I would ask Suzanne to ask Whitney questions for me all the time (until I got her number and cut out the middle man) not because she is a dermatologist or a makeup artist but because she literally TRIES EVERY NEW PRODUCT. She’s my trusted beauty expert hobbyist who now runs an instagram called, The List (follow her!), who has sacrificed her own money in the name of beauty research, regardless of price. And when you are around her you believe every word, her opinion is so strong. She is SO adamant, that you find yourself buying the item mid-conversation. I’m running out of all my beauty supplies as a lot of us are, so before I buy what I always buy, I found myself wanting to ask this friend who I barely know what I should be using because I trust her and right now I don’t want to waste any money nor do any returns. So I figured we could all use a bit of Whitney in our life. Take it away…

Whitney here, and I’ll start by saying I am not an expert. Just a product obsessed beauty lover. I am continuously testing, updating, and replacing the products in my line-up. Through all my trials and errors I’ve found some solid products that I know I can always rely on, as well as a few tips and tricks that will help them work and look better.

FIRST UP, SKINCARE . . . .

Let’s start with skin care first, because healthy skin is the first step to a better overall makeup application. I have a pale complexion and sensitive skin that can lean on the oily, break-out prone side if I am not properly taking care of it.

When trying a new skin care product there can be a purge phase where you might break out and there can also be an irritation phase, especially when initially introducing acids or retinoids/retinol. It is normal for some products to make things worse before they get better. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on it. Try lessening the frequency of the product while continuing a consistent routine to build up a tolerance.

My nighttime cleansing routine is the most impactful routine I do for my skin. It’s a simple three-step process, that involves breaking down and removing make-up followed by a two-step cleanse. I find that washing my face at night is super important, as it gives my skin a break from pollution, dirt, and makeup.

STEP ONE – REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP

Product of Choice: Avocado Oil & Living Libations Organic Hemp Face Cloths ($8+)

Organic avocado oil is my go-to makeup remover. It’s nourishing to the skin and super effective at removing stubborn foundation and eye makeup. I rub a little less than a quarter-sized amount into my palm and massage into my face (including, carefully, my eye area). Then I use a warm, damp face cloth to wipe the oil and makeup away. These organic hemp face cloths are thick, fleece-like, and glide over even the most sensitive skin.

STEP TWO – OIL CLEANSE

Product of Choice: Living Libations Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn Oil Cleanser ($17+)

This is a thoughtfully crafted oil cleanser that will rebalance and reset your skin. This is also an effective makeup up remover but a somewhat pricier product. If you have the budget you could absolutely use this to remove your makeup with a double oil cleanse and forgo the avocado oil altogether but I prefer to make this product last longer. I use the same face cloth method to remove my oil cleanser as I do to remove my avocado oil. Make sure to use a fresh side of your face cloth with each oil removal. 

STEP THREE – GEL CLEANSER

Product Of Choice: Reflekt 1 – Daily Exfoliating Face Wash ($18+)

I usually feel traditional cleansers dry me out and cause skin imbalance, but this has done the complete opposite. It is moisturizing and exfoliating while protecting the balance and pH of my skin. Because this cleanser has (biodegradable) exfoliation beads, you are in control of how intense the exfoliation will be. The less water you use the more intense the exfoliation will be. I tend to start on the drier side and once I’ve achieved the exfoliation I am looking for I then add more water to my fingers and it turns into a more traditional cleanser feel. 

Hot Tip

Remember to rinse your skin thoroughly. I literally put my head under the faucet and let the water run over both sides of my face. The ring around their face of leftover cleanser that gets "wiped away" with a towel will get you into some clogged pore trouble!

And the most important (daytime) step:

Product Of Choice: Supergoop Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40 ($38)

SPF is an absolute must, even if I am having a no-makeup day at home. I will still apply SPF because the UV rays are coming through the windows even when you are inside. If you use peels/acids or retinoids/retinols your skin is now more vulnerable to sun damage/aging. Once you start regularly using these types of treatments for anti-aging you could be doing more harm than good if you are not religiously using SPF. For example, I always tell my friends who want to start a retinoid/retinol that if you are not committed to protecting your skin with SPF then I would not start it at all. 

I love this particular sunscreen because it is a duel product for me. I use it as my makeup primer to blur my pores and as my daily protection from the sun. I think it is also amazing on its own because it gives you a subtle blurring and evening of skin tone when you want protection for a natural no-makeup day.   

NOW FOR THE FUN PART, MAKEUP . . .

I have two big notes I want to start with before we dive into the makeup products I put on my own face almost every day. First, if you’re using sponges or brushes you’ve had for a long time, consider replacing them. Even if you clean them regularly. It can be hard to prioritize your tools, but dirty or worn tools can cloud your judgment as to whether you like a product or not. If your tools are not performing to the best of their ability then it will result in less than stellar makeup application.

Secondly, test new makeup products on their own to see how they perform before you use them in conjunction with your other products. For example, if you are trying a new foundation try it without primer to see its true nature first! Ok, let’s dive into some products . . . .

CHEEKS

Powder Product of Choice: Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder ($46)

Setting powder for me is something I use strategically and in places that accumulate oil and unwanted shine. Be intentional in your placement. I do not put powder all over my face. I focus on my t-zone and under my eyes to ensure my concealer is set properly. This powder melts into the skin flawlessly and doesn’t have talc in the ingredients.

Hot Tip

When applying powder I want you to gently press it into the skin as opposed to brushing it all over. When you press your powder into the skin it will give you better coverage as well as minimize the disruption to your foundation/concealer. I like to press my powder in with the Morphe M536 brush, or I use my sponge for even more coverage.

Powder Blush of Choice: Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso or Dolce Pink ($8)

It’s a drugstore product, but when it’s good, it’s good!

Cream Blush of Choice: Stila Convertible Color Cream Blush in Petunia ($25)

If you prefer a cream blush, this is my go-to.

LIPS

Lip Pencils of Choice: NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner in Sandstrom ($4) & KKW Beauty Lip Liner in Nude ($12)

I love a nude lip. With that said, nude is relative to skin tone and I am on the paler side – be cautious when buying my version of nudes because it could wash you out the deeper your skin tone is. I gravitate to brown lip liners/contour colors and a soft matte pinks for my lipstick.

Lipsticks of Choice: Pat McGrath Matte Trance Lipstick in Peep Show ($38) & Kjear Weis Lipstick in Honor ($56).

These are my favorite lipsticks to pair with the above lipliners. I use all of these interchangeably, combine them, and switch them around.

Lip Gloss of Choice: NYX Butter Gloss in Fortune Cookie ($5)

If you’re into a glossy lip, I love to top any of the above combinations with a swipe of this.

Hot Tip

Combining a contour shade lip liner with a nude lipstick will give your lips the illusion of being larger.

EYES

I am a complicated mascara person. I prefer one mascara for my top lashes and one for my bottom lashes. This has been the case for years and years. I  want my top lashes to be a bit fluffier and I want my bottom lashes to have a more twiggy feel. (editors note: I, Emily, can’t stop laughing every time I read this – the level of obsession, detail, and enthusiasm is amazing and I get it – we all have our things – Whitney, please continue).

Right now my daily top lash mascara is the Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara by Estee Lauder ($28). This mascara has a large bristle wand and a formula that gives your lashes volume, length, and thickness. The formula has a blend of three high volume fibers that are combined with a conditioning vitamin complex base that creates a lash extension look. This is a wetter formula and when you combine that with a big brush it can be a bit messy if you are not careful, so make sure to take your time applying so you don’t have a messy application. This mascara is buildable, does not flake, and gives me the dramatic lash that I love! 

My favorite bottom lash mascara is Loreal Telescopic Mascara ($11) (the gold tube version is my favorite). This mascara provides length, drama, and it separates lashes really well! I am a multi-coat mascara applier – you can go as natural or as dramatic as you like! The brush is on the thinner side with what I am assuming are short silicone bristles. There is one downside to this mascara – over time it can be hard to get the wand back in the tube because there is some flexibility where the wand and brush meet. This is usually my signal to buy a new one – for me it’s worth it but I know that might be frustrating for some. 

To be honest, most of the brow pencils and powders I have used over the years are all very similar to each other. The only brow “product” that has truly stood out to me is Soap Brows – this is more for hold/thickening than for filling in – you will still need an additional product to do that step ). Soap Brows used to be my go-to daily brow but it is a more complicated process that I now reserve for a more glam special occasion brow look when I’m going for a bigger bushier brow.

I feel confident in Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Pencil ($23) and their Brow Powder Duo ($23). They perform well consistently and are not over the top expensive. 

I think a great inexpensive dupe for Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow wiz pencil is the NYX Micro Brow Pencil ($10). 

APPLICATION TOOLS

Real Techniques and Morphe brushes are my two go-to brands for brushes. They are both inexpensive and deliver amazing application! I also love the Real Techniques sponge. It’s made well and performs as well as the more expensive version. I believe makeup tools should be replaced far more often than they typically are and these price points allow you to do that more easily without sacrificing quality.

Hot Tip

Clean your brushes with two parts mild soap (I use Seventh Generation dish soap ) and one olive oil. Whisk the soap and oil together and it will emulsify. The olive oil will break down your makeup like an oil cleanser would, while conditioning the bristles. The soap will help you thoroughly wash away any residue. Dampen your brush with warm water and then lightly dip it into the solution and work it in with your fingers, or makeup brush cleaning pad if you have one. Depending on the condition of your brushes you might have to repeat this process. Make sure to run your brushes under warm water until the water runs clear. You want to give your brushes a good shake and dry them laying flat on your counter, using a clean towel. I generally leave the bristles hanging off the counter to ensure water does not accumulate during the drying process. You never want to dry your brushes upright because the water will run down the bristle to the base of the bristles and accumulate causing damage and possibly mold.

OUR FINAL BURNING QUESTIONS:

1. Do you use any toners or serums in your skincare routine? if so what are they?

The nightly toner I use is iS Clinical Active Serum ($138). This is a very expensive toner and for many people, it may seem really out of touch and crazy to spend that much on a very small dropper bottle that is $138 which I get. But sadly there is not a hack for this little gem.

I am prone to breakouts and this serum has helped keep my skin in check and has evened out my skin tone. It has a water-like consistency and I use more drops in the palm of my hand than they have recommended and gently press it all over my face. This is a toner that I am desperately trying to avoid any waste so I skip the gauze step entirely. I tried to drop it directly on my face for an even more efficient application but it absorbs too quickly in my opinion for it to have a thorough application. You will feel an immediate tingly sensation – I look forward to this nightly. This toner has never irritated my skin but I do feel like it is a product that needs to be eased into. 

Biossance Squaline + Tea Tree balancing oil ($49) is an oil I keep in the rotation that I will apply day or night depending on my need for it. This is a clean beauty product that is EWG certified. This oil has never clogged my pores, feels hydrating, and lightweight. I think oils can have a tendency to sit on top of the skin without ever absorbing fully and I really like that this one seems to penetrate easily. I  use this when I feel like I have a break out coming for its antibacterial properties that help to keep acne from thriving. 

2. Do you have a go-to foundation that has SPF?

Foundation is such a complex situation. I started writing it in my initial email to you guys and then it was like  – this option for this skin type and categorized by coverage – it kind of got out of control – so I deleted it all.

I do think if you are specifically looking for a foundation that has SPF – It Cosmetics cc+ cream ($39) is an awesome option. It is a lightweight feeling foundation that provides medium to full buildable coverage. It comes in three different versions depending on what kind of look you are trying to achieve. Original, oil-free matte, and illumination (my personal favorite). I apply this foundation with my Real Techniques Sponge. Start with one pump and build your way up if needed. The better primed your skin is the further a pump of foundation will go and the more natural-looking it will be. If you are overly dry it will absorb quickly and you will need more product and it can end up looking cakey. Skin prep is key! 

When applying foundation, I like to focus on the center of my face/cheek area to begin with because that is where I need the most coverage and then I work outward towards my hairline using less and less product. I try to use the residual foundation left on my sponge in the places that I do not need as much coverage. If you have a blemish try to spot conceal with the foundation instead of adding more product all over. This will help you achieve the coverage you need and have a more natural finish. 

3. Do you use any products that make your skin look especially glowy?

I  think the more hydrated the skin is prior to foundation application the more naturally glowy your makeup will be. If I want a more matte finish I will use my moisturizer sparingly before my foundation application. If I want a dewier finish I will prep with a little heavier handed moisturizer application. Do use caution when applying more moisturizer before makeup application as it can affect the longevity of your foundation and create unwanted movement. There is a sweet spot you will have to find for your moisturizer ratio and foundation ratio so it will not completely break down throughout the day when you want to go more glowy. This is very individual to your complexion and will take some trial and error. 

Emily here. HUGE thank you to Whitney for giving us tons of great advice and product recommendations. A few of us already bought the Supergoop Sunscreen and Ryann bought the Reflekt Exfoliating Face Wash and LOVES it. If you want more beauty advice and product recommendations be sure to follow Whitney on Instagram 🙂

If you are looking for ways to help support artists in the beauty, Support Creatives is filling the gap in the world of charities by providing artists in the industry with the proper support system they require during this tough time and beyond. The programs include:

  • Grants for Beauty Professionals: Financial Assistance for Beauty Industry Creatives to support their artistic endeavors, so that practical financial needs don’t get in the way of their artistic pursuits in difficult times. DONATE HERE
  • Mentorship Program: Guidance from well-established artists in the industry, both for artists just starting out or those interested in taking their careers to the next level.  
  • Education Programs: Live, online courses taught by industry professionals with an emphasis on current (and future) trends.

If you can help please do. xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Portland Reveal: How the Bathroom I Was Most Nervous About Turned Out to Be My Favorite

Fin Mark

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Kristi

This is a treasure trove of advice. Thank you Whitney!

@_the__list_

I am so so happy you liked it!! ❤️

Sue

What about eyeliner1. I’m looking for a liquid liner that really is easy to apply.
Pencils don’t work for me..any suggestions?

LouAnn

I’m not a fan of liquid liner myself. Too hard to apply. But I’ve had good luck with Urban Decay Glide-On Eyeliner. They’re creamier than most pencils. And go on really easy.

Amanda

Still has a liquid eyeliner that is stupid-proof for me and doesn’t budge. It comes in a pen with a fine tip.

Amanda

*stila

jj

the kat von d tattoo liner is great. Very fine line, easy to apply, i can wear it as a pale blonde who has little eyeliner experience

Lauren

Have you tried using wet eyeshadow on a liner brush (I like Sigma’s)? It’s much more forgiving than liquid liner.

LouAnn

Here’s a great mascara tip that I just learned this year. You know how black mascara on your bottom lashes often looks funky (some makeup artists don’t put mascara on those bottom lashes at all)? Instead, have 2 mascaras: black for the upper lashes and brown mascara for the lower lashes. The brown looks more natural and subtle. Looks so much better!!

Also: Never waste money on expensive mascara. It’s just not necessary. My go-to: Cover Girl Clump Crusher. Or L’Oreal Voluminous.

jules

L’Oreal Lash Paradise is also great but you need to change out tubes fairly frequently.

Heather

I loved this post. Thank you – I had no idea how to clean my make up brushes properly. This was beyond helpful. So many great tips!

@_the__list_

Oh I’m so glad!! I just recently cleaned all of my brushes – it’s such a great feeling!! ❤️

Kristyn

Here are a few clean brands that I love (after trying too many that didn’t work out):
Josh Rosebrook for face cleanser and sunscreen/lotion/day cream
Kosas for concealer, cream blush, highlighter, lipstick and lip gloss
Saie for mascara.
Herbivore for glycolic acid serum.
FYI I have super-sensitive thin/aging skin that reacts weirdly to too many oil products and will break out at the mention of a foaming cleanser.
Diet and sleep are the most effective factors for my skin that I do my best to consider.

Whitney’s tip about brush cleansing is gold and I’m definitely going to try the avocado oil to remove mascara. Thanks for all of this info!

I just have to put my vote in for Kindri products. (kindri.com) Vegan, well priced, lovingly made skin care that has made a huge difference for me. Her killer ingredients are prickly pear cactus oil and organic apple stem cell. I have a variety of cleansers I use, including good old washcloths, but the next layer during the day for me is Kindri’s Orange Smoothie. Besides the aforementioned killer ingredients, it has natural sunscreen ingredients, and I find it works for me inside/for short trips out (I can always feel the heat when my sunscreen “runs out”). At night, the cleanse again, and a few The Ordinary serums but I usually finish off with her Bloom Face Oil (with the killer ingredients). The difference that oil makes in how hydrated my skin looks when I wake up is jaw dropping! Without, I look like a well worn piece of cracked pavement next AM. With, wrinkles look diminished and skin is all plump and hydrated. I mean this stuff is unreal for the price — I tried Augustinus Bader and got no better results. There is more stuff and I could go on and on about each product — but if… Read more »

Erin

So helpful, but none of the Supergoop links work!

Hey Erin! I just checked and they seem to be working. Maybe give it another try xx

Melanie

Loved this article! Very informative and great tips. Going to try the reflekt face wash for sure.

@_the__list_

It’s such an amazing gentle hydrating exfoliant!! I hope you love it ❤️

Jessica

I’m really not into makeup, and my pre-pandemic day-to-day look was usually mascara and brow pencil (naturally thin brows 😛 ), but just reading this post felt very self-care! Might have to up my nighttime skincare routine!

I’m curious about the toner rec- I just can’t spend that much on something, so would you say that something cheaper is still better than nothing?

(Also: that bathroom! I’m copying everything as soon as it’s time to update the half bath)

@_the__list_

I love this so much!! I’m so glad you see it as self care!! Will you DM me and tell me about your skin so I can get a better understanding of your toner needs ❤️

Marsha

What a great post! I’m wondering why the “serum” is referred to as a “toner”?? Serums should be applied directly to the skin, so she is doing it right…

@_the__list_

I am so glad you liked it! The serum has a water like consistency – similar to a toner. I think you could use an additional toner if you wanted to but i felt like this simplified that step for me! ❤️

Brooke

I totally loved this post. Affordable price points (and a range for more indulgent purchases), clear detailed thought out information from one person’s vast experience with trying product. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and share Whitney! It was like a helpful extended Sephora review. *quick Q on the supergoop matte sunscreen- reading in Sephora reviews that if you’re active and sweating it runs and runs 🍊 orange down your face. Any thoughts on being quite active with this one? I know that mineral sunscreen in general doesn’t stay in place as well and requires more frequent application (says my dermatologist). I’ve also tried the supergoop Glow and really wanted to love it- but it was like Vaseline all over my face (as opposed to strategic shine). Still searching for the illusive bit of coverage, good spf (hx of skin cancer) and not runny or pilled (with moisturizer) product. I know, the bar seems high here. Also does anyone re apply these tinted SPF moisturizers like a sunscreen (Ie with the recommended re application every few hours if in the sun) or Do you have a separate sunscreen you re apply over the entire look throughout the… Read more »

Addie

I have fair skin that burns in 20-30 minutes. I have been using the CC cream by Juice Beauty for several years and it stays on really well. I even wore it on vacation in Puerto Rico, swimming and hanging out on the beach, and my face did not burn at all. It’s not a full coverage product, it’s a lighter one, so I do add some concealer for certain areas, but I love it and wear it nearly every day. https://juicebeauty.com/products/stem-cellular-cc-cream

This post was interesting and I am checking out some of the recommendations. I especially appreciate the clean/nontoxic products!

Brooke

Thanks for the info Addie! I appreciate the rec!

Andy

I’m a runner with combo skin and I have used retinoids for years. All this to say I need a daily sunscreen with a decent spf that stays in place through sweating and oil. I use the Coola Matte Tint spf 30 in the morning and it stays in place beautifully and helps disguise any pores or imperfections. I touch up throughout the day with the Colorscience Sunforgettable mineral sunscreen powder in spf 50 and I love how it blends in seamlessly whether I am wearing makeup or not. Hope this helps!

Julie

Helpful thank you! Has anyone tried Bobbi Brown foundations? Specifically the serum, foundation and SPF in one? Would be awesome to minimize steps!

Michelle

Loved this! Thanks!

Bethany

Love this post! Thank you!! Super excited to try the avo oil and the Living Libations oil cleanser! Question for Whitney or anyone that’s tried the Supergoop sunscreen—if you’re going for a dewy look, does it matte your skin so much that it would cancel out a product that provides a more dewy finish?

Maggie

Love this article! I’m hoping someone in the comments can help with something I’ve been trying to figure out for years. I wear bareMinerals powder foundation but if I try to wear sunscreen under it, it turns orange! I’m looking for a good SPF that will play nice under bareMinerals. I know there’s a little bit of SPF in the powder foundation but I need much more as a fair blonde.

jules

Try adding another mineral layer over it like the SunScience or Peter Thomas Roth sheer.

Lauren

If anyone is looking for an all-in-one makeup remover and cleanser, I love Deciem’s Hylamide High Efficiency Face Cleaner, and it’s only $15 for 4 ounces. If you apply it to dry skin it will remove waterproof mascara, yet it rinses off with just water. It’s pretty magical stuff.

Kristina

As an obsessive sunscreen user who avoids the benzones (which sadly Supergoop contains), I am a huge fan of Korean brand Purito’s Centella Green Level sunscreen which I originally discovered via The Strategist on NYMag. It’s affordable ($15 on amazon) and disappears into my skin without leaving the white coating that many non-benzone, zinc-based sunscreens do. It has a slightly herbacious scent (which I don’t mind) …so while it is “fragrance free”, it’s not “scent free”.

For outdoor activities where I’ll be breaking a sweat or beach days, I go with Kiss My Face products which are also benzone-free and dissolve well without a white residue.

izmir lazer epilasyon

Kristin

Do you use moisturizers in the AM and PM/ Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see any mention of moisterizers. Thanks!

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