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.
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 . . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Combining a contour shade lip liner with a nude lipstick will give your lips the illusion of being larger.
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 think a great inexpensive dupe for Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow wiz pencil is the NYX Micro Brow Pencil ($10).
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.
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 🙂
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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