It’s amazing how many products it now takes to look the same way I did a few years ago, sailing out of the house with a clean-scrubbed face and a swipe of lip balm.
I have never bought into that secretive, ‘what? I woke up this way’ vibe that sometimes creeps in to competitive female dynamics, which I loathe, whether it’s beauty, fashion, cooking, or home stuff. I’m more of a socialist – let’s pool and share our knowledge.
So if you’re blonde, fair-skinned, have blue/green eyes, and feel like you need some new directions in makeup, read on. Most of my ‘holy grail’ makeup finds have come to me courtesy of AskMetafilter, MakeupAlley and my new girl crush, Sali Hughes.
First things first – what kind of face issues am I dealing with whenever I contemplate leaving the house? I’ve got sensitive skin that likes to go red whenever I even think about a cup of tea, spicy food, wine, cold weather, hot weather, or Outlander. Thanks to heredity, questionable lifestyle choices and strong prescription glasses, I’ve got dark circles and puffy bags under my eyes that make people ask me if I’m feeling ok. Those same eyes have ‘hooded’ lids, making many intricate, smokey eye and winged eyeliner looks best left to others. And I’ve never really been a big, bold eye-makeup look kind of gal anyway, so if someone has to have hooded eyelids, it might as well be me.
Following the Oil Cleansing Method means I’ve finally left acne behind, and wrinkles are holding off for the most part, courtesy of the portrait I’ve hidden in the attic. Nothing touches my face but a warm, wet washcloth, a tiny swipe of micellar water for stubborn eye makeup, and 4 drops of jojoba oil once or twice a day. OCM is a bit of a dangerous beastie – your mileage will most definitely vary – so I cannot endorse it without a strict warning to do your research and commit to it with trepidation. One major bonus to having a very inexpensive skincare regime is that it’s easier to justify pricier makeup brands.
So, now I’ve got a gently scrubbed face that has been treated with 4 drops of jojoba oil, chosen for how closely it resembles the sebum human skin produces. Time to get ‘normal’ looking. I am NOT a makeup artist, and not an expert in any way – in fact I’m surprised that between not-very nimble fingers and being virtually blind without glasses on that I manage to do an OK job of it at all. Please tell me in private if I don’t.
So, getting started with clean and moisturised skin, I use the following products:
NYX Dark Circle Concealer – does what it says on the tin, with a peachy tint to counteract the purple smudges. Opposites on the colour wheel don’t lie – it’s science.
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream – miracle in a bottle. Smooths out uneven skin texture and colouring, bounces light around and never, ever makes my skin break out, even if I fall asleep without washing my face.
MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Painterly – a nude beige that makes an excellent eyeshadow primer, or use it alone for an angelic, wide-awake look.
Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Wheat – a medium ash beige that I use to cover my lids and creeps up over my crease a wee bit.
Clinique Lash Power Flutter-to-Full Mascara in Black Onyx – I’m new to tubing mascaras and a total convert, no more raccoon eyes. Staying subtle, I stick to the ‘flutter’ setting.
Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey – hearing about foolproof shades that look good on everybody is my catnip.
If I’m in a rush, that’s it. Donezo. And nobody will ask me if I’m feeling ‘peaky’.
My ‘See You in Hell’ look
If you remember that awesome oughties duo, the Etiquette Grrls, they have a wonderful concept, their ‘See You in Hell’ look, reserved for occasions both nasty (giving notice at your loathsome job, lunching with an ex) and nice (weddings, job interviews), any time when you need to ‘bring it’ hard, pull out the stops and look amazing.
On an ‘I’m worth it’ pilgrimage, and homesick for Sephora, I ended up in Space NK and spent a small fortune on two products; a foundation and a concealer that are too expensive for every day, but come out as extra steps on ‘See You in Hell’ days:
The jury was out and the sticker-shock was prolonged, but one day I caught a glance at my reflection in a train window and was astounded at how dewy and glowy I looked, so yeah, I can sleep at night.
Living in The North as I do, my ‘evening look’ is laughably subtle but as it also usually includes a very simple dress, or more often a pair of jeans and a nice top. It works for me and that’s all that matters, kids.
Building on my ‘See You in Hell’ look, I swap out Wheat for a slightly stronger pigmented eyeshadow and correspondingly subtle, pale lipstick for a bit of a 60s mod look:
MAC Eye Shadow in Satin Taupe – a plummy taupe that brings out the green in my eyes
NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita – another foolproof lipstick shade
Or I do my ‘See You in Hell’ look and go darker with my lipstick:
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry – being faint of heart, and bold of eyeglass frame, I tend to apply this more as a lipstain rather than full-on ‘here are my lips’. Besides, I’m rubbish at remembering to reapply lipstick.
Nails are usually short and blissfully bare, for that ‘I cook and clean a lot’ look that telegraphs my disdain for rubber gloves. I like to go a wee bit goth with Essie’s Wicked, a wonderfully dark red that looks especially awesome on toes. When I want to look neat and tidy, Essie’s Mademoiselle is my pale pink go-to. My nails can’t handle shellac very often, but when I get that done, I go for the darkest red I can find.
If you’re more into visuals, I’ve collected images of these products on my Pinterest Beauty Board.
I shall conclude by stating that I do not receive any compensation for mentioning and linking to these products, this is just a list of what works for me.