I’m now two months into the fall semester, which has been an especially busy one. My mantra for this year is “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” and that extends to makeup. (Ironically, it doesn’t extend to this post, which I’ve been tweaking for over a month now.) I’ve had to perfect a makeup routine that is 1) quick and easy to apply in the morning, 2) classroom-appropriate, and 3) long-lasting enough to survive as many as four back-to-back classes. Though I still derive pleasure from putting on my makeup in the morning, there’s little room for artistry on teaching days. For the most part, I stick to the same techniques and the same handful of products—a little sad, but it can’t be helped. This post will be a guide to the products that have helped me pare down my routine to a mere four minutes and fifty-two seconds (yes, I timed myself one morning):
The biggest factor in reducing my primping time has been streamlining my color scheme in both clothing and makeup. Since most of my work clothes are cool-toned and most of my tops are some shade of blue, I’ve been leaning heavily on makeup in the mauve-plum-berry family. I now understand why some people choose a small assortment of products at the beginning of each week and rotate them out the next week. While I’m not quite that meticulous, I appreciate knowing that I’m going to wear one of three blushes, not one of twenty, on any given morning. This method also discourages me from purchasing makeup—or clothing, for that matter—that doesn’t fit my routine or palette. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting some of my favorite warm-toned makeup, but there are always tradeoffs.
Step 1: Skincare. I’ve been wearing the same sunscreen-moisturizer cocktail for years now: Bioré Aqua Rich Watery Gel over Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer. Check out that comically tall bottle of sunscreen!
Step 2: Brows. I used to be a Glossier Boy Brow devotee, but I couldn’t stand paying $17 for a product that lasted only a few months, so I switched to elf Wow Brow in Neutral Brown. It’s not a perfect dupe—the elf brush doesn’t distribute pigment quite as evenly as the Glossier one, sometimes depositing clumps of product that I have to remove with another brush—but it’ll do.
Step 3: Eyes. I’ve largely abandoned eyeshadow and returned to my old love, brown pencil eyeliner. I use NYX Brown Perfection for cooler-toned looks and Urban Decay Whiskey for warmer-toned ones, drawing a thin line on my upper lashline, then smudging and setting with an angled brush and ColourPop eyeshadow in Bedrock, from the That’s Taupe palette. When I do use eyeshadow, it’s usually a one-and-done cream shadow like ColourPop Bill or Truth, or a subtle shimmer like ColourPop Glass Bull; as the holidays approach, I’ll likely start using some of my more sparkly shadows, too. My current go-to mascara is CoverGirl Lash Exact Waterproof, which has the same subtle lengthening effect that Glossier Lash Slick does, but is more accessible and about $10 cheaper.
Step 4: Concealer. I apply NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly to my undereye circles, then use a kabuki brush to set the concealer with the pink half of the 2aN Cheek Tint Blush Palette in Cotton Candy Violet (a recommendation from Lena). Technically, it’s blush, but it’s so light and sheer that it doesn’t actually show up as a color on my skin.
Step 5: Blush. I slip into a dalliance with cream blushes every summer, but I inevitably return to powder formulas come fall. Powder blush is a mainstay for good reason: it’s easier to apply than liquid or cream blush, and it tends to fade more slowly throughout the day. (My Glossier Cloud Paints, by contrast, seem to vanish from my face within a few hours.) I’ve been using some very old favorites recently: NARS Mata Hari, Sleek Flushed, and Urban Decay Rapture. I’ve owned Mata Hari for almost a decade and still haven’t managed to hit pan. L-R: Mata Hari, Rapture, Flushed.
Swatches, L-R: Flushed, Rapture, Mata Hari.
Step 6: Lips. I have strict requirements for the lip colors I wear on school days. They need to coordinate with my work wardrobe. They need to be quick and easy to apply—no fussing with lip pencil or Q-tips. They need to stand up to a few hours of talking and water sipping, since I generally don’t have time between classes to glance in a mirror and fix my makeup. If they do fade, they need to fade evenly, leaving no noticeable patchiness, dryness, or smudges.
I own several dozen lipsticks, but only a handful fit those criteria. Here are the five I’ve been wearing most often this fall, L-R: Urban Decay Vice Hydrating Lipstick in Hideaway, YSL Tatouage Couture in Crimson Rivals, Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Blackberry, & Other Stories Cassis Hymn, and NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Damned.
Swatches, same order. Yes, Hideaway and Cassis Hymn appear to be basically the same shade, but I promise they look different on my lips. (OK, they’re not that different, but I ordered Cassis Hymn sight unseen and it was on final sale, so I’m making it work.)
Now for the full looks! If there’s one thing I don’t have time for this semester, it’s carefully lit and framed selfies, so you’ll have to excuse the cluttered backgrounds of these photos.
Here I am this past Tuesday, wearing UD Whiskey, Sleek Flushed, Bobbi Brown Blackberry, and my “I Voted Today” sticker (how ’bout those midterms, huh?). I layered Blackberry over lip balm, so it looks shinier than usual.
And here’s a more pink-toned look: ColourPop Bill, NARS Mata Hari, and NARS Damned. (Plus frizzy hair, because the weather has been bizarrely warm and humid recently.)
And I’m off to scale a mountain of grading. My weeklong Thanksgiving break starts in just six days, so here’s hoping I’ll be able to write another post soon!