See How My Beauty Look Has Evolved Since High School, by Lindsay Ellingson
Everyone makes a beauty mistake or two at some point in their lives. For me, most of them were accomplished in middle school and high school. I was a shy, awkward teenager, and I followed all of the beauty trends from the late ’90s, including butterfly clips and thin brows. I didn't know any better... until, that is, the day I started modeling.
It was a rude awakening to realize that everything about my skin, hair, and makeup routines were not up to par. Thankfully, I’ve evolved over the years. Modeling and working with the best makeup artists and hairstylists all over the world for 11 years has been the best beauty school one could have.
Scroll through to see some of the transformations I’ve made and hear the best beauty lessons I've learned, as well as some embarrassing high school throwbacks! Enjoy!
I used to wear a lot of blush. I was a competitive dancer for eight years, so we did have to wear stage makeup—which we applied ourselves without any lessons—and yes, that was way too much blush! On school days, I toned it down with my favorite drugstore mascara and lip balm.
When I started modeling in 2004, I quickly learned that correct makeup application is everything! Backstage at my first fashion show for Christian Dior, makeup artist Pat McGrath kept the look minimal and fresh with beautiful dewy skin. The models looked so doll-like.
Makeup is a great tool—when applied correctly—to instantly hide flaws and accentuate your features. These days, my go-to is the “no-makeup” makeup look. Beautifully groomed brows, moisturized skin, concealer where you need, mascara, and a natural flush to the apples of my cheeks using Wander Beauty’s On-the-Glow Blush and Illuminator ($42), a product I developed to give women that post-vacation glow all year long.
When I started modeling, the only time I wore makeup was when I was working. Over the years, I started to learn so much about makeup application, formulas, global beauty trends, and skin-loving ingredients. I’ve tried and tested everything! My friends call me the walking Sephora because they can always count on me for a touch-up on the go. I even started doing my own makeup for red carpet events. It’s so much fun to experiment with color and translate what I see walking down the runways into a wearable look for a night out. Here are a couple of my favorite looks I applied myself…
Here, I’m channeling the ’60s with a subtle smoky eye and lots of lashes, using Huda Beauty’s Classic False Lashes ($20) in Claudia (light volume and natural style), paired with a pale peach lip.
My hair has been through it all over the years! In middle school, I would put my thick mane into a ponytail every morning and then wrap sections into hot rollers, eat my breakfast, and let the bouncy curls out just before I headed out the door. I eventually let go of the hot rollers, and there was a hot new trend I had to try: butterfly clips! I twisted tiny sections of my hair and clipped in as many butterflies as I could. Thankfully, that trend is long gone.
In high school, I experimented with different cuts: first a lob (not nearly as cool as the lobs on Byrdie); then short bangs; and finally I let it grow and got orange-y highlights.
For the last couple years, the only hairstylist and colorist I’ve trusted with my hair has been Chaz Dean. He highlights my hair without bleach. And I still get beautiful results, but without damaging my hair. My routine is simple: I use Wen’s SixThirteen Cleansing Treatment ($36) at night, go to sleep, and wake up with great texture. Unless I’m working, styling tools don’t come near my hair.
In middle school, a friend of mine convinced me that my thick Brooke Shields-esque brows needed to be waxed, and I blindly listened without considering the consequences. After waxing, I continued to pluck my shape away through high school. I know so many women can relate to this horrible ’90s beauty blunder.
Once I entered the world of modeling, I quickly realized that natural, never-been-touched brows were in. So I started to let my eyebrows grow. In fact, I rarely ever picked up tweezers.
During that transitional phase, I was on a the hunt for the perfect brow pencil, pen, powder, or pomade that could fill in my holes without making my brows look drawn on and clown-like.
It wasn’t until I traveled to Japan eight years ago that I learned how to correctly shape and fill in my brows. The makeup artist used gentle hair-like strokes to mimic the shape of my hair, and instead of darkening them like most artists tended to do, he used a shade lighter for a more natural look that framed my face beautifully. It was a game changer for me—I instantly felt more confident.
Today, my eyebrows are not quite back to pre-waxing status, but I’m happy with them—minus two small holes that I’ve been working on with RevitaBrow Conditioner ($110). I’m also currently developing an innovative brow product for Wander Beauty, and I’m very excited to share that with you later this year!
In high school, I used harsh cleansers on my skin that ended up making it more dry, causing breakouts. It was a vicious cycle I didn’t understand at the time. When I started modeling, my skin freaked out a little, thanks to the countless amount of times makeup was applied to my face during fashion week. It’s taken me years to understand my body inside-out and find the products that work best for me.
Today, my skincare routine consists of mostly all natural and organic products. In the morning, I gently cleanse my skin with Bioderma Crealine ($17) and moisturize with Weleda’s Iris Hydrating Day Cream ($20), followed by a dusting of ColorScience’s Mineral SPF 50 ($41). At night, I wash my makeup away with Ildi Pekar’s Honey Cleanser ($65) and deeply moisturize with a mix of Pratima Skincare’s Vitamin C Serum ($32) and Rejuvenating Essential Oil ($40).
The lesson I learned after years of struggle is to not strip your skin—it shouldn’t feel tight and dry after cleansing. I finally found that balance and know that if you listen to your body you can, too!
How has your skincare routine changed over the years?