Beauty Editor Chronicles: I Did My Makeup Using Only Products I Found on My Desk

Updated 04/14/19
Erin Jahns

I test-drive tons of new products every month, and it takes a lot to impress me. It takes even more to inspire a permanent deviation from my set-in-stone routine. But considering I'm a beauty editor—and therefore have access to tons of exciting products on an everyday basis—this is slightly depressing. I can do better, I thought to myself recently, and after giving my product-strewn cubicle a cursory once-over, I decided enough was enough.

It was time to break away from my routine and replace every single one of my trusted go-tos with new-to-me finds. A brief disclaimer: As a self-confessed control freak, something as minor as a sunset-hued eyeliner can make me a teensy bit clammy. But I was determined. The only question? Of all the products I had at my disposal, how would I choose what to use? (Ask anyone who's ever gone with me for an ice cream cone—when faced with too many options, I choke.)

To prevent myself from overthinking things, I decided my best bet was to approach my desk with a fresh set of eyes. After finding a product to match each of my normal steps, I gathered my haul, rolled up my sleeves, and got to it. Miraculously, I was thrilled with the results, and all three editors who sit next to me complimented my appearance within seconds of arriving at the office. (When equally picky editors compliment your makeup, you know you've struck gold.) Keep scrolling for the 11 products I used straight from my desk.

Erin Jahns
Physician's Formula The Healthy Foundation SPF 20 $13
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Truth be told, I've only ever loved one drugstore foundation in my life. Thus, this relatively new launch sat in the mountain of products surrounding my desk for far too long. (Especially considering the fact that our editorial director, Faith Xue, has praised it as one of her favorites!) However, after blending it out with my fingers (I was brush- and blender-less for this experiment), I was pleasantly surprised.

First, the doe-foot applicator is brilliant and raises the bar where product design is concerned. Second, there's an ample amount of SPF in the formula; it fits my day-to-day craving for buildable medium to full coverage with a feather-light feel. Read: It doesn't feel like you're wearing anything. I liked that the finish wasn't too matte or too dewy—I'd describe it as "satin"— and my fellow editors couldn't get over how great my skin looked.

I never thought I'd say this, but I may have found my new favorite foundation. And yes, it's less than $15.

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra Longwear Concealer $28
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My co-worker and roommate, Amanda Montell, and I recently found the full shade range of this Laura Mercier concealer in the beauty closet. Intrigued, we both pinched a tube in our respective colors. And after declaring it one of the best makeup products she tried in the month of June, I was excited to try it out for myself.

I love a doe-foot applicator (I apply it under my eyes, around my nostrils, and on my chin), and I was impressed by the coverage—it takes a lot to conceal my dark circles. It's also a dream to blend, and though I did notice some creasing by the end of the day (more so than my go-to concealers), it still did a stellar job, and I'll continue to experiment with it.

theBalm Take Home the Bronze Anti-Orange Bronzer $18
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I don't really feel like myself without a healthy hit of bronzer and contour. I'm also insanely picky about color and have been stuck on the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer ($30) for years. That being said, I've always had a soft spot for theBalm and swear by a few of its other products (like this highlighter and this bronzer), so I was feeling pretty good about trying this one out.

Thankfully I was able to scrounge up a feasible brush for a quick application; I dusted it underneath my cheekbones, the sides and tip of my nose, and around my hairline, chin, and jawline. To be honest, the shade was a little more pink than I would have liked, and I was missing my usual Too Faced pick by the end of the day. However, there are two other shades available, and they might be better options for me. I'll keep you posted.

Kosås Color & Light: Creme in Tropic Equinox $34
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I was recently gifted this dreamy, creamy blush-bronzer-highlight hybrid palette from Violet Grey, and couldn't wait to break it out for a trial. I'd actually never personally tried anything from the brand but had heard magical things—especially regarding its lipsticks. (Seriously, Kosås, call me.) Therefore it wasn't all too surprising I fell in love with this compact.

I usually go for punchier shades of blush (I adore anything from Nars and Hourglass), but this earthier combo was pure gold—and perfect for a quick application job at my desk. (Truly, I never thought I'd love such a neutral color.) Plus, with prettifying ingredients like marula, rose-hip seed, grape seed, green tea, and myrrh, I felt good about massaging it into my finicky skin. Truth be told, I wasn't a huge fan of the highlight side (only because I like a more saturated shimmer), but the bronzey blush was super-blendable and will be a new staple for me.

Farsáli Jelly Beam Illuminator in Glow Up $40
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I love a good highlight (it's one of the most important steps of my routine), and even though I appreciated the sheer dose of shimmer the Kosås palette delivered, I wanted a little more oomph. (Plus, I didn't feel like it blended as seamlessly into my foundation like I wanted it to.) So after taking one look at this gelatinous illuminator from Farsáli, I thought I'd take the plunge.

Although I have yet to jump on the jelly makeup and skincare bandwagon, this formula is pretty. Initial intimidation aside (it just doesn't look like something that will apply well), the jelly offers the perfect ratio of saturation, iridescence, and blendability. (Seriously, the end result is so pretty—definitely one of the reasons my co-workers immediately commented on my skin the day of my experiment.)

Plus, considering the relatively steep price tag, I liked that a little went a long way. Just make sure to start blending the formula out immediately after applying—otherwise it starts to dry and may get too tacky for a natural-looking result. (It applies like a gel and sets like a powder.)

Urban Decay 24/7 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil $21
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To put this in perspective, I pretty much never wear eye shadow; my daily eye look consists of a catty swipe of jet-black liquid liner. In other words, this rich metallic shade of reddish brown was a pretty major departure for me. I've always loved the velvety application of Urban Decay's eyeliners, and this color went seamlessly with the minimal makeup look I was going for while offering some contrast to the blue of my eyes. I'll definitely continue swiping this one on. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the end result is actually a lot less metallic (read: flashy) than the packaging would lead you to believe.

If you're not in the mood for black or a bold swipe of color, I can't recommend this intense bronze enough.

Glossier Lash Slick $16
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Usually my mascara application is the most painfully drawn-out part of my routine. But with emails, meetings, and deadlines beckoning, I needed some definition, length, and separation—fast. Lash Slick doesn't offer the dramatically long, voluminous impact I usually go for, but it does offer a flattering, fluttery look that was on par with the rest of my deskside aesthetic. It's my go-to for minimal makeup days, and it's actually one of the few mascaras to not weigh my lashes down after I curl them.

I'm obsessed and get tons of compliments on my lashes whenever I'm wearing it.

ModelCo More Brows Fibre Gel in Light Medium $18
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I never use brow gels, pomades, or anything that has the potential to wind up looking goopy or too severe against my pale skin and light blonde hair. I have pretty dark brows, but they aren't super full. Therefore, fine-tipped brow pencils in Blonde or Taupe are the only products I'll usually touch with a 10-foot pole. However, Amanda has been talking nonstop about this formula, I've loved everything else I've tried from ModelCo, and this was the only brow product sitting at my desk. So gel it was!

Skeptical though I was, this product immediately impressed me. The tint was super subtle, but it did effectively beef up my brows. The color was just right, and again, my co-workers immediately asked what I used on my brows. Of course, Amanda took one look at me and knew it was ModelCo. Overall, it gets an A++.

Lip Wardrobe
Rodin Lip Wardrobe in Berry Baci $38
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I'm completely obsessed with Rodin's lipsticks. Like, obsessed in a way where I question if I'll ever again wear any other formula. They offer the prettiest pigments and luxurious application (thanks to high-quality ingredients like jasmine oil, neroli oil, rose flower wax, lavender flower wax, apricot oil, and argan oil), and they basically make your lips look and feel like a supple, slightly glistening pillow of color. They're worth the investment, and not to sound like a broken record, but Amanda told me my lips looked amazing.

(Needless to say, she's now committed to borrowing my stash of Rodin lippies.)

MAC Lipglass in Clear $17
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Normally I'm not a lip-gloss girl, but this iconic tube from MAC is one I can tolerate (and even like) on occasion. Plus, it was sitting right next to my mouse and looked tempting. Since the rest of my makeup was pretty subtle and shimmery, I figured I might as well swipe some on, and it really complemented the dewy formula of the Rodin lipstick. It's a little tacky, yes, but again, it's quite possibly the most iconic lip gloss ever. And call me superficial, but I'm drawn to cult favorites. My one qualm: It comes off super easily.

(I actually mistakenly snapped the above photo of myself after drinking my morning coffee, and the gloss was no longer detectable.)

Caudalíe Beauty Elixir $18
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I bring a travel-size version of this cult-favorite mist everywhere I go only because it's one of the only face mists I don't find revolting. As the grand finale of my deskside makeup experiment, I spritzed it lightly over my entire face to keep my work in place for the remainder of my day. It smells lightly herbaceous and lovely, and I'm convinced it just makes the end application look better all around. 

Also read, I went 21 hours without retouching my makeup—here's every product I used.

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