After so many years writing about makeup, some people might get bored of it, but makeup and I are still in our honeymoon phase. I love everything about the stuff: the artistic expression, the relaxing process of applying it, the excitement of a new launch hitting makeup counters. No exaggeration: Every time a volumizing mascara or lip color comes out, no matter how many I already own, I experience a visceral, physiological reaction signaling that I need to put that ish on my face. I think you get the point: I kind of, sort of like makeup.
That said, on the daily, I don't tend to change up my makeup routine. While I love to write about unique makeup trends and play around with them on special occasions, my everyday look and product collection are pretty nailed down. In fact, I've gotten so used to doing my everyday makeup a certain way that I can't even see it anymore. In other words, while I dish out makeup advice all day long, it's hard for me to take an objective look at whether or not my products are really serving my lifestyle (and my face) as well as they could.
So I thought it was high time I solicit a pair of professionals to give me some perspective. Here's how it worked: I sent a detailed report of my go-to makeup routine to celebrity makeup artists Min Min Ma and Suzy Gerstein of Honey Artists and asked them to tell me which parts I could stand to improve. Between them, these gurus have worked with the likes of Zosia Mamet, Christy Turlington-Burns, and Millie Bobby Brown, so they were more than qualified to tell the honest truth. Keep scrolling to see which products got kicked out of my routine.
I don't tend to wear foundation because, first of all, I definitely don't have time for all that every day, and second, I don't like covering up my freckles. Instead, I use a full-coverage concealer under my eyes, on either side of my nose, on my forehead, and on any blemishes.
Ma commended my minimal approach to face makeup, saying, "Because I'm such a naturalist, I always recommend less is more especially when it comes to … skin makeup. Let the skin breathe and be free, and save the fun for eyes and lips makeup instead!"
According to Ma, there's nothing technically wrong with my concealer, but since I'm pressed for time in the morning, she recommended switching to an "all-in-one" product that can double as a concealer, moisturizer, and SPF, like Amarté's BB cream. "This is a sheer moisturizer with a slight tint to even out any imperfections, and because summer is coming, let's up the SPF," she says.
Ma also encouraged me to aim for more natural coverage so the makeup looks seamless and blended. "Lately I've been experimenting a lot with hybrid concealers such as Charlotte Tilbury's The Retoucher Conceal and Treat Stick," she says. "This is best of both worlds: A product that covers imperfections and under-eye darkness without leaving skin looking made-up and highlights areas like cheekbones, brow bones, bridge of the nose, and Cupid's bow."
Admittedly, I fell victim to last year's highlighter fixation, and no matter how many times I report that glittery powder highlighters are out, I can't help but reach for my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in Champagne Pop ($38) every day. I use a fluffy powder brush to apply this on my cheekbones down the bridge of my nose and in the inner corners of my eyes, because trendy or not, I'm attracted to sparkles.
So I wasn't surprised when Gerstein suggested I try a more natural cream highlighter instead. "I do love that Becca product, but I would stick to a creamy product that's more light reflective than shimmery for your go-to highlighter," she says. "It has to look believable in direct sunlight." For an everyday highlight, her favorite is RMS's nude-toned luminizer, which "looks like skin and melts in rather than sitting on top of your face like powder highlighters tend to do."
As for application, Gerstein recommended skipping the nose highlight and using a lighter hand on the cheekbones. "I can't tell you how many girls I've seen walking down the street (and on set) who look like they have glittery Nike swooshes you can see from outer space on the tops of their cheeks," she dishes. "Not necessary and not flattering in most light."
For years, I've been on autopilot with my bronzer, applying a taupe-hued powder under each cheekbone and around my hairline without a second thought.
I had never even considered Gerstein's genius recommendation for achieving a natural daytime bronze: Dr. Hauschka's "fluid bronzer," which you "simply mix with your moisturizer and apply with fingertips." Not only is this type of product faster to apply, but it's also "more modern than the contour style of applying bronzer with a brush under your cheekbones," Gerstein says. While my bronzing powder still works well in nighttime scenarios, when the lighting is lower and softer, Dr. Hauschka's lightweight liquid offers a barely-there glow that is "more natural-looking and forgiving in all types of lighting scenarios."
I use the same Kashoen powder brush to apply my bronzer, blush, and powder. To my delight, neither artist criticized me for using the same brush for all three products, but Gerstein did suggest I swap out my big, fluffy brush of choice for a smaller one, like the Surratt Beauty pick above.
"I like a smaller, more tapered one like this for powdering because it gives you more control rather than creating sort of a blanket matte finish," she says. "By powdering with a brush like this, you can keep your glow in places like the center of the nose and cheeks and only target the specific areas where you want to cut shine. Not to mention it feels like heaven on the face."
To set my concealer, I currently use a pressed powder that I feel pretty "meh" about, and I haven't taken the time to find a great alternative. So I was eager to see what my experts would suggest. "I would use Mally's Face Defender with the big sponge included," Ma recommended. "This is a makeup artist's cult product. It smoothes out pores and fine lines while leaving the skin matte looking without that cakey powdery look."
This unique product works like a powder, but actually sports a sort of waxy texture. According to Ma, it offers much sheerer, natural-looking coverage and can be used on bare skin, over concealer, or over full face makeup. Just use the included Japanese sponge to pat the product wherever you want to look matte and poreless.