I’ve always had a weird relationship with makeup. In theory, I’m obsessed with its transformative properties and will tumble down a rabbit hole of makeup-related YouTube videos faster than you can say “smoky eye tutorial.” In practice, however, I don’t find myself wearing a lot of it on a regular basis. Partly because I hate the expectation that women need to wear makeup to look presentable (I think this whole #nomakeup movement is great) and, as a mom of two little kids that also works part-time, I just don’t have the desire to spend more than a few minutes staring into a mirror every day.
That said, I do my best to make those few minutes count. I’ve found that a bit of makeup can be a fun little pick-me- up when much of your life might not feel very glamorous and the long days (and nights!) of motherhood are showing on your face. So I’m always thrilled when I discover great products that maximize my simple beauty routine. Below are a few of my current favorites.
If I had to pick only one item of makeup to wear, it would be under eye concealer. Brightening up that area and covering up my ever present dark circles really seems to lighten up my whole face. I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect concealer for years now, which basically means I’ve spent a small fortune trying to look like I consistently get 8 hours of sleep at night. And although I’ve tried products that cost three times as much and others that are specially formulated for the under eye area, I keep coming back to this NYX concealer. The coverage is great, it’s creamy and blendable, and you can’t beat the price.
I’d been using the elf knockoff version of this set for a couple of weeks when I stopped into Sephora to compare the two, and in my opinion the NARS version is worth every penny of the price difference. There’s a reason that Orgasm blush is such a cult beauty product, since it is indeed that perfect peachy pink that makes your face look slightly flushed and dewy, and the accompanying Laguna bronzer subtly warms up your face without making it look dirty or orange. Both products are silky enough to blend right into your skin without making it look dry or powdery, and the sleek miniature packaging is great for saving space in your makeup bag. I use this kit for quick contouring with this brush:
Real Techniques brushes are one of the best beauty bargains out there, and this one is a great multitasker. You can use it for powder, bronzer, or blush and I’ve found that it works perfectly for applying bronzer in the hollows of my cheekbones for subtle contouring. Since I tend to do my makeup on the go a lot and keep all my essentials in one bag, I also love that this brush is compact and has a cap to keep it from getting dirty.
It’s a real bummer when you take the time to apply makeup only to have it rub off or fade within a couple of hours. I was skeptical of this Urban Decay setting spray when it claimed to extend the life of your makeup by 16 hours, but after using it I can definitely tell a considerable difference. Even after a long day of two little kids pawing at my face, my makeup still looks fresh and polished.
If there is one product on this list that has been a total game changer for me, it’s this. I have always been super lazy about skincare and have slept in my makeup more often than I care to admit. Most cleansers or makeup removers make my skin feel funky, and washing my face just feels like way too much of a production when I’m bone tired at night. Enter micellar water. You can read all about the science and benefits of this stuff here, but the short version is that it removes makeup and cleanses skin in one easy step with no rinsing required. It also has zero fragrance or residue and doesn’t dry out my skin. I’ve been using it for a year and am completely converted. (Note: this brand also sells pre-soaked micellar wipes, which are fine in a pinch but I really prefer using it out of the bottle with a cotton pad).
What are some of your beauty favorites?