beauty, tutorials

beauty must-haves

hi, friends

ask and ye shall receive!  i’ve gotten a lot of questions about how i do my makeup, so here’s what i’ve cooked up for y’all.  since i do not purport to be talented with cosmetics or anything close to a makeup artist (although i did do my friends’ makeup from time to time in college), i do have a good regimen that works for me, and  i think it is worth sharing.  if you like my makeup, i highly suggest you befriend an artist at a store like nordstrom, bloomingdale’s, or saks so you can take advantage of shopping at multiple counters with a salesperson who knows what they are doing.  i can personally attest to the fact that many of the employees in a nordstrom cosmetics department will sell you their favorite products from multiple counters, not just items from the one that they are based out of, based on your needs.  this has been an important part of my developing a skincare/beauty system that works for me (special shout out to my girls chelsea, brittany, and abigail, who never failed to help me and push me a bit outside of my comfort zone!).  this post is pretty long, so i’ve bolded the topic of each aspect of the routine so you can skip to the parts you’re most interested in.

i have very dry, sensitive skin, so moisturizer is key for me.  i recently turned 26 so i decided it was time to take the plunge in to the serious night cream territory, and i opted to dip my toes in to la prairie.  i haven’t had it too long, but so far i really love using it.  i find it to be more hydrating than la mer’s creme de la mer, so if you have slightly more normal to oily skin, that might be a better option for you!  for daytime, i just use cetaphil’s moisturizing lotion because it never burns or irritates my skin.  keep in mind that no matter what kind of makeup you buy, it really starts with your skin.  make sure to take care of it as best you can and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  use the best products you can afford (justify?) and, finally, do not sleep in your makeup, for crying out loud.  for my undereyes, i use kiehl’s avocado eye cream because it doesn’t irritate my eyes, although i need to be more consistent with it.


now i’m going to walk you through my daily makeup routine, starting with my face. after i’ve cleansed and moisturized, i start with the laura mercier foundation primer in radiance. this primer is so pretty and gives my skin a lovely, subtle glow. from time to time i’ll be feeling skeptical and i’ll go without it. it really makes a difference and gives my skin that extra dewy glow that is so pretty, fresh, and modern.  if you like that look, it’s definitely worth trying this primer, especially if you already have a foundation you love.  in summer i tend to use a laura mercier or bobbi brown tinted moisturizer, but once fall hits i usually need something more hydrating, but without much more coverage (i don’t like a lot of coverage).  i love bobbi brown’s tinted moisturizing balm.  it has spf 25 in it and smells a bit medicinal, but it really makes my skin look brighter and gives great coverage.  i tend to apply both the primer and the balm with my hands, but will apply them with a foundation brush if i have more time.  next i apply the bobbi brown corrector to my undereyes, followed by the bobbi brown creamy concealer kit (this is made up of a brightening powder and a cream concealer).  bobbi is known for her concealer, so if you haven’t found one you love, i recommend trying it out.  i’ve also heard really good things about nars’ radiant creamy concealer, but i haven’t yet tried it (it’s on my list).  i use ysl’s touche éclat as an optional step after i apply the concealer but before i apply the brightening powder, as time permits.  i apply it in the same places i apply highlighter (more on that in a bit) and on my eyelids.  after i am done, i apply a light dusting of the chanel loose powder.  this stuff is about $50 per pot, but it lasts me about a year, and it is a wonderful translucent powder.

the next step is contour/blush/highlight.  i take a bronzer brush and apply the bobbi brown brightening finishing powder (in bronze glow)as i would a bronzer.  i’d recommend getting some help choosing a bronzer so you can avoid wasting money on the wrong color.  i do a bit of contouring and apply it in the shape of a “3” along my hairline and temple,  in the hollow of my cheek from the top of my ear down towards my mouth, ending just under my the apples of my cheeks, and down along my jawline and blend it out.  i also apply it lightly from my jawline down onto my neck to blend it.  next i use the bobbi brown blush and sweep it over the apples of my cheeks, blending it into the bronzer.  the blush should overlap slightly with the bronzer to create the most natural finish.  next i apply laura mercier baked powder highlighter, and i usually use my fingers to do this.  i apply it to my cheekbones and brown bones in a kind of “c” shape, down the bridge of my nose, cupid’s bow, and just under my bottom lip where it meets my chin. i also apply a bit under my eye and in the inner corner.  the balm’s mary lou-manizer illuminating powder is a highlighter but it is especially awesome in the inner corner of your eye, and it is highly pigmented.  because i don’t wear eyeliner on a daily basis, this step is important to open up my eyes and make me look awake.  if i feel like i need a bit more glow, i’ll also apply a bit in the center of my forehead and blend it out.  after i’ve applied all three, i’ll take my powder brush (without any additional product) and sweep it all along my cheeks to make sure all three steps are blended.

now that i have bangs, i don’t worry as much about filling in my brows on a day-to-day basis since they are already pretty full, but i do fill them in when i take photos for the blog.  i recommend anastasia beverly hills’ products for your brows.  they are something i definitely would not recommend trying on your own — go in and have an artist match you for the look you want, because the color of the items you choose are extremely important.  i use the anastasia brow kit (except the stencils, i have no idea how to use those), the brow pencil, and the brow duality pencil as a highlight.  the basic technique is that i use the pencil to outline my brows (slightly inside the edge of hair growth), and then fill in using the powder that is included in the kit.  next i use the spooly at the end of the pencil to blend the powder/pencil and brush the hairs to make it look more natural.  next i apply the gel to hold it all in place, and use the duality pencil underneath my brow along the brow bone before blending that in. just a general rule when it comes to your eyebrows, when in doubt, step away from your tweezers.  full brows are very in right now, so take advantage of that!

for eyes, i think the most important product is mascara!  it’s the one cosmetic that i don’t really leave the house without (at least during the week).  also, keep in mind that mascaras are all different for everyone — you’re dealing with your own hair type, different formulas, and different brushes. personally, i believe that the most important thing is a big, fat, full mascara brush!  when you are shopping, ask the artists to show you the ones with the fuller brushes.  i’m not kidding, those make all the difference.  the ones with the teeny, plastic wands don’t do anything for me and i have a hard time believing they work for anyone.  i love bobbi brown’s extreme party and smokey eye mascaras so much that i use them both daily.  first i apply the smokey eye, and i top it off with a coat of extreme party.  i am blessed with long, full eyelashes, but these are a huge help.

also, invest in a nice eyelash curler.  the chanel curler is expensive, but it works so much better than the ones you get at the drug store.  trust me, i have tried them.  it’s worth the extra cash because the cheap ones don’t have as much tension to create a nice curl and they last a long time.  i’ve had mine for at least 3 years, probably longer.  when you’re curling your lashes, make sure you don’t hold them for too long, and curl once close to the base of your lashes, but also do another clamp closer to the middle.  that will help prevent you from curling too much to the point that they’re basically upright.  besides mascara, another thing i do daily is line my lower waterline with a nude nars eyeliner pencil called rue bonaparte. this is a trick my pal brittany taught me and helps to open up your eye to make them appear brighter and more awake!

when i do my eye makeup for my posts, you’re basically seeing me at my most made-up.  i personally think i look better with less makeup and don’t feel like myself with a heavy smokey eye, but i think they are beautiful on everyone else.  i love urban decay’s naked palette lines (i only have naked 1) because i love nudes, champagnes, and browns.  i think the best thing you can do is get a couple of easy, neutral shades that you can build and blend to wear everywhere from a natural, daytime look to a pretty smokey eye for night time.  this is something i’d recommend getting some help with if you don’t feel confident playing around on your own, but a palette like this can be really helpful since you can try several shades.  then, if you find something you love, you can buy the full size.  urban decay makes awesome eye shadows in millions of beautiful colors.  my favorite urban decay colors are sin (that’s my go-to shade for every day), sellout, virgin, half-baked, x, buck, dark horse, and smog.  they are all neutrals but go from light bones, champagnes and golds to darker browns.  you need both shimmery shades (for your lid and highlight) and matte shades (for the outer corner and crease) in your arsenal, so keep that in mind when you are shopping.  while you’re at it, ask the artist helping you the best method of eyeliner application for your eye and face shapes.  this can make a huge difference in your overall appearance, and it’s worth perfecting.  i use the bobbi brown gel eyeliner, and prefer to do a little cat eye. to be honest with you, i’m still working on perfecting it.

last but not least, let’s talk lips.  as you’ve probably noticed, i am pretty in to dark lipsticks lately, especially for my posts.  i think it looks modern and balances my girly style, but also it really helps frame my face for photographs.  however, i haven’t been wearing lipstick for very long.  just a year and half ago, i went through something i like to call “lipstick training wheels,” when my pals in the nordstrom cosmetics department would put me in a different lipstick every day for a couple weeks, starting with more neutral shades, then built me up to darker berries and brights.  it helped build my confidence with lipstick since i’d essentially only ever worn gloss.  even though i wanted to try lipstick and loved it on all my friends, i was a bit intimidated by it.  you can try a similar tactic by asking for help from your favorite salesperson and gradually building your collection, or by sampling lipsticks that you like on your friends (just make sure you sanitize them with a spritz of alcohol and wipe them down with a tissue before applying!).  go in to your favorite cosmetics department and ask an artist what shades will work best for you, and try them out in the store.  most of the people who work in these departments love doing makeup and are more than happy to get you in their chair, even if you can’t buy everything they apply.  what shade of lipstick works best on you is going to have a lot to do with your coloring, so it’s important to get some help if you aren’t sure.  some of my favorite lip colors are mac rebel, nars schiapheat wavecharlotte and liv, and bobbi brown rum raisin. i also love tarte’s lip stain in spirited for a lighter formula, easy application, but still a great color pay off (it also smells minty fresh, which i love!).

i hope this was helpful for you all.  please let me know if you have any more questions, or if there’s anything else you’d like me to delve a little deeper in to!

that’s a wrap, folks! ➸

many thanks for reading!

➳ alyssa

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