Those of you who knew me back in high school know that I didn’t have the best skin. A lot of people liked to offer me advice. Sometimes it would be in a way that was a genuine attempt at being helpful, but would really just bother me (ie. “Have you tried ___ product?” Why yes, yes I have…I have tried every single product on earth). Other times it was just a straight-up insult (i.e. “Don’t you wash your face?”). My skin was a major issue of discontent for me, and I literally tried so hard to make it better that I probably just irritated it more. I would try everything from Neutrogena to ProActive, Clinique to Clearasil. I tried some over the counter stuff, saw a dermatologist, and almost went on Accutane (I had an allergic reaction to the test medication they give you before you are allowed to take it). Having acne always made me feel incredibly self-conscious and ugly, but the reason I had it was entirely hormonal and had nothing to do with how well I took care of my skin.
As I matured, my skin got a lot better…all by itself. I didn’t use a miracle product or get chemical peels and microderm abrasion; I just grew up. I know that is hard to hear if you are a teen reading this who struggles with acne. If I had told myself at 15 that I would just have to wait it out it wouldn’t have made me feel better. But the fact of the matter is that even though I would have given anything for clear skin back then, it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I still break out all the time. It has taken me years to accept that I will never be a person with “perfect” skin. I’m pale and freckly and prone to breakouts. But you know what? I feel pretty good about myself.
I guess it goes without saying that I care about appearance a lot…I write a blog about personal aesthetics. But I was also a women’s studies major in college, and I have a full appreciation and belief in a personal and varied definition of beauty. I meant for this post to just be a simple description of my favorite beauty products, but I just thought it would be nice to give you some insight into how I got here. Now I have a bathroom full of products that I love and that really work for me! I am all for experimentation, as getting here took me a lot of trial and error, but hopefully what has worked for me may work for you too! Below are my main beauty staples and why I love them. If you have a favorite product, don’t hesitate to tell me, I would love to try it!
1. Self Tanner: Avene Eau Thermale Moisturizing Self-Tanner. This is a product I literally started using just a few weeks ago. As I mentioned, I have always been pale. However, when I lived in Florida, I at least maintained some semblance of a natural base color that was completely lost this past winter. Now that it is hot again, I am not a huge fan of showing off my completely opaque white legs without a little something-something, if you know what I mean. So I read reviews while I was in Duane Reade and randomly decided to try this on a whim. Let me tell you, I have only ever used one other self tanner. I don’t remember what it was, but I was in high school and it made my legs orange and streaky. I decided to wear shorts anyway, and everyone made fun of me. Also, I remember it smelled like cornflakes. This stuff, on the other hand, was AMAZING. No odor, no color, and it was not greasy. I mixed it with a little moisturizer and put it everywhere (including my face). I took a nap and woke up tan. Not orange, not smelly, and not streaky, but a perfect bronze glow similar to what my boyfriend has naturally by birth (not fair!). If this isn’t enough to convince you, literally a week later I went to a beauty Q&A hosted by none other than actress and model Molly Sims. I asked her “How do you keep your glow in the summer?” She responds, “You know I use this random stuff I found at the drug store…It’s spelled like A-v-e-n-e I think? It’s this totally random product…but it is such a good self-tanner.” I kid you not, I completely freaked. I was yelling at Molly Sims “OMG I AM WEARING THAT RIGHT NOW!” Anyway, I promise my other product reviews won’t be this long, but seriously if you are super pale you should go buy this.
2. Cleanser: SkinCeuticals Clarifying Cleanser. An aesthetician turned me on to this stuff when I got a facial in college, and I haven’t used anything else since. It has a scrub in it, and I personally need daily exfoliation. It is the only thing that I have used long-term that has been able to keep my skin clear. Other products stop working for me after a while. If they ever stop making this I will protest and/or die.
3. Moisturizer: SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. I also use SkinCeuticals toner, by the way, but I didn’t want my whole recommendation list to be every product that they make (I also dig their masques and sunblock). They are just a really great line. Very clean, very basic. Not a lot of alcohol in their products and no odors or dyes. But this product is a personal favorite and I use it daily. I love this gel in the summer, it is not greasy at all. In the winter it doesn’t quite get the job done, but in the summer this little miracle product is worth the investment. I know it is expensive; I was hesitant to buy it for a long time even though I was using almost exclusively their products. However, I bought my first bottle like a year ago and it is still half full (I’m an optimist!). You really just don’t need that much.
4. Sunscreen: Kiehl’s BB Cream: I use sunscreen as my daytime moisturizer, and this tinted version is awesome! I love it because I don’t even need concealer or foundation on top of this. The tint is light, and it won’t make you break out. I think this is particularly great because I have found that the more that I avoid using actual makeup the better my skin looks. This is hard to do when you are working and going out everyday, but BB Cream is a great secret to avoiding heavier products! And you’re protecting yourself from skin cancer, so who could ask for more?
5. Eye Cream: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye Cream. I’m 23, but I have this paranoia that I have these terrible eye wrinkles and bags that actually are probably not noticeable to anyone but me if I am being honest… But it is preventative! It’s better to start early right? And I do feel like this product has made a difference, plus it is super gentle which I love.
6. Cover-up: bareMinerals. If you aren’t using this, where have you been for the past ten years? This stuff is so light, so gentle and so good at covering my blemishes that I literally never ever ever use foundation unless I am going to a wedding or something. In almost every outfit post I have ever done I am wearing Kiehl’s BB Cream and bareMinerals. I personally prefer the original version, but they have a matte one if you like more full coverage.
7. Blush: Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee. Blush is a hard product for people prone to breakouts. I am always scared to use it because I think it will clog my pores. Josie Maran makes these gorgeous pigments that come in a little pot, you brush them on your cheeks with your fingertips. It has never made me break out, and comes in the prettiest and easiest colors. BONUSES: You can use it as subtle lip color and it will probably last you until you die.
8. Mascara: Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. No clumps, no lumps; just perfect, full, pretty, all-day lashes. And I like the brush. Nothing fancy, this is just a good quality product and I dig it.
9. Perfume: Lush Lust Solid Perfume. Honestly, I am a little hesitant to share this because it is one of my biggest secrets. I love these solids by Lush. Lust happens to be my personal favorite scent, but all varieties are really nice. The big secret is that I lie to people about wearing this all the time… It is so subtle that no one notices it unless they give you a hug. I am not really a fan of heavy perfumes, but this stuff makes a lasting impression on only the people you want it to. (Not everyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in an elevator with you–I hate people who douse on perfume, what are you hiding???) So anyway, I hug all my friends and they are like “You smell soooo good, what is that?” And I am all like, “I don’t know; I am not wearing anything… Must be my shampoo.” And now they all know. That’s how much I love you guys, my readers. I promise not to tell any of your friends if you wanna steal this secret.
What are your favorite products?