While it’s fun to read about the beauty habits of celebrities, I find it most helpful to learn about the beauty habits of women who have lifestyles, ages, or budgets similar to mine. In this series, I’ve asked amazing women I know to share their beauty routines. These are women from across the country, different ages, lifestyles, professions, and beauty/skincare priorities.
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Tell me a bit about your skincare and/or routine.
I used to always think, “I not a skincare person.” I inherited good skin from my mom and that was that. But in writing this post, I realized, I AM a skincare person. I have always known about the power of moisturizing, cleansing, protecting, and hydrating. But, whereas in my 20s, I had a two-step daily routine that included cleansing and moisturizing with Aquaphor (#truth), I now have seven steps!
Nighttime Skincare Routine
- Makeup remover. I switch this up all the time, but recently received some Kiehl’s product as a gift. I have been using their makeup remover and I really like it. I smooth this all over my face and then remove makeup with a hot washcloth.
- Exfoliator. This is my favorite part of my skincare routine. The condition of my skin after exfoliating is magical — smooth, soft, healthy. I use Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. I exfoliate down under my chin and down my neck.
- Toner. After exfoliating, I apply Organic Bulgarian Rose Water Toner. I just started this part of my routine last year. I bought this bottle on a whim at Whole Foods while I was grocery shopping for my family. I had read about toner as part of good skin care routine and wanted to give it a try. It is so fitting that I found toner while buying snacks for my kids! It’s been a game changer for me. My skin is noticeably smoother and softer since I started using it, and I love the smell! I use it day and night and apply under my chin and down my neck.
- Serum. I started using serum about two years ago — after I hit my 40s. I alternate two types week to week: Dermalogica Night Repair and Agent Nateur Holi oil. Again, game changer. I have tried a number of serums and I don’t love the weird tingly kind that tightens your face. With serum, I wasn’t necessarily looking to make lines disappear, but have the skin on my face feel replenished. One thing I have also found since I started using a serum is that my pores are smaller.
- Eye care. I have two eye creams I like to use: Dermalogica Intensive Eye repair cream and Shiseido eye cream. My mother used to use Shiseido products and she purchased the face cleansing brush and gentle cleanser for me when I was a teenager. It made an impact and I still love having Shiseido products in my cabinet.
- Moisturizer. I apply a thin layer of moisturizer after the toner, serum and eye cream. Lately I have been using Kiehl’s because it was gifted to me, but I also love Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance.
- I finish with Aquaphor on my lips and a glass of water before bed.
My husband is always ribbing me about my expanded skincare routine (“Are you STILL in the bathroom?!?!”). He knew me in my 20s when I was still on the Aquaphor plan. Every now and again, I have him do it with me! It’s not just about the “potions” magically transforming your skin either. Growing and managing a business can be all-consuming. I work at least 60-70 hours a week. I am also wife and mother to three busy kids. My evening skin care routine has become the perfect way for me to have some quiet time at the end of each day, be gentle with myself, and unwind before bed.
Daytime Skincare and Makeup
Much like my skin-care routine, my makeup routine has expanded as I have gotten older. Still, my approach to makeup is an easy, everyday face with a few products that give me a finished look. I always tell my clients that hair and makeup matters just as much as your wardrobe. Get a doable-plan in place. Just like your wardrobe, don’t complicate it to the point that you won’t do it.
Again, my earliest grooming/makeup influence was my mother and although she was meticulous with skincare, she didn’t wear makeup. She always had makeup products she saved from department store giveaways, but she didn’t use them.
I didn’t shape my eyebrows until I was in my late 20s if that gives you an idea of the grooming/makeup space I am coming from. But, the one thing I always did was line my eyes from the age of 12. I remember not liking how small my eyes were and wanting them to appear larger and rounder. I thought lining them ALL THE WAY AROUND would do the trick. I would steal some of my mother’s unused eyeliner, sneak it out of the house and apply it at school. I went to a Catholic elementary and middle school so I would apply it and the nuns would then promptly have me wash it off.
Much of my makeup experience and routine has been trial and error. Today, I have a pretty basic process for makeup that gets me out of the bathroom in 15 minutes. And yes, the eyeliner has stuck around!
- Rinse. In the morning, I rinse with water. No soap or exfoliant.
- Toner. I splash the rose water toner again and let it dry.
- Apply Serum. I use La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum with Sunscreen SPF 50.
- Moisturize. I use a dab of moisturizer. My skin type is oily through my “t zone” (forehead, nose, chin). I love Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance.
- Primer. I use Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer. I have had some friends say this has caused them to break out, but I have not had this issue.
- Coverup. Maybelline Dream Brightening Creamy Concealer is easy to apply and the perfect tone — a little lighter than my actual skin tone but with a little yellow/brown tint. I apply under my eyes and the corners of my nose where I get some redness.
- Powder. Because I do have oily skin on my forehead, nose and chin, I do a light dusting of facial powder with a large brush. I do my oily t-zone first and then sweep lightly over the rest of my face. I will use more expensive powders, but lately I have been going drugstore with L’oreal True Match powder.
- Eyebrows. My eyebrows are sparse and short. They don’t naturally frame my face the way I want. Since I started shaping them, I have experimented with eyebrow pencils, shadows, tinting brushes and more. I have been everything from very thin and penciled to more natural tinting (i.e. the Boy Brow). I discovered the Goof Proof Eyebrow pencil a couple of years ago and it has changed my brow game. I can do my brows in 30 seconds and they look done, but not too done. The angled shape of the pencil makes shaping them a breeze. So I draw and fill in then use the other end of the pencil, which is a handy brush, to spread out the color. I brush in an upwards motion and through to the end of the brow. I then use my finger to soften up the front of the brow.
- Eyes. I don’t use liquid liner. I am too unskilled and find it unwieldy. I use old-school pencil eyeliner and Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterline eye pencil does not smudge easily. I have hooded (extra layer of skin that droops over the crease) almond-shape eyes so eyeliner on that top lid always ends up smearing and leaving a mark on on the puffy top eye area. It’s been my quest to find one that doesn’t smear! As I mentioned before, I used to apply thick, dark eyeliner around my eyes, thinking it would create the illusion of larger, rounder eyes. I no longer try to create a different shape around my eyes using makeup. I start by dotting along my lash line starting right in the middle of my pupil. Once I have created a dotted line, I fill in a solid line right against my lash line. I draw the line slightly past the end of my actual eye into to a point. It is not a dramatic cat eye — but enough to lengthen and enhance.
- Blush. I use a large brush because I don’t want my blush to appear too streaky. I use two colors combined: Trish McEvoy’s Natural and Easy Going. I don’t do any contouring.
- Lip Liner and lipstick. I use The Estee Edit 06 Nude Scene lip liner (no longer availble, Estee Lauder recommends this alternative). I line my cupid’s bow and then the outer edge of my bottom lip. I then fill in with either a little Aquaphor to smear the liner for a “stained” lip look. Or, for a more polished look, I use a matte nude lipstick to blend with the darker red lip liner.
- Primer water. Once my face is done, I spritz Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water to “set” my face and hydrate it. Sometimes after makeup, you can look too done — dry and waxy almost. This softens my skin and the makeup looks more natural.
What is the best skincare or beauty advice you ever got and from whom?
Apply everything under the chin and down to the neck and chest. People forget the skin on their necks! Also primer. I never used primer until a few years ago. I literally didn’t even know what it was or why anyone would ever use it. Completely clueless. Now, I never put on makeup without it.
What is your must-have holy grail beauty or skincare product?
My Goof Proof eyebrow pencil. Ever since I started shaping and filling in my eyebrows, it’s the one thing I usually always do — even on makeup-free days. I feel naked without my eyebrows filled in.
What is your biggest beauty or skincare regret or embarrassment?
Again the eyebrows! I tried to shape them myself the first time and overplucked. I gave myself a very thin brow with a too-high arch. I was “surprised” for weeks.
What nugget of skincare or beauty wisdom do you wish you could give to your younger self?
I would say to my younger self, “Your eyes are beautiful! Stop smothering them with black liner!” The way I approach makeup around my eyes has evolved as I have gotten older. I have my dad’s eyes. He used to joke that we had “elephant eyes” — small and squinty. Still, my family always told me I was “lucky” to have a crease instead of a monolid. It’s still amazing to me after all these years, how pervasive and insidious Western beauty standards are. I remember in elementary school being teased for having “Chinese eyes.” If you are Asian American, your experience most definitely included kids at school pulling their eyes out in a mocking way to let you know that those they were different, strange and ugly. I desperately wanted bigger, rounder eyes. Today, I can’t tell you how affirming it has been to have Michelle Lee helm Allure and talk about truly inclusive beauty standards. My teen self would never have believed we’d have tutorials on how to do eye makeup on monolids!