Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Toolkit of My Youth

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you've probably encountered the tale of my Year Without (much) Makeup. It was my junior year of college. At the time, I had a pretty sizable collection, and I'd also ended up in a very old-fashioned dorm room. This means no air conditioning, communal bathrooms, and the ugliest carpets you've ever seen. It was also the year that I decided it would be an awesome idea to take 6 classes each semester: 5 major-level course and a new language.

Friends, this was not the time for beauty or big collections.

I got in to the habit of wearing 4 things and 4 things only, albeit on the daily: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF60 (now discontinued, though you can still purchase an SPF50ish version), Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF15, Shu Uemura Hard Formula brow pencil in Seal Brown, and whatever mascara I had handy/could afford, which usually meant Maybelline Great Lash. And somehow, I always managed to look halfways decent.

Now, I didn't use the EA stick balm or Maybelline Great Lash in this photo, because the tubes photographed above actually belong to my mother. Instead, I used Bare Minerals Lash Demolition and the original Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. But the feel is the same: slap it on and go, nobody knows you're even wearing anything. The only "strenuous" part of the process was my brows, which took about 2 minutes to draw on and brush through.

I'd actually recommend that most people give this almost-nothingness a try. If you want to stay under a $20 budget, consider using a Neutrogena sunscreen and the $2 La Femme brow pencil, plus whatever your favorite lip balm and mascara are. It might not be your favorite look, but it gave me a new perspective on my face 5 years later.

I fell back in love with makeup after that junior year of college, and I haven't turned away since. So I decided that I would allow myself to add 3 more products to this lil' toolkit...but I imagined that I was still in that 21-year-old's stressed out "I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE" mindset.

I knew that I would've gone for products that were sheer, easy, portable, and multi-tasking: MAC Strobe Cream, which is both a moisturizer and a subtle illuminator; Paula's Choice Barely There Sheer Matte Tint, which is a light-coverage foundation that looks like skin and provides extra sun protection, and a Becca Beach Tint in Dragonfruit.

I built over the already-applied sunscreens, mascara, and brow products. I squeeze a dollop of the PC tint on the back of my hand, then an even tinier drop of MAC Strobe Cream near that. I added a bit of the Strobe Cream to the foundation to make it even sheerer and slightly glowy; then I applied it to my entire face, including my undereyes and eyelids, and down my neck. I patted a little more of the mixture on to spots and redness for some more coverage. Then I began tapping what was left of the Strobe Cream on to the tops of my cheekbones and under my brows; I did this before applying blush because it seems to make everything appear more seamless/natural, and because it forces me to focus on how my skin looks versus my blush. Dragonfruit is exceptionally pigmented and lovely, so I used the tiniest dots of product on my lips and my cheeks. I put on another layer of EA8HC to keep my lips from drying out.

You would not believe the number of compliments I got from random people when I was out shopping with my mother. Somehow, these products manage to look like makeup without looking made up, if you catch my drift.

And there you have it: still no-muss-no-fuss, even 5 years and 3 more products later!

Oh, and for the record: I packed the Beach Tint along with some blotting powder and a sheer concealer in my purse for touch-ups. Twas a smart idea. I'm older, but I'm also wiser!


  1. I love this post, especially as I've been feeling nostalgic about college. I graduated five years ago this May (so we must be around the same age? 26?), and it's sobering to realize how much time that is. I didn't wear any makeup in college except concealer, that Perfumeria Gal lip balm in the Art Nouveau tin, and when I was feeling REALLY fancy, a clear CoverGirl stick gloss. I didn't even know to wear sunscreen every day, which is ridiculous considering how pale I am! I sort of regret not getting into makeup back then; it would have distracted me from my own insane (and self-imposed) workload. Then again, I went to a women's college in the middle of nowhere and statement lips weren't exactly a thing...

    1. I don't understand how I went for years without sunscreen in high school. It was actually getting an awful sunburn on my back that made me realize I needed SPF if I was going to be out and about for more than 5 minutes. Sometimes, you gotta learn the hard way!

  2. In college I went crazy with makeup! I put all of my classes late in the evening and had work at 10, so I woke up reasonably and always had hours to play with my face before heading to class. Now that at I'm work I pack like 4 things to use repeatedly lol >.> I miss college

    1. I was smart enough to schedule my classes in the late morning and early afternoon throughout undergrad, but I didn't have a choice freshman year...and every day started at 8am sharp. My lord.