Sunday, July 19, 2015

All About That Base: My "Try-Hard" Routine

I don't talk about my base routine steps too often because I think it's really...kinda boring. But I've received a few comments asking me how I do my base makeup on a day-to-day basis (ie, when I'm not trying out a new foundation), and I've been blathering about lipstick and horror movies a lot lately, so it seemed like a good time to switch gears.

I have two basic base makeup routines: my "try-hard" routine, which I do for special occasions or when I have a ton of time to spare, and my "every day" routine, which I do when I've just rolled out of bed and I have 20 minutes to get ready for work. This is the Try-Hard Routine, so it involves more steps and more work for a slightly glowier effect.

Before we get started, a few important notes:

  • While I use a good number of products in this routine, I use very small amounts of everything and work in thin layers. For the most part, I prefer that my skin looks like skin. On the rare occasions when I want heavy coverage, I usually whip out my Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer--check the Kevyn Aucoin brand tag for more on that product.
  • I'm used to being photographed with an HD camera, which can be unforgiving--see the naked face picture coming up. Remember that skin is not meant to be flawless, poreless, etc., and most of your imperfections will not be as visible to the naked eye as you think they are.
  • I am very pale. Do not let the back of my neck (which is always darker than the rest of me) and my surface redness/discoloration fool you. Trust and believe that these super-pale products are the right shade for me.
  • I am mostly dry-skinned and am generally too lazy to faff around with brushes. Hence, almost everything I use is a liquid or a cream.

First off, my naked face! My skin is especially well-behaved right now, which is kind of hilarious, considering I'm being a bit mean to it lately. (Have eaten lots of bad food, traveled a lot, am super-sad about missing my partner, etc.) Regardless, my HD camera kindly picked up on the imperfections that are here: my regular discoloration and sallowness, a blemish on my cheek, some clogs, and a few acne scars.

Also, enjoy my mega-wonky brow today. This is the problem with sleeping on your side.

On try-hard days, I reach for MAC Face & Body foundation. It's great for special occasions because it evens out my skin and looks slightly glowy without looking fake or slimy. It also has pretty impressive staying power; even when I get oil breakthrough on my nose, the coverage stays.

I use a 50/50 mix of N1 and White on most days, which creates a roughly N10 shade. I also use 1-2 layers, depending on how uneven my skin is; this was a one layer day.

Here's a full layer of MAC F&B all over my face and down the very top of my neck. Again, it evens everything out without looking fake or overdone. Definitely worth the extra work for special occasions!

Just a note: I didn't put any F&B under my eyes today, but because it's so thin, I can usually spread it over that area without creating problems for my concealer.

(For more tips on how to apply MAC Face & Body, please check out this post.)

Now concealer! If I'm really spotty and need intense coverage, I go for the aforementioned KA SSE. But I'm having a good skin day here, so I'm using NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer for discoloration and Maybelline Dream Lumi Pen in Radiant for extra undereye correction.

The picture on the left is me covering up blemishes and spots. Note the lines around my lips: the edges are where I tend to be most sallow, and I have a small red patch on my cupid's bow. So if I'm putting in the extra effort and/or I'm going to be photographed, I want those spots to blend in with my skin. This is also really important if I want to wear a bright lipstick (and I did this day). I have a sallow spot on one side of the bridge of my nose, but my glasses cover it, so I don't bother to use concealer in that area.

For my undereyes, I apply a thin layer of the NARS first, then add a few swipes of the Maybelline. It looks like I put a ton of product there, but I think that's because the light shades look stark against my dark circles until they're blended. Rest assured, it's another thin layer!

Here's the, base! Foundation and concealer, carefully blended. I could stop here, but if it's winter and I'm extra dry, or I want to look especially glowy, I go a few steps further and add powder and spray.

Here's my completed skin, plus my eyebrows done because I like to finish my eyebrows before I use setting spray. I used a small amount of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light over most of my face for a softened look, then set everything with Cinema Secrets Moisture Spray. Again, the powder and spray aren't entirely necessary, but they make everything look even softer and glowier, so if I'm already trying hard...

I normally go for pink blushes, but because I planned on wearing an orange lipstick, I chose Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow in Tansoleil instead. The highlighter is Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl. I don't even think I used HALF a pump of the stuff--it's that intense.

Last, but not least, the super-creepy macro shot of the finished face:

Feel free to click on any of these pictures for even bigger versions. Enjoy the view of my nose hairs! :D

And that's it for my "Try Hard Routine"! If this was at all helpful, let me know and I'll try to create a similar post for my "every day" routine.


  1. Your pale skin rocks! I'm pretty fair too, but definitely darker than you now, with a lot more freckles on my forehead, nose and cheeks. I don't really have any sallow patches, but lots and lots of post-acne hyperpigmentation to conceal, and lots of blue in my under eye area. I need to get back on that glowy face bandwagon, I've been using a matte finish mineral sunscreen with a matte foundation over the top, and even on my combination skin in this blasted heat and humidity, I feel too heavy and matte, you know?

    1. I know what you mean. What about spot-concealing and then using a light powder on top--would that work?

  2. foundation is always an issue because my skin is reaallly pale, but I have a ton of freckles. I can never figure out what undertone suits me best and have to be careful because too much makeup can look ashy on top of my freckles. I also have dry-ish skin, so a glowy look is definitely my preferred foundation route. I really love how traceless your base looked and yet it appeared naturally flawless and radiant! Gorgeous! Definitely going to try out some of the products you used!

    1. Can you see the skin under your freckles at all, on your neck or your chest? That's usually a good place to look. I think that if you want your freckles to stand out, a really sheer foundation plus spot concealing is the way to go. (But I love freckles, sooooooooo.)

  3. .... holy crap. you are a flawless flawless perfection.

    1. Makeup does incredible things. Weirdly enough, I think this looks more flawless than the "heavier" base I wear once in a blue moon, even though the latter covers more. I guess it's because MAC F&B is pure magic.

    2. the F&B is so glowingly natural and the way it reflects light makes the skin particularly beautiful. Gurrrrrl, you are rocking that FLAWLESS.

  4. What do you recommend to keep foundation from settling into your pores? Lately my foundation seems to be settling into my pores mainly on my nose. I have been using urban decay naked foundation...maybe I need to try Mac?

    1. It really depends on your skin type and the climate, but I think this is more common for people who have large pores. Have you tried a pore filling primer?